Bloggers on the left have noted many similarities between Scott Walker and Nixon, and between Walker and Reagan. But another way to compare him is to George W. Bush. And in that comparison, a Bush quote sums up how we should deal with Walker now that he's pretending to be a Democrat.
Remember when Bush said, "Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again." Well, that's how Wisconsin citizens ought to regard the "new" Walker. Like the "new" Nixon and George H.W. Bush, Walker has now apparently retired his heavily partisan tactics in favor of a kinder, gentler approach to governing.
He said so in his recall election victory speech. And made good, if you will, by inviting legislators of both major parties to a private brats and beer bash at the governor's mansion.
But we should discard any notion Walker is now suddenly different. He's not. Consider:
In a matter of a few weeks following his inauguration in 2011, he blitzkrieged his way through a huge agenda of major policy changes, introducing highy contentious, radical bills and having GOP leadership in the legislature ram them through at warp speed. That prompted Democratic senators to walk away for a couple of weeks to give everyone a chance to breathe, and that in turn triggered the demonstrations that attracted hundreds of thousands of people to the Capitol and to protests around the state. That triggered the recall elections. Walker survived, but he's smart enough to know his future career advancement will depend on pretending to be a man for all the people.
He largely succeeded in enacting most of his agenda, thanks to GOP legislative majorities and a willingness to skirt the law -- for example getting a conservative majority on the state Supreme Court to rule that legislators, who hold the most important public meetings in Wisconsin, are not subject to the Wisconsin Open Meetings Law. But Walker used up enormous political capital, to the point that his rock-solid, unanimous support among GOP legislators began to crumble.
He failed to win on his dumbed down, mining deregulation bill or a bill adjusting how the state handles venture capital, but now he's going to try to achieve both. And so he begins a calculated round of glad-handing and talking kumbaya.
But the new Walker is the old Walker. This is all tactical, and not to be believed. When George W. Bush was president, he used the 9/11 event to ram legislation through Congress and then, when the emergency had mostly lifted, kept right on ramming. Attacked widely in the press and by the press for his inflexible approach to governing, Bush suddenly started talking about the importance of compromise.
Thing is, in modern GOP speak, compromise literally means this: All you Democrats compromise 100 percent and agree with us Republicans. That, of course, is not compromise, it's capitulation.
The jury is out, but here's our fearless prediction: Walker is going to try the same gambit. He'll nicely ask that Democrats agree to "compromise," but the compromises will turn out to be their willingness to sign on to GOP legislation without fundamental adjustments. When some or most Democrats decline, Walker will ram the bills through anyway (assuming the fall elections give Senate majority control back to his party). Then he will decry the Democratic Party's unwillingness to "work with me." Quite a neat little trick box.
In short, Democrats need early and often to point out that true compromise means seeking common ground, not moving en masse to ground occupied by Republicans. If they don't, they'll be victims once again in the next legislature.
Fooled us once, shame on you, Scott Walker. We can't get fooled again.
Hat tip to Rock Net Roots for the fabulous photo manip.