Yesterday, I noted that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, after a long and troubled period in which he struggled to manage the day-to-day trials of being a presidential candidate (including such challenges as "taking a position on issues" and "answering questions from reporters"), had finally hit on a novel way of dealing with the stresses of the campaign trail. Instead of discussing what he would do as president in the face of various Oval Office crises, Walker declared all such inquiries to be unfair "hypothetical" questions, which he was not required to answer.
Walker basically stumbled upon this new technique after ABC News asked the governor if he thought the United States "should open its doors" to take in more refugees. "I'm not president today and I can't be president today," said Walker, before forswearing hypothetical questions entirely.
As New York Magazine's always-sharp Jaime Fuller put it, the Republican candidate had found himself a "secret cheat code that allows him to avoid all campaign questions." That really was something of an achievement for Walker, whose typical pattern has been to stake out a position on one day, only to reverse himself later.
With that in mind, it will probably come as no surprise to learn that Walker is now reversing his previously stated position on not taking positions. As Wisconsin Public Radio reports:
Gov. Scott Walker said Wednesday that the United States should not take in Syrian refugees. Instead, he said America should focus on taking out the so-called Islamic State, also known as ISIS, to solve the humanitarian crisis in that country.
Walker was criticized Tuesday for dodging a question on whether the U.S. should admit more Syrians fleeing extremist violence and a bloody civil war. Wednesday, while speaking with reporters at the Governor's Small Business Summit in Eau Claire, he clarified his answer: "No, we shouldn't be taking on any more Syrian refugees right now."
Even if we leave aside the perhaps not-very-well-thought-out premise that increasing military strikes in Syria will somehow stanch the flow of terrified refugees out of the country (unless Walker means to specifically target the refugees, a possibility I probably shouldn't discount), some big questions remain: Why not just provide this answer the first time? What was with all that tortured reasoning over the nature of hypotheticals when the actual answer to that hypothetical was a quick-and-dirty "No"? Is there some broken connection between his mouth and the urgings of his donors, or does Walker just need a few hours to think about his answers to questions?
It's genuinely weird that Walker can't seem to get a grip on this, but it's been a constant and noticeable problem. As one anonymous Iowa Republican told Politico last week, "He can't seem to find his way on any given issue with a handheld GPS. ... For the last two months [he] hasn't made a single policy pronouncement that he or his staff hasn't had to clarify or clear up within two hours."
I have an open question to any of the people who lost an election to this guy: How did you lose an election to this guy?