Ronald Reagan, Warmed Over

Over this past week, Hank Reichman has been posting materials related to the attack on tenure in Wisconsin.

I think that it might be helpful to many of us who live outside of Wisconsin to have a more precise perspective on Scott Walker and what has been driving his radical political agenda in Wisconsin—especially since he is commonly acknowledged to be one of the frontrunners for the Republican presidential nomination.

To that end, I’d like to recommend a substantial and insightful profile of Walker just published by the Washington Spectator, a publication of the Public Concern Foundation. The article by Jud Lounsbury is titled “Scott Walker’s Long Crusade.”

Here are the introductory paragraphs:

“When Scott Walker met 91-year-old Nancy Reagan in 2012, he told her he had a personal connection with her late husband: Walker’s recall election had fallen on the anniversary of President Reagan’s death.

“Back home in Wisconsin, Walker would try to impress intimate gatherings of Republicans by telling them Nancy Reagan had arranged for Walker to be the first to touch the Reagan inauguration Bible since Reagan’s death. Writing in The Progressive, I debunked the story: it turned out Nancy Reagan never made any special arrangement for Walker, and the Bible in fact has been touched by a number of people since Reagan’s death.

“While it is not uncommon for Republicans to have a cult-like infatuation with Reagan, Walker has been obsessed with him since starting the Jesus USA Club in elementary school, when his Baptist preacher father started saying his son had “the gift” for being a politician.

“While all politicians are ambitious, you’ll rarely find someone who shifts his focus to the next rung on the political ladder as quickly as Governor Scott Walker.

“Twelve hours after being declared the winner in the 2010 Wisconsin governor’s race, Walker sat down with his team to figure out how to start his first term with a big bang that would put his name on the tips of the tongues of the politicians and donors who define today’s Republican Party. Four months later, on the evening before Walker, in his own words, “dropped the bomb” on teachers, snow-plow drivers and other public-sector workers, he met with his cabinet and, holding up a photo of Reagan, told them this was his Ronald Reagan moment.

“Just as Reagan had started his first term in office with a well-publicized fight with organized labor, so would he.

“While Reagan used a labor dispute as an opportunity to bust a union, he didn’t manufacture the conflict with the striking air traffic controllers. Walker, on the other hand, poured hot grease on a sleeping cat, announcing a ‘budget repair bill’ that would cut employment benefits and strip collective bargaining rights from 175,000 public-sector workers.

“Now he’s among the frontrunners in the Republican presidential race, welcomed as a breath of fresh air. But if you listen to his catch-phrases, you find they’re almost always Reagan knock-offs.

“’Democrats measure success by how many are dependent on the government, we should measure success based on the exact opposite’ is an obvious rewording of the Reagan line, ‘We should measure welfare’s success by how many leave it, not by how many are added.’ Or Walker’s favorite: ‘There’s a reason why we celebrate the Fourth of July and not April 15.’ Which is pretty darn close to Reagan’s ‘Republicans believe every day is the Fourth of July, but the Democrats believe every day is April 15.’”

Lounsbury’s complete article is available at:


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