In The News
Golden Oldie: How Walker's ego and empty head dismayed followers
By Dominique Paul Noth
Editor, Milwaukee Labor Press
The unions had nothing to do with it and the establishment media is conflicted because pretending to be a well-heeled right-wing dude to get a public official to spill his real feelings is a basic violation of journalistic ethics.
That said, every Wisconsin voter needs to listen to the results, now posted here.
Listen to Scott Walker’s preening when he thought he was talking to “one of us” – a diehard right-winger and rich besides. Duplicitous and arrogant are only the first words. Egotistical, delusional, amoral will also come to mind, at least they did when I spoke to folks who say they voted for Walker for governor.
To say it opened their eyes is clearly their first reaction, far stronger than the second reaction that Walker was conned into candor.
The veracity is undeniable by the governor. He clearly doesn’t know he has been duped. He falls all over himself to boast about his reputation, that his enemies now know how dangerous he is (whoops, so do his friends), and he reveals his strategy to what he thinks is one of the Koch brothers, the rich right-wingers whose organizations heavily funded his gubernatorial campaign and who just opened a lobbying office in Madison.
The contents are frightening to both right and left -- particularly shameful for the right-wing – in what it reveals about the cloud cuckooland where Walker dwells.
If any doubted that ideology can totally warp your world view, if you ever suspected that smooth talk and an affable manner can disguise extremist corrupted vision, just take a few minutes to listen.
Forget whether your own personal philosophy leans Democrat or Republican or independent, or hard right or middle left. Just listen.
On the audio, Walker admits he is seeking to break unions, and he doesn’t limit it to pubic service ones. (Listen) He compares himself to Ronald Reagan breaking the air controllers and suggests he is also proving to the enemies like the Soviet Union (which no longer exists) that he is not to be trifled with. I can hear Osama bin Laden trembling in his cave about facing the governor from Wisconsin. You may doubt that he thinks he is Reagan reincarnated, but just listen.
He openly reveals plans to lure the 14 fugitive Democrats back to the state under the pretext that he would listen to them, confirming that their mere presence would allow him to pass his bill removing so many bargaining rights from public service unions and requiring yearly elections for unions and no paycheck union dues payments.
He suggests the 14 are not morally committed to their workers’ cause, singling out Beloit’s newly elected Tim Cullen as someone he can talk with because he’s made money in the private sector. (Can’t wait until I hear how Cullen reacts to that view of him as wishy-washy in his principles because he appreciates money.)
He openly discusses the idea of forcing Democrats who miss two Senate sessions to have to beg for their paychecks in person from the senate speaker. He proudly discloses that he is already preparing lists of public service workers to lay off, something he threatened to do if the Democrats didn’t return for the vote but something that he is free to do, and clearly will, even if he gets the bill passed, curtailing public service and throwing families into the gutter.
And it is only for strategic reasons (“we talked about it”) that he rejects the idea of planting agitators in the crowds of protesters, whom he also dismisses as like those radical 1960s protesters the public will turn against.
Polls reveal the pubic has actually turned against Walker, but he is now pretending he speaks for a silent majority.. What the world is seeing on TV are their hard-working neighbors, largely white and middle class insisting on their rights, and agreeing (however painfully) to pay more of pension and health benefits to help the budget concerns (which economists also point out Walker has exaggerated)
So Walker reveals he will fly in the face of the emerging facts because he thinks he’s winning a battle the facts say he’s losing.
His hubris is clear in that phone call. He’s ignoring news analysis that his attack on bargaining rights goes far deeper than anything he campaigned on. He ignores the obvious reality that it is not outsiders or even unions driving the protests (unions are happy to keep up the pressure, but truth is spontaneous reaction among workers at first outstripped their organizational efforts).
He weirdly tries to suggest that anyone outside Wisconsin has no right to comment. (One pundit suggested Walker now return the $460,000 he raised in out of state individual campaign contributions.)
It is also clear that the National Guard is touring state prisons as they never have before, not consulting with the corrections officers who run the security and who have said all along they will not strike. Why? Walker’s attempt just to keep things ugly, like blaming outside agitators or pretending he campaigned on denying worker rights. The weekend warriors in our National Guard are more than willing to step in for a public emergency, but not for a concocted one, and several now say they are offended at the pretense of public insurgency to churn up Walker’s fading admirers.
In fact, the nonviolent protests by some 50,000 citizens have brought the admiration of the nation. But Walker doesn’t see that or have the smarts to deal with it.
It’s not just that he’s lost the battle on facts already. He’s lost the high ground he pretends to occupy. When he thought he was unburdening to David Koch, he made it clear that he does not oppose trickery or thuggery on moral or ethical grounds, or even on the Christian values of his upbringing. It would only be about strategy (Lord help the GOP when he realizes the strategic foundation has turned to mud) because he thinks the public is on his side, that the public will remain sheep believing whatever he does.
He says the voices on the street are making no headway against him, they’re all hippies, and physical action or deception against them should be opposed only because it might backfire. In other words, the audio reveals his cavalier but real feelings. Human concerns or actually listening have flown out the window, and Walker believes that if he is unflinching that alone will cow his opponents into giving up.
Now I agree that comparisons of Walker to Hitler or to Mubarek are overblown and should be avoided, but the audio does reveal why the analogies provide amusing echoes of the political posturing.
Yes, he doesn’t kill people, he’s not a full-fledged dictator and the Egyptians suffered death and torture in their rebelling, a far cry from the economic devastation about to land on state residents. But it remains true that tyrants and wannabes start off attacking trade unions and opposition voices, and try to paint critics as indecent radicals, not concerned citizens. And Walker is certainly doing that, and is only candid when he thinks he’s talking to a likeminded guy with big bucks to back him.
The historical truth in larger as well smaller contexts suggests that such stubbornness is particularly distasteful in democracy and makes opponents dig in not give up. That, incidentally, is the American tradition, and so while comparisons of Madison to Egypt sometimes seems facile, from his own lips the governor has exposed a Mubarek-Lite quality.
The audio, which many are now downloading, also exposes an intellectual incompetency behind his political ideology, a world view likely to offend real conservatives.
Walker’s inadvertent but clearly candid and preening 20 minutes on the phone came about because he said he would not talk to anyone -- but some Internet journalists believed he would if he thought there was an important enough fish on the other end of the line. They were right.
It would take a psychiatrist to pronounce in official terms whether this interview rises to diagnosable “megalomania” or whatever the scientific equivalent of “genuine nut job” should be. But since arm-chair psychologists abound in our partisan political environment, you cannot blame the public right and left from listening and drawing their own conclusions. Walker’s opponents may think it just confirms their feelings, but it is Walker’s supporters who will be the most dismayed.