Election 2016

Scott Walker Was Coward During 2011 Wisconsin Protests

The truth about the "unintimidated" candidate comes out.

Photo Credit: https://www.scottwalker.com/

Once again at Wednesday’s presidential debate, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker boasted that he “took on union bosses from Washington” in his 2011 effort to crush state public-employee union rights.

But according to a stunning, detailed new statement by a former top Republican legislative aide, it turns out that Walker isolated himself and hid in tightly controlled, heavily-guarded environments during the conflict covering six intense weeks in early 2011—which directly contradicts his tall tale of courageously facing his adversaries.

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“Our unintimidated governor continued to only participate in private events with the media excluded or tightly controlled,” wrote Michael Boerger, former top aide to retired Senate Majority Leader Mike Ellis, in a September 10 Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel opinion piece.

Unintimidated is the title of Walker’s fact-challenged biography that recounts fiercely battling tens of thousands of pro-labor advocates as he pushed Act 10 into law. The legislation stripped most Wisconsin employees of any practical rights to union representation.

Walker’s reliance on his oft-told tale of political courage did not help deliver a breakout performance to counter his slipping poll numbers at Wednesday’s debate. But Boerger’s astonishing account of a man who hid from his critics and the public—but later boasted of facing down enemies—could mark a turning point for his 2016 ambitions. 

As Boerger noted in his recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel op-ed, while Walker sat quivering in fear, Madison police reported virtually no violence despite crowds of up to 150,000 protesters who stayed peaceful throughout the protracted battle over the legislation. 

Walker is a promoting a national anti-labor agenda as a cornerstone of his presidential campaign. In March, he signed a “right-to-work” bill for Wisconsin despite repeated assurances to the public and in private to conservative labor leaders that such a bill would never reach his desk. More recently, he has called for federal right-to-work laws, which discourage union membership and suppress wages, banning federal employee unions and closing the National Labor Relations Board. 

Even those who know Walker best are not impressed with his latest anti-union plans. Milwaukee’s Journal Sentinel, a conservative paper which endorsed Walker three times for governor, dismissed his call for “Act 10 nationwide” and basically called him a serial liar.

“It is more politicking from a governor who as recently as last year when running for re-election called right-to-work a distraction, then proceeded to sign the legislation anyway when it passed the Legislature,” it editorialized. “He can’t be trusted.”

Adding to the growing distrust of Walker are Boerger’s revelations that reveal Walker was hardly “unintimidated” in confronting unions. Last winter, candidate Walker ridiculously said that his battle with unionists showed that he could stand up to ISIS terrorists.

Walker has also repeatedly said that he showed leadership by pushing Republican legislative leaders to fully support Act 10, which Boerger resented. His op-ed opened, “As a front-row witness to the sad history of the passage of Act 10, I have to refute the notion currently being advanced by Gov. Scott Walker that he faced stiff opposition to his proposal from GOP legislative leaders.” 

Boerger’s comments reflect the bitterness of Republicans who feel that they took the brunt of criticism from voters and were forced to engage in extraordinary anti-democratic tactics to prevent a high-profile loss for the new governor under an international spotlight—as the Madison rebellion coincided with a popular uprising in Egypt and captured international headlines and TV coverage. Despite the GOP legislators’ willingness to bend the rules to pass Act 10 for Walker, they saw themselves as unappreciated by the governor. 

“Every day that spring, legislators had to run a gantlet of protesters and meet in public in the Capitol for committee meetings and legislative sessions,” stated Boerger. “Meanwhile, our unintimidated governor was making speeches in minutely controlled, private venues that often even excluded attendance by the media.”

Indeed, Walker was so petrified of any direct challenge that he initially planned to deliver his high-profile budget address away from the State Capitol in a more tightly-guarded site, Boerger said.

“At one point, the governor even planned to give his budget address outside the Capitol in such a private, security-dominated venue. Unintimidated? It was GOP leaders who convinced the governor to appear in public, in the statehouse as every other governor has done.” 

This is not the first account that has revealed Walker’s self-described profile in courage as a big lie. While Republican legislators often faced protesters in heated dialogue as they circulated around the Capitol, Walker remained cloistered in his heavily-guarded office and “slunk to and from the state Capitol via underground tunnels” with armed escorts, Guardian journalist Jeb Lund reported. 

As Walker’s presidential ambitions keep floundering, it is beginning to appear that he is fated to return his bunker at the Capitol—where he hid when he first launched his attack on labor and nurtured his presidential ambitions. But this time, he would be hiding from everyone who he used to fan his presidential ambitions.

 

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Roger Bybee is a Milwaukee-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in numerous national publications, including Z magazine, the Progressive, American Prospect and Foreign Policy in Focus. His e-mail address is [email protected].