If this is the best that the Chicago Tribune staff can come up with to preemptively attack Scott Walker’s potential presidential bid, he may be in better shape than I thought. Aaron Blake burns up a bit of ink to ponder whether the Walker campaign is doomed because, gosh darn it, the guy is just too Midwestern. (This is not an exaggeration. The actual title of the article is, “Is Scott Walker too Midwestern to be president?”)
Bloomberg declared this week: “If Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker runs for president, he should take a good hard look at the styling of another Midwestern governor, Tim Pawlenty, and what doomed that candidacy in 2012.” …
Likening two candidates because of geography, of course, isn’t completely fair. But I subscribe to the idea that there is such a thing as being too Midwestern to be president. Candidates in this 24/7 media age quite simply need to be compelling. Call it the “charisma threshold.”
As a fellow Minnesotan, when I saw Pawlenty telling corny jokes and looking exceedingly Midwestern milquetoast in the 2012 campaign, I wondered how he would excite anybody enough to assert himself as a front-runner. A president needs to be seen as forceful and decisive; as Garrison Keillor will point out, being upper-Midwestern is often antithetical to that.
This article makes two separate efforts to deflate the hopes of any potential Walker supporters. The first is a series of comparisons between Walker and Tim Pawlenty, who washed out of the 2012 race in record time. They may be from the same neck of the woods and share something of the same regional twang, but Walker only needs one quality to immediately and completely distinguish himself from T-Paw: he just needs to not be a quitter.
I maintain to this day that Pawlenty was the biggest disappointment of the race. He sat wringing his hands as a bunch of people at a state fair dropped slips of paper in pickle jars for a contest which correctly picks presidents about as often as three legged horses win the Preakness. And when he failed to beat Michele Bachmann, he packed his bags and quit. It was good that the voters found that out early, because you don’t want a quitter for your candidate, or for president. But if he had stuck around – even with almost no money in his campaign fund – he would have come out looking good. One Tea Party favorite after another flamed out and the only reason that Santorum was the last man standing was because he was the only “My Name Isn’t Mitt” candidate who refused to quit. Pawlenty had more juice than Santorum on the national scene and far fewer negatives. Had he still been standing strong after the rest were hounded out, he could have been the Not Romney candidate at the finish line. If Walker isn’t a quitter, he won’t have that problem.
The author’s other point is that these white, Midwestern guys are “too boring” and don’t bring the heat and excitement of a Ted Cruz. That may be true, but the more heat you bring, the more things around you tend to catch fire. America can handle a little boring if the underlying message and substance are strong. And just to clarify, are you saying that Romney was Mr. Excitement? The guy won the nomination.
The media is free to call Scott Walker “too boring” all they like. Somehow I don’t think that will bother him.