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Not outraged over Scott Walker and Liz Mair

Not outraged over Scott Walker and Liz Mair

I’m more interested in Walker’s accomplishments and policies than in staffing issues.

I don’t know Liz Mair. I had heard her name before, and apparently she is friends with a lot of conservative bloggers who speak highly of her.

Mair was hired by Scott Walker’s nascent presidential PAC to handle communications.

Then it came out that Mair trashed the Iowa caucuses and arguably some Iowa Republicans on Twitter.

Then some people in the Iowa Republican Party started to make a stink about that, and it was written up in The Des Moines Register, and all of the sudden, Mair was a campaign issue.

At the same time, Mair came under attack because of her more liberal policy preferences, particularly on immigration. Matt Boyle at took it one step further, and questioned Mair’s dual citizenship, a true WTF line of inquiry.

As someone handling communications for a campaign, it’s never good when you are the campaign issue because of what you have communicated, or for your own personal policy preferences.

Mair resigned, it being unclear at this writing if she was effectively fired or if she recognized that her primary role had been compromised by her own actions and took the step herself:

Veteran Republican strategist Liz Mair told The Associated Press that she was leaving Walker’s team just a day after she had been tapped to lead his online communication efforts, citing the distraction created by a series of recent Twitter posts about Iowa’s presidential caucuses.

“The tone of some of my tweets concerning Iowa was at odds with that which Gov. Walker has always encouraged in political discourse,” Mair said in a statement announcing her immediate resignation. “I wish Gov. Walker and his team all the best.”

It’s not that big a deal in the grand scheme of a campaign: Staffer falls on sword placed there by staffer’s own conduct.

I expect that Mair feels bitter about it, and maybe I would too if I knew her personally.

But I don’t know many people involved in Republican politics, which I think is an advantage in evaluating this controversy.  I just don’t think it’s that big a deal when a campaign makes a bad hire or a good hire gone bad.  Move on, don’t let the issue consume all the oxygen.

Yet now we have outrage that this incident should be the death of Walker’s campaign despite everything he has accomplished for the conservative movement and the excitement he has brought to the electorate.

Betsy Woodruff at Slate notes that several leading conservative commentators, including Erick Erickson and Jonah Goldberg, came to Mair’s defense and criticized her ostensible firing.

Michael Brendan Dougherty at The Week has a hyperbolic post titled Scott Walker, the gutless wonder of the 2016 presidential race:

Sometimes the most inside-baseball political stories tell you something essential about a presidential candidate. That’s what happened this week to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who apparently wants to win the Iowa caucuses so badly that he’s willing to torch his staff and his reputation to do it.

Sorry, not buying in on that meme.

Maybe it was a mistake for Walker’s PAC to part ways with Mair if that’s how it went down.

But it’s way too much inside baseball, to use Dougherty’s term, to claim that this is a blow to Walker’s reputation or larger campaign.

Unless some people want that to be the outcome.

Walker has a long way to go before he establishes himself as worthy of the nomination. There will be many more real controversies and contrived fauxtroversies along they way, it’s the way things go.

In the meantime, Walker defeated everything the Democrats were able to throw at him in three elections in four years, has stared down the power of Democratic prosecutors in two John Doe investigations, eviscerated powerful public sector unions, and just signed right-to-work legislation.

I’m more interested in those accomplishments and Walker’s policies than in staffing issues.

Update: The anti-Walker messaging is eerily consistent across the board on the Mair deal, trying to push a meme that it’s a sign Walker will roll over to D.C. special interests. This from Tim Carney at The Washington Examiner:

The pattern is this: Scott Walker will stand up and fight the special interests, if they’re already his sworn political enemies. But when he gets pushed around by a political power broker, or a well-heeled lobby group that’s “on our side,” Walker rolls over.

Many conservatives first sensed this pattern in January when Walker, a former staunch opponent of ethanol mandates, travelled to the Iowa Ag Forum and said he wanted to keep the ethanol mandate until the alcohol-based fuel was on a more equal footing with gasoline. (Read: forever.)

Walker confirmed this suspicion Tuesday night when he fired Liz Mair, the campaign advisor he had just hired….

This pattern is so damning of Walker, because there’s no way we can expect it to end with Iowa. He rolls over for the special interests on “our side,” which is exactly the problem with today’s GOP writ large.


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It could have been handled better. It’s a black eye, but not a knockout, especially when combined with the apparent flip on ethanol. He’s going to have to learn to stand up to the party’s go along get along crowd or he’ll alienate the base. I’m hoping he can do it because I like the guy and wouldn’t mind seeing him take up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW.

My view is that campaign aids should be like Civil War Union generals.

Totally expendable and interchangeable, and only retained if they are getting results and winning battles.

I seem to recall that McClellan was very popular and had lots of power friends. He was also not the man for the job.

    gregjgrose in reply to Ragspierre. | March 19, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end. –IK

    Much more impressive, I’m sure, in the original German. If we’re supposed to, allowed to, or even indifferent to, Walker’s character, does(n’t) how he treats his underlings reflect upon it?

      gregjgrose in reply to gregjgrose. | March 19, 2015 at 4:02 pm

      scilicet “care about”

      Ragspierre in reply to gregjgrose. | March 19, 2015 at 5:13 pm

      Well, see, we likely have a different perspective.

      A lot of managers…especially those in middle management…are “kind” and will retain a person in a position they should not. But it is “nice”.

      I deplore that. I think it is not just unjust to do, but unkind, in fact. People are not happy in jobs they are unsuited for. One does them no favors to indulge one’s own reticence to act decisively.

      Put another way, I don’t think you do any favors to anybody by being gutless. Which, of course, is never to imply one need be nasty to anyone.

        ss396 in reply to Ragspierre. | March 20, 2015 at 10:10 am

        The issue appears to be whether Gov. Walker would be gutless for yielding to the Iowa GOP, or if he would be gutless for not standing up to the Iowa GOP.

        That is, the real issue is “what’s in your wallet?”

    creeper in reply to Ragspierre. | March 19, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    Recall what Lincoln said when Congress wanted him to sack Grant, McClellan’s replacement: “I cannot spare this man. He fights.”

It’s only March 2015 and I already have fauxtrage fatigue.

When the news stories are about staff instead of the candidate it is time to go. I am glad Walker didn’t waste any time on it. There was a problem and he solved it fast. No excuses, no angst, no diversion. No one else will do this on his campaign staff as the precedent is set.

southcentralpa | March 19, 2015 at 10:44 am

Policies aside, you simply cannot use the f-bomb like that on Twitter…

He’s not my top choice but Walker deserves high marks for swiftly booting the liberal Amnesty shill off his staff before she stunk the place up. It’s really too bad if some ostensibly conservative bloggers are pushing Establishment liberals behind the scenes — and even worse when they do so in a public manner intended to weaken a candidate. Ericson, Goldberg, et alia just lost a significant chunk
of credibility. Walker not so much.

The hissy fits of the ‘conservative’ bloggers, activists, etc. were over the top, to put it mildly. I couldn’t look away, it was like watching a slow motion train wreck.

How willing the ‘conservative’ sites were to tell only part of the story (or perhaps misrepresent it?), just like the good old MSM whom they’re so fond of bashing. One site in particular, that shall remain nameless, and one that I trusted up until 2 days ago, tried to imply Boyle’s whole problem was with the individual’s dual citizenship, something that didn’t even come up on the Iowa GOP’s radar.

What was so very disheartening about this episode was to see how quickly and viciously the conservative blogosphere is willing to spring into action, using all the most deadly arrows in their quivers, just like the MSM, when it is one of their own, and against the rubes. Pathetic, really, because you realize that it means that even if we ‘win’, we’re only trading one set of paid consultants who will shape the narrative as they see fit, for another. And these were supposed to be our Good Guys, those who would keep the Bad Guys, our politicians, honest. Ha.

DDsModernLife | March 19, 2015 at 11:06 am

I’m reminded of the “etch-a-sketch” comment during the Romney campaign of 2012 – not expressed by Romney himself but by a senior campaign adviser. Still, it came from the campaign and thus the candidate; it almost made me stay home on election day.

This is not Little League. For whatever reason, Mair is off the team. Good.

Henry Hawkins | March 19, 2015 at 11:20 am

Consider what would have happened if Walker kept Mair on after her twitter gaffes. He would have been excoriated for *not* firing her and for the imnplication that he approved of the content of her tweets.

If you are screwed either way you go, then go the way that eliminates the staffer who brought forth the unnecessary gaffe. Walker made the right and only decision. Mair screwed up, put the candidate in trouble her first day on the job, and got fired. Anybody who has a problem with that is simply using this minor footnote event as a way to attack Walker.

    gregjgrose in reply to Henry Hawkins. | March 19, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    >> … Mair screwed up, put the candidate in trouble her first day on the job, and got fired. …

    Except that, per Goldberg, her positions were on the record before she was hired, so who screwed up?

    If the answer is, both of them, but at least he puts out fires quickly, I suppose I can live with that.

    Maybe Carly can keep an eye on these kind of things when she’s the running mate.

      creeper in reply to gregjgrose. | March 19, 2015 at 5:39 pm

      I’m inclined to agree. Mair had worked for Walker before, so she was no stranger. Bad call from the get-go.

        Henry Hawkins in reply to creeper. | March 19, 2015 at 7:02 pm

        Regardless of how good or bad she is, regardless of whether she was well known to Walker’s team or not (duh, they hired her), the point is that right out of the gate she screwed up with tweets that put her employer in defensive mode. He fired her. She made him.

        Is there a human resources department anywhere in America that has never made a bad hire? Does vetting always find everything?

        The thing to look for is a *pattern* of bad hires or fires. That indicates a problem.

This is just a side show but it points out the many things that we do not know about Walker. Being a gov from WI is great and his battles withe left there are solid but where is he on the many US wide issues? That is where this line of questioning should be going and not the nit picking that we see here. Twitter and FB are going to be the death of a lot of young people who post opinions there and then have to live with the consequences there of. Mair is living proof of it.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to inspectorudy. | March 19, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    Except for the basics (pro-life, pro-2A, etc.) no GOP candidate is going to get but so specific so early in the race, nor any Dem candidate, for that matter. Any detailed policy Walker promotes now will be taken up, twisted, and spun out of control by the media, of course, but also by his own party, the GOP, which does not like accomplished outsiders from the hinterlands, and has already picked out their baby: Jeb Bush. We can forget how early it is, that this is a race where nobody has even declared yet.

She should have used her Hillary’s server.

[Off Topic Sarcasm]
I understand that running this place takes money, and that ads are a prime source of revenue; I don’t even have a problem with LI having a Jokes Page (referring to the ads from DSC). But running ads that include pictures of Fauxcahontas? Really, the line must be drawn somewhere!
[/Off Topic Sarcasm]

I be more concerned, Erick Erickson and Jonah Goldberg, if Walker changed his conservative ways. Staff is hired and let go ALL the time-in every company, in every town.

As president, I expect Walker to relieve someone of their position if they were not a good ‘fit’.

If Walker’s actions make you apoplectic then vote for Jeb Bush.

asking an open borders illegal immigration fan a question about the oddities of this persons dual citizenship is not a wtf the moment.
and while the questions (2 iirc) were asked it was her that leaked the questions to other people in order to create the storm.
and if that doesn’t raise a flag with a person then that person needs to examine themselves.

I’m more interested in Scott Walker’s policies as well…

His “right to work” stuff in Wisconsin is laudable, BUT:
The guy ought to run with Jeb Bush.

Whether those are “his own” positions or those of his “handlers” is utterly immaterial to me.

Both are NO GO issues for me.
And, no, this is not “the perfect being the nemy of the good”.

I’m open to Cruz, Jindal or perhaps some other candidates without these disqualifiers.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to Kauf Buch. | March 19, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    Walker’s position on ‘amnesty’ (q-ed because everyone defines it differently) is that he supports a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants but that people waiting in line should have first preference. He offers a rather boilerplate standard word on it, like just about every other candidate out there:

    “We just have a broken system. And to me, if somebody wants to come in and live the American dream and work hard … we should have a system that works and lets people in.”

    Personally, I have no problem with this – depending on how Walker details the phrase ‘pathway to citizenship’ for illegals, which could mean an easy walk in and take a seat, new citizen, of the Left, or something much more stringent, like $$$ penalties, go back home and reenter thru home country’s system, or even jail time. I don’t know. Walker is wise to not release details on this issue before he has even declared he’s running. Walker is such a good candidate, I’m willing to wait and see before I wipe him of my menu.

    AAs for Common Core, Walker differs little from Jindal – once was for it (tolerant till learned more about it in both Walker & Jindal’s cases), and are now against it. Upon taking office first term in WI, Walker inherited their Read To Lead program, which the Obama admin co-opted by making Race To The Top ed money contingent upon a state accepting ‘higher standards’, except they finds reasons to reject anything but Common Core higher standards, of course. So, Walker agreed to fund it going into office, but ordered studies on its efficacy. The results disappointed and Walker killed Common Core, then ordered research on a better plan. He has been adamantly against Common core since early 2013.

    I’m open to Cruz and Jindal, too, but it’s a little premature to be trimming the list so early and on so little.

      Ragspierre in reply to Henry Hawkins. | March 19, 2015 at 3:06 pm

      “We just have a broken system. And to me, if somebody wants to come in and live the American dream and work hard … we should have a system that works and lets people in.”


      Current law. People DO come in. Legally.

        creeper in reply to Ragspierre. | March 19, 2015 at 5:41 pm

        The only thing wrong with the laws we had was that we did not enforce them for years.

          Henry Hawkins in reply to creeper. | March 19, 2015 at 7:06 pm

          That’s exactly right, the core of the problem. Once a nation of laws begins to ignore its own laws, nothing but trouble can ensue. I’d advise any candidate to develop this theme, because there are any number of examples of it, immigration being among the most obvious.

As we tell our kids DON’T put anything on the internet that could hurt you in your future… since we don’t know our future, be very careful. I don’t think Ms. Mair was careful enough to be on a Republican campaign. Democrat, yes. The double standard sucks – welcome to the Right Ms. Mair.

“The anti-Walker messaging is eerily consistent across the board on the Mair deal, trying to push a meme that it’s a sign Walker will roll over to D.C. special interests.”

In my academic research days, the rule of thumb was that if you have multiple sources in consistent agreement, they’re mostly likely either, a) referencing the same source in turn, or b) referencing each other.

So if the anti-Walker political messaging is “eerily consistent”, I have to wonder: Who’s writing and disseminating the talking points? Who is the “shared source”?

    Henry Hawkins in reply to Archer. | March 19, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    Either/or Jeb Bush & GOP. Establishment GOP moderates attacking a conservative DC outsider with a scary good record and scarier momentum.

There are a few sites that I have stopped visiting as much since they are already doing the negative opinions. I want to know the positives about all of the candidates first.

Also, I think we all need to be talking about the need for closed primaries. Forget the caucuses since they seem to be more of a playground style of picking teams, complete with the potential of bullying people. Closed primaries prevent people who are not registered as Republicans from helping to chose our candidates.

In my state, you have to change party registration at least 30 days before a primary to vote. It stops the last-minute crossover vote. What’s interesting is that the majority of the registered voters were Democrat, yet Oklahoma has been sending Republicans to Congress for many years. I think the state registration has finally turned a slim Republican margin.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to Liz. | March 19, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    I’m a conservative but not a registered Republican, though I vote Republican 90% of the time. (The other 10% is local office – in eastern NC we still have Democrats who are to the right of the Lindsey Grahams, John Boehners, and other GOP national leaders). I’d be kept out of the primaries by your recipe, which is fine by me – I’m not a Republican after all, and the GOP can do as it wishes. I do think it’s worth losing the few voters like me to keep out potential hordes of Dems crossing over to try and mess up a primary.

3rd and 4th tier staffing decisions are all the hot news for four days. If we are so bored, how about cutting back on campaign coverage until about March next year?

Henry Hawkins | March 20, 2015 at 10:42 am

Pre-primary season is the time for hiring and building campaign teams and seeking campaign donors. Any new enterprise needs a bit of time for newly hired staff to get to know one another and how to work together. Problems here and there are to be expected. This is true for Democrats or Republicans. I expect Democrats to jump on anything they see, but I am deeply disappointed to see so many conservative bloggers and pundits jump on this nothing burger.