So as far as I can tell, the story around Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker going from “interesting 2016 dark horse” to “steaming pile of horse manure” happened in about 72 hours, and involved tweeting. It goes something like this:
1) Walker hired GOP consultant Liz Mair as his digital outreach guru on Monday. This was generally viewed as a good idea, since Walker has all the charisma of a room temperature 2-liter bottle of Sam’s Club diet cola.
2) Mair tweeted some stuff about Iowa politics in general and while even Nate Silver agreed with her she was immediately fired. This was on Tuesday.
3) Liz Mair has a lot of friends over in right-wing blogger country. She also has a lot of enemies. They got into a big ol’ fight over whether Liz was treated unfairly or if she was a squishy amnesty RINO. This happened Wednesday.
4) And all this has led directly to today, where conservatives are now openly wondering if Walker should now even bother to continue his campaign:
Forcing Mair out was like amputating your finger to deal with a paper cut. Instead of having a problem with a few Iowans and a writer at Breitbart.com, Walker has now baffled his admirers across the right. Mair’s resignation signaled that Walker’s team either didn’t do its homework before hiring Mair, or that it was too spineless to defend her. It is hard to believe the former, since Mair consulted for Walker before during his 2012 recall.
Walker’s unwillingness to defend his own hire will give other consultants and policy experts jitters before joining the team. It totally undercuts his reputation as a tough-minded fighter who stands on principle. And it may contribute to an alternate interpretation of Walker as a ‘fraidy cat. Earlier this month, Walker caved to Iowa ethanol interests by reversing his position on the federal mandate.
The problem, in other words, wasn’t the tweets of a single staffer, but the way Iowa’s parochial concerns act like kryptonite on Walker’s convictions and reputation. He can certainly recover from this, but if Walker thinks his path to the nomination runs through Iowa, he needs to figure out how to win that state’s caucuses without turning into Tom Vilsack before he arrives in Nashua, New Hampshire.
So yeah, apparently last week Walker was somebody who may have been a contender. As of today, he’s dog food. It just reinforces the notion that whoever survives So You Wanna Be A Candidate 2016 here is going to be completely unelectable in the general.