Reasonably progressive pundit and all-around bright guy Bill Scher recently gloated that all his liberal friends had predicted that Scott Walker was going to be the nominee. All the smart money was on Scott Walker among the liberal intelligentsia, and I am afraid to admit that I was one of these liberal types swearing up and down the internet that Scott Walker was going to be the nominee. “Watch out for Walker,” I warned my liberal friends. “He’s dangerous. He’s got all that Koch money. He’s got a union-busting record that Corporate America loves, and Corporate America always gets what it wants.” Plus, he seemed reasonable telegenic, congenial, a veritable pretty boy that could amiably mask all the frightening anti-union, anti-education, pro-privatization policies that make Republicans tick.
So I took a nap this afternoon. I went to bed at 2:30 Central Time. By the time I awoke at 5:30 Central time, Scott Walker was gone from the presidential race.
Now, this isn’t a surprise in the small picture. In the past few days, he said that he was concentrating all his eggs in the basket of Iowa and was giving up on campaigning anywhere else. His poll numbers rounded down to 0%. I made up a joke— “It goes to show you can’t divide by Scott Walker.” (Rimshot. Math nerd joke.) But it is a surprise in the big picture— how poorly his campaign has done, and how much he has faltered.
Of course, anybody who saw the sideshow that we generously refer to in the media as “debates” saw that Walker was not ready for prime time. Instead of the serious union-busting crusader governor of an important midwestern state, we were met with a simpering schoolboy with all the gravitas of a soap bubble. Now the bubble has burst, with Walker the first serious casualty of the 2016 presidential election. (Rick Perry is its first non-serious casualty.)
So the question becomes now, not where does Scott Walker’s 0% of the vote go— who cares?— but rather, what horse do we expect the Koch brothers to back now? Jeb? Maybe, but Bush’s own lackluster performances in the debates might make the billionaire brothers reluctant to throw money down a rathole— once bitten, twice shy. Jeb has not shown that he has the guts to stand up to, or in any way neutralize, Trump. How can he be expected to take on savvy, policy-knowledgeable politicians like Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, if he can’t debate someone who has all the policy command of a fourth grader? Perhaps Marco Rubio or Carly Fiorina, but the billionaire brothers may be reluctant to support candidates who may be received with some hostility by an electorate that does not like Latino-sounding names or women. (They’re certainly not going to support an African-American who has never held public office, so forget it, Dr. Carson.) John Kasich? Kasich has done reasonably well getting himself onto the first tier of candidates by being the Only Sane Man. But being the only sane man, Kasich has not been a Grover Norquist strangle-government-in-the-bathtub purist, so he’s short on the libertarian bona fides that you like to see if you’re a Koch brother.
Regarding Fiorina, sure, in the moment, she is polling well. Watch the whisper campaign start. “If we want to beat Hillary Clinton, we need a man.” A lot of Republicans think that women are inferior— or, barring that, a lot of Republicans think a lot of other Republicans think women are inferior. In the end, strategically, they are not going to want to give up what they think will be an advantage in having a candidate that has a penis. This will allow them to run ads that say things like, “It’s 3 a.m. and Bibi Netanyahu is on the phone demanding we need to nuke Iran right away. Which candidate has the balls to do it?”
The rest of the pack might as well be summarized by the first version of the Gilligan’s Island theme— “And the rest,” with no mention of who “the rest” really are. The rest have shown themselves to be pandering, nittering and nattering little nabobs of nothingness. All lightweights, every last one of them, and that goes for you, too, Ted Cruz, who is, alas, my Senator. By all means, Ted, shut down the entire government over Planned Parenthood (whose services, Republicans have failed to notice, are actually popular) and see how far that gets your faltering joke of a campaign. Soon you’ll be in the negative numbers and you’ll be owing us votes.
So if I’m a Koch brother, my Golden Boy is out of the race, and I’m not seeing another Golden Boy on the horizon. Maybe, just maybe, it will be the case that the Koch Brothers will not be able to buy this election at all.
Shall we have a pity party for the poor brothers Koch?