John Kass: Walker’s parting shot
Donald Trump wanted to kick him off the debate stage. Fox News ignored him. CNN limited his time, then called him a loser.
Having been resoundingly Trumped, Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, wants a “positive conservative” to emerge in the Republican race for president.
But just who is this positive conservative Walker dreams of?
We won’t learn this immediately, with Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. dominating the news cycle and the Democrats hoping to turn the Pope of Rome into their precinct captain.
So where is Walker’s positive conservative?
Could it be Sen. Rand Paul, right on the Constitution, appealing to young voters but woefully lacking in good hair and TV game-show host charisma?
Perhaps the angry Sen. Ted Cruz, whose formidable brain is overshadowed by a wide-eyed zeal that frightens children and political independents? Hmm. Could it be Jeb, with all that Wall Street establishment money behind him? No way.
Well, it clearly isn’t Donald Trump, the snarling unconservative. Even the Trumpians should be able to imagine election night 2016 if he is the nominee:
Trump alone in a cavernous New York penthouse, in bright blue silk pajamas and fuzzy red slippers, like some cartoon billionaire in an old madcap Hollywood Depression-era comedy. He’s got a martini in one hand, a cellphone in the other. And near him is the terrified butler, aptly played by the late Edward Everett Horton, a fine character actor who made a living portraying tremblers and snivelers.
“Losers! You’re all a bunch of losers!!” Trump shouts, his rage echoing off the walls, Horton shaking like a reed. “Fire me? Fire you!!!!”
And in her acceptance speech, Hillary Clinton smiles sweetly, talking of mandate, her voice rising as she promises to teach us all a thing or two as Bill does that overbite thing of his, nodding, sympathetic, feeling our pain to come.
So Walker pulled the plug on his own campaign and got out, reminding Republicans what will happen with so many candidates in the race.
“I’m being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race so that a positive conservative messenger can rise to the top of the field,” Walker said.
“I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to consider doing the same. So that the voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive conservative alternative to the current frontrunner,” Walker said.
What dropped Walker from top-tier candidate to Rick Perryland? His mistakes. In England to demonstrate his international trade chops, Walker declined to answer questions on foreign policy.
“I just think for me, commenting on foreign policy, or in this case economic policy, in a country where you’re a visitor is not the politest,” he told reporters.
Whether it was staff timidity or Walker’s lack of seasoning, he’s toast. Yes he’s credited with rescuing Wisconsin from the kind of failed-state fiscal quicksand that has overwhelmed neighboring Illinois. But he wasn’t ready, and he ran up against Trumpian fire that sucked up all the media oxygen so his campaign shriveled.
Now he’s a cautionary tale, yesterday’s news.
“Ronald Reagan was good for America because he was an optimist,” Walker said. “Sadly, the debate taking place in the Republican Party today is not focused on that optimistic view of America. Instead, it has drifted into personal attacks.”
Of course that means Trump.
So what of the future, assuming that crazy Uncle Joe Biden, the vice president who is treated with deference on the TV talk shows as if he were some kind of Joe of Assisi, doesn’t get in on the Democratic side? Who is that positive conservative counterpoint to Madame What Difference At This Point Does It Make?
It can’t be Dr. Ben “No Sharia” Carson, can it?
Carson blundered the other day saying he wouldn’t support a Muslim for president. Now he’s identified as a bigot. If Carson were a practiced candidate, he’d have noted there is no religious prohibition in the Constitution.
But he’s not practiced. Liberals are outraged, worried he’s part of some GOP plot to bring up that old, discredited, President Obama as a Muslim business. Unfortunately, liberals screeching about Carson forget to mention Hillary’s 2008 campaign.
If only Carson were as smooth as Hillary was then.
60 Minutes: “You said you’d take Senator Obama at his word that he’s not a Muslim. You don’t believe that he’s a Muslim? Or implying, right?”
Hillary Clinton: “No. Why would I? No, there’s nothing to base that on as far as I know.”
Oh, Hillary. As far as I know? The as-far-as I know part was deftly done.
What of Republican Carly Fiorina?
Fiorina is the consummate corporatist, an insider who has been cast as some kind of “outsider.” Yes, she sang a nice song to her lazy dog on the Jimmy Fallon show. But is she a conservative? Perhaps only in Jeb world. And Jeb is fading, because the GOP base doesn’t want another Bush in the White House.
Could Marco Rubio, the establishment-backed Jeb failsafe candidate and foreign policy confrontationalist, be the one? He’s bright and young. And with Bush detested by the GOP base, I can’t help but thinking of the establishment barons as pallbearers in “Being There.”
At the end of the film starring Peter Sellers as Chauncey the gardener, there is a funeral. The American barons of commerce and industry worry their boring presidential candidate will lose. One baron, a fellow named Murray, whispers:
“Exactly. That is why I agree with Ben’s final wishes, and I firmly believe, gentlemen, if we want to retain the presidency, that our one and only choice is Marco Rubio!”