Winners Win When the Winning Counts

There were other good pieces on Scott Walker written around the same time as the Dickerson piece I responded to yesterday.

Almost like a groundswell of analyst support for Walker.

I’ve got to be honest with you: it’s starting to have an effect on me. We’ve gone from meh, to Walker being my number two guy.

Still a distant second, but moving up.

Matt Lewis croppedRight after I read Dickerson’s analysis I read Matt Lewis’s, Scott Walker and the art of winning.

Matt starts strong:

General Patton famously declared that “Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser.” He was right. And as we look to the 2016 presidential race, I think Taegan Goddard put his finger on something very true with this tweet:

In American politics, winning often isn’t enough. You have to win on your own terms, too.

What’s there to disagree with?


Conservatives have very obviously had enough of politicians who cave. That hold-the-line, never-give-in attitude has burned at the heart of the Tea Party for years. Less noticed, but equally important, is the fact that we have plenty of conservative lawmakers whose reputations are built on their adherence to principle, their total commitment to never cave — and who inevitably lose. They may make excuses and point fingers to try and claim that losing is winning — but they are still losers.

I’ve gone round and round with more than a few fellow conservatives about this—including Matt. So far, nobody’s been able to get anyone else to budge.

My perspective is that losing battles that nevertheless serve as platforms for future success isn’t losing, and the guys who fight those battles aren’t losers.

The losers are the wimps. The guys who keep folding. Who think winning is keeping their seats and their big offices, but somehow never get around to keeping their promises.

Matt continues:

We have squishes who win and stalwarts who lose. What we really crave is a conservative winner who doesn’t cave. And Scott Walker is very arguably that guy.

Putting aside—for a moment—that we also have squishes who lose (remember Eric Cantor? Romney?), Matt goes on to build quite a convincing case for Walker.

He won in 2010. He picked a fight with Big Labor and won. He survived a recall. And he won again in 2014 — by almost the same margin as he did in 2010. That’s three wins in four years for a man who governed as a conservative reformer in a state that the Republican presidential nominee hasn’t carried since 1984. As Taegan said, Walker is a winner who doesn’t cave.

seth mandelThen I was blown away by Seth Mandel’s piece in Commentary, Scott Walker Rejects Your Premise.

The conventional wisdom after Republicans lost two presidential elections to Barack Obama was that the GOP needed to concede the premise of certain Democratic talking points. Suddenly immigration reform became urgent enough for a prospective GOP candidate to lead the effort in the Senate. And even more suddenly, talk of inequality has emerged in conservative circles. But what if the conventional wisdom is wrong? What if, instead, Scott Walker is right?

The Wisconsin governor is enjoying a bit of a boomlet right now, as Peter Beinart notes in a sharp piece on Walker’s unapologetic conservatism. And he’s earned it. He won three statewide elections in four years, and did so with national media attention and the concerted lunatic tactics of public unions (death threats, violence, compulsive Hitler comparisons) aimed at him and his supporters. He won comfortably and with a smile on his face. Walker never lost his composure and never stooped to the level of his fanatical liberal opponents.

There’s more:

The lesson, as I interpret it, is that the press and the Democrats speak the same language. That’s not surprising; the mainstream press, especially during national elections, functions as a messaging office for the Democrats. Because of this, they just assume that in order to be a serious presidential candidate you have to be like them, like the Democrats.

Walker doesn’t agree. And he’s been extraordinarily successful of late by not agreeing.

Part of the media’s terrible coverage of national politics is the reliance on the personal: it matters to them who is saying it more than what is said. Romney got tagged as uncaring because he’s rich. But the classic conservative policies don’t reek of plutocracy when coming from the new crop of Republican stars, many of whom came from modest beginnings or are the children of immigrants, or both. Walker doesn’t even have a college degree, which itself is incomprehensible to modern Democrats, who are elitist and credentialist and genuinely don’t know what life is like in much of the country.

And neither does the media. Which is how someone like Walker could be so successful and still blindside the national press, who would struggle to find Wisconsin on a map. And it’s why Walker is a threat to other high-profile Republicans who have accepted the Democratic/media framing of the issues in order to make a national pitch. Only one of them can be right.

Mr. Mandel is speaking my language.

Okay, John got me open to the idea of Walker being an acceptable candidate, despite being a governor.

Matt softened me up to Walker as winner.

Seth made me a fan.

Enough to put him ahead of Cruz in my heart?

Not yet.

But there’s still time.


Now that they’ve made me be more open to Walker (a governor!), when are my friends going to return the favor, and re-consider how they’re viewing Cruz and his pals?

I believe Cruz has been working a high-risk/high-reward plan all along that’s still on track to actually produce permanent results.

Hopefully I can write about that later.

Meanwhile, two reading assignments:

Winners win when the winning counts.


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