- Views & Opinions
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s new book isn’t exactly a tell-all. In fact, it glosses over or leaves out many of the most important parts of the story of his drive to destroy public unions and his subsequent recall battle.
“Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge” is scheduled for release on Nov. 19.
According to those who’ve previewed the book, three of the book’s most glaring omissions include:
Jobs promise: Walker promised in his 2010 election campaign that after four years as governor the state would add 250,000 private-sector jobs. It was a lynchpin of his campaign, and Walker reiterated it during the recall two years later, even though numbers at that point showed he was on pace to only add half that many. Under his leadership, the state continually has rated near the bottom nationally in job creation.
Incredibly, Walker never even mentions the promise in his book. Instead, the book focuses on how many jobs the state lost prior to his taking office (a claim debunked by Politifact) and how Walker argued during the recall that monthly job-collection data being used against him was inaccurate.
John Doe: Six people, including three of Walker’s former aides, an appointee and a major campaign contributor, were convicted of criminal charges as part of a secret John Doe investigation of his gubernatorial campaign during the time he was serving as Milwaukee County executive and running for governor.
Amazingly, Walker’s book doesn’t say anything about his closest advisers being convicted or the fact that he was interviewed by investigators and spent $650,000 on criminal defense attorneys.
Since the book was written, yet another John Doe investigation has gotten underway into possible criminal campaign violations tied to his recall race in 2011. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the investigation was launched by the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office in response to a variety of leads uncovered from the earlier John Doe investigation.
Polarization: Walker uses the book to position himself as presidential material. He contrasts himself with 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, suggesting that he’d be a stronger candidate due to his success at selling GOP policies. He fails to mention that Wisconsin became the most polarized state in the nation under his leadership, generating the largest and most intense protests the state has seen since the Vietnam War. Walker’s habit of ramming legislation through the Assembly without debate or explanation continues to keep the state polarized and floundering.
Nonetheless, his book points the finger at other Republicans for last year’s election losses, saying they did a “lousy job of presenting a positive vision of free market solutions to our nation’s problems in a way that is relevant to people’s lives.”
Walker’s book does not, however, avoid the infamously embarrassing episode in which he took a phone call from a DJ pretending to be billionaire David Koch, who’s helped to funnel millions of dollars into the governor’s campaign coffers in exchange for enacting Koch’s legislative and policy wish list. During the conversation, Walker told the man pretending to be Koch that he’d considered — but ultimately ruled out — planting agitators among the demonstrators swarming the Capitol to protest the governor’s demolition of public unions.
In the book, Walker and Mark Thiessen, who’s credited as the book’s “co-author,” claim that the governor had never actually considered the plant but “did not want to insult Mr. Koch by saying that we would never do something so stupid.”
Walker also claims that the episode was one of several he describes as divine inspiration — instances in which God interfered in his life to teach him a lesson.
“Only later did I realize that God had a plan for me with that episode,” Walker writes.
After holding a brief news conference during which Walker took only four questions from reporters about the prank, he picked up his daily devotional and saw that the title for the Feb. 23 reading was, “The power of humility, the burden of pride.”
Walker writes: “I looked up and said, ‘I hear you, Lord.’ God was sending me a clear message to not do things for personal glory or fame. It was a turning point that helped me in future challenges, helped me stay focused on the people I was elected to serve, and reminded me of God’s abundant grace and the paramount need to stay humble.”
In addition to taking down Romney, Walker’s book also attempts to paint him as presidential material by condemning Washington politics and Barack Obama’s presidency, saying Obama has laid out a second term agenda that “doubles down on the failures of his first.” He says Wisconsin’s Republican-led policies have shown a better way forward for the country.
“If we can do it in Wisconsin, we can do it anywhere — even in our nation’s capital,” Walker writes.
Democrats who fought Walker’s agenda in the Legislature and who helped organize the recall attempt laughed at his ludicrous omissions and self-aggrandizing claims, dismissing his book as fictional fodder to fuel his delusions of becoming president.
“I’ve never met anyone who wants to be president more,” said U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, a Democrat from Madison who served in the state Assembly during the union fight. “We knew the book was coming. We know he’s traveling all over the country. It would be nice if he put even a portion of that energy into creating jobs in Wisconsin.”
Critics have even scoffed at the notion Walker could write a book. He had a 2.59 GPA when he left Marquette University under mysterious circumstances without receiving a degree. Before dropping out, Walker was disciplined over alleged campaign fraud during a run for student body president.
Although no reporter has been able to ascertain what’s on his college record, many of his critics speculate that either he was kicked out of Marquette or accrued something on his record that was bad enough to prevent him from applying to another institution of higher learning.
After leaving Marquette, Walker worked in fundraising for the American Red Cross from 1990 to 1994, ending in another sudden and unexplained departure. Except for those four years, he’s never held a position in the private sector, which he claims to champion.
Wisconsin Democratic Party chairman Mike Tate said Walker’s book shows that he would only cause more divisiveness.
“He’s not the type of person who’s going to bring people together and sit people down around a table,” Tate said.
The release of Walker’s book comes roughly a year before he faces re-election in Wisconsin. One Democrat candidate, former Trek Bicycle Corp. executive and state Commerce Department Secretary Mary Burke, has announced she will challenge Walker. She’s already been backed by EMILY’s List, which put more than $5 million into U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s successful 2012 campaign.
Burke, who had not announced her candidacy before Walker wrote the book, is not mentioned in it.
While belittling Romney, Walker is much kinder to Romney’s running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. He calls Ryan, who is a close friend, “one of the smartest and most decent people I know in or out of politics.”
Walker says Ryan has the courage to tackle big issues and is a bold reformer. He trashes Romney for distancing himself from many of Ryan’s fiscal proposals.
Perhaps signaling his willingness to be considered for a vice presidential slot, Walker also offers praise to other Republicans who are considered potential 2016 presidential candidates, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Ryan plans to publish a book titled “Where Do We Go from Here?” next summer. But low recent polling numbers in his own congressional district could diminish Ryan’s presidential prospects and force him to spend time in Wisconsin.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.