In Scott Walker's new book, "Unintimidated," recounting his largely self-imposed and on-going travails as Wisconsin governor, we learn how some conservative Republican Party lawmakers were aghast at his initial plan to end collective bargaining for public employees statewide, when briefed on it in private.
Walker may claim to be unintimidated, but unsubtle seems more like it. He shares this anecdote in the book apparently imagining it will make him look forceful, astute and (one of his favorite political words) bold, and thus move him towards serious contention as a Republican presidential candidate. But what it really shows is just how reckless and hyper-partisan he is, and how devastating his tactics.
From an early peek at the book reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, it's clear that Walker's previously reported line that he fully intended to "drop the bomb" on public employees was recognized, although with alarm, by his own party hierarchy:
... Walker describes an early meeting with top GOP lawmakers about his plan to eliminate collective bargaining for most public workers. The idea was met with stunned silence, he writes.
Senate President Mike Ellis (R-Neenah) suggested Walker "was trying to curry favor with the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal" and said the plan couldn't be done.
Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester) — then co-chairman of the Legislature's budget committee and now the Assembly speaker — told the other lawmakers that Walker's plan was a "nuclear option" and suggested they discuss a "nuclear lite" plan instead.
The legislators used "nuclear lite" as the title of a memo they put together on a counterproposal, Walker writes, and Walker and legislative leaders agreed on a plan that came just short of repealing all public-sector collective bargaining... .
So there you have it: Even conservative Republicans in Wisconsin thought Scott Walker's signature political move was reckless and amounted to political overkill -- a "nuclear" strike on workers. So they took a few little parts out of it and all but unanimously voted for "nuclear lite" -- an anti-union bill that was still awful and wreaked great economic damage upon the state, but which benefited their party politically by greatly weakening a main source of political opposition. And, incidentally, by further cutting state economic recovery and soon leaving Wisconsin near the bottom among all 50 states.
Geez, they done and blowed things up real good, huh? Yeah, heh-heh, real good!
That figurative glow still surrounding the State Capitol? It's the political fall-out from Walker's utterly cynical, reckless "nuclear" attack on a venerable and useful state institution that he cavalierly and unfairly blamed for the state's fiscal ills. This, clearly, is the Walker modus operandi: If it ain't broke, break it. But first claim it is broke.
What more and more voters have since begun to perceive isn't the rhetoric but the Walker-created wasteland of lousy, inefficient government, corruption, economic downturn and appallingly craven, often obtuse, sound-bite policies.
As in his earlier reign over Milwaukee County government, Walker's instincts once again have led him to deliberately eschew cooperation (remember his "divide and conquer" line?). And throughout it all, he and his pals scoop up the spoils. This time, though, those spoils are so hugely radioactive they are likely to poison Walker's political future. He isn't a half-term governor; he's more like a half-life politician.
He "dropped the bomb" all right, but he's far from being Da Bomb. Politically speaking, nuclear winter has descended over Wisconsin, and Walker's the guy who pushed the button and blew everything up. President Walker? What could possibly go wrong?