You might recall the name Mark Salter for the role he played as a speechwriter for Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) when he ran for president in 2008. In the years that followed his involvement on that failed presidential bid, Salter eventually evolved into a commentator and political analyst.
Following McCain’s failed campaign, Salter spent much of his time attempting to rehabilitate the image of his friend and former employer. In 2011, Salter wrote a meandering, discursive essay on how George W. Bush had failed to meet the expectations of posterity when he chose Dick Cheney as his running mate.
Why re-litigate history 11 years after the fact? “He criticizes my former employer, Sen. John McCain, for ‘losing his temper’ and abruptly ending a meeting with Cheney about his legislation concerning the treatment of detainees,” we discovered in paragraph nine. “ I can say with confidence that McCain neither lost his temper nor abruptly left the meeting.”
And while Salter may be perfectly qualified to opine on the wisdom associated with selecting Republican presidential running mates, he is perhaps less well-equipped to comment on what a winning coalition of voters looks like. That did not stop him from criticizing tea party Republicans in 2013.
“You’re a minority. You’re a minority in Congress and you’re a minority in the country,” he lectured the tea party wing ahead of the ill-fated government shutdown of 2013. “So go ahead and follow Sarah Palin. Let’s put the Senate on Cruz control. Let’s shame those squishes to the firing line. Filibuster the bill. Let Harry Reid pull it off the Senate floor. Shut down the government. I think you’ll find the Democrats you expected to yield to the persuasive power of your kamikaze tactics are only too happy to test your resolve.”
In the interim between Salter’s effort to recast McCain as noble statesman and lambasting the tea party, the former speechwriter became a conspicuously dedicated booster for former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels. In a gripping lament over Daniels’ decision to pass on a presidential bid in 2012, Salter attacked The Washington Post’s conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin and accused her of serving as a one of the most bombastic and irresponsible voices in American politics.
You get the picture.
Given his inclination to cast paternalistic aspersions on even the most modestly conservative elements within the GOP, it might not be surprising to learn that Salter has trained all of his copious powers of condescension on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Why? The Badger State’s chief executive has the dubious honor of being beloved by all those Republicans Salter despises.
Via Business Insider, Salter recently took to his Facebook page to offer some of his unsolicited thoughts on Wisconsin’s governor. “I want to like him but Scott Walker is kind of a dumb ass,” Salter wrote.
He posted this observation in response to a comment Walker made at CPAC in which he suggested that his ability to serve as a competent commander-in-chief was forged amid his resistance to Wisconsin’s pro-union protesters. “If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world,” Walker said. As a claim to bona fides on the issue of national security, this is rather weak sauce. As an example of political rhetoric, it’s insulting and offensive to equate American progressives with the unspeakable brutes who make up ISIS. But does this comment lead us to draw conclusions about Walker’s intellectual faculties? Not even slightly. It makes you wonder what Salter was thinking before he issued this unsophisticated schoolyard taunt.
If anything speaks to Walker’s intellect, it is his ability to outwit his adversaries on multiple occasions and to win three convincing statewide victories in a blue state. In fact, a measure of Walker’s intelligence can be found in his ability to dramatically advance a conservative agenda in a state that hasn’t voted for a Republican at the presidential level for over 30 years. None of Salter’s Republican heroes have enjoyed the same level of success in moving the ball forward for Republicanism. One questionable rhetorical slip up does not detract from the governor’s bountiful record of achievements.
In fact, if Salter is truly opposed to Walker’s candidacy, you might think that he would refrain from making comments that only lead his increasingly broad coalition of conservative supporters to grow more protective of the Wisconsin governor. If Salter truly hoped that Walker’s support would eventually dissolve, he would have been best served at this stage by keeping his thoughts on the governor to himself. But that obvious conclusion apparently escaped Mark Salter. I wonder what you might call someone who lacks that kind of basic foresight?