The OZY Hunger Games: Scott Walker Drops Out ... Again

The OZY Hunger Games: Scott Walker Drops Out ... Again

By Sean Braswell


Because a mind is a terrible thing to waste super PAC money on.

By Sean Braswell

Remember how The Hunger Games would honor its fallen tributes? In this occasional series, OZY predicts which presidential candidates will be the next to fall — whether they know it or not.

It wasn’t supposed to go down this way, was it, Gov. Walker? Or perhaps it was. “This is God’s plan for me,” you emailed supporters when you announced your candidacy just two months ago. “And I am humbled to be a candidate for President of the United States.” Apparently, it’s the Almighty’s turn to be humbled … by your lackluster campaign. How else do you explain your cratering standing, from front-runner to a rounding error in mere weeks: your tepid debate performances, or your hasty exit from the race yesterday? (Also part of the divine plan: lip sweat and CNN asking you all of three questions in a three-hour debate).

The Lord works in mysterious ways; so do Iowa voters and big donors like the Koch brothers — and a presidential candidate must learn to heed the will of them all. “I believe that I am being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race so that a positive conservative message can rise to the top of the field,” you stated yesterday while “suspending” your campaign. (Funny how they never seem to get unsuspended, isn’t it?) Whether it was God, the voters or the Kochs doing the calling, you didn’t say. Neither did what’s left of your campaign when we sought comment. Maybe it was just a question of gravity: With an estimated 90 to 100 paid staffers generating no discernible returns, your campaign had the burn rate of an early dot-com startup — one that had to go bust at some point.

Win, lose or suspend, you’ve learned as the son of a minister to go with the flow, and with your Big Campaign Adviser in the Sky. And you had quite a run together: Since 1993, you’d won 11 straight races in Wisconsin for state legislature, county executive and governor, and even survived a midyear recall election in 2012. And from busting your state’s public employee unions to taking a $250 million bite out of higher education, you racked up conservative achievements that most of your rivals could only dream about — and in a blue state, to boot.

What even mildly ambitious politician drops out of college just 10 courses shy of graduating?

So there were good reasons to like your chances in 2016. Somewhere along the way, however, the Scott-Walker-for-President plan — if indeed the product of providence — started to rank up there with the duck-billed platypus as one of the Almighty’s more head-scratching creations. Sure, you were an Eagle Scout and an Alex Keaton Republican who wore suits to his college classes at Marquette and kept a photo of yourself with Ronald Reagan on your dorm room desk; that’s red meat for GOP primary voters. But what even mildly ambitious politician quits college just 10 courses shy of graduation? No college dropout since Harry S. Truman has sat in the Oval Office, and Truman had already been president for more than three years when he was re-elected. (By the way, bragging about flipping burgers at McDonald’s to help pay for college is much more impressive if you actually earn a degree.)

But you were always more interested in being a player in government than a student of it; more focused on nailing down 47 endorsements for your ill-fated student body president campaign than in the political science classes you “seemed utterly bored” in, according to one of your professors. Such incuriosity comes at a price, even if paid decades later. It’s not surprising that you struggled in the debates — one reviewer labeled your performance “aggressively boring” — and in articulating your views on a range of issues, from immigration to gay marriage to the Confederate Battle Flag. 

Perhaps there is still more to God’s plan for you, Governor, maybe even — Lord willing — a spot on the ticket. Then there’s always 2020. It’s a few years away, but that would give you time to brush up on foreign policy, take some extension courses and perhaps get that degree. It’s never too late to get an education, and it’s the best insurance against getting schooled. A moment of prayer for the fallen, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin.