In 1998, the late David Broder of the Washington Post made clear his disgust with then-President Clinton’s sex scandal. “He came in here and he trashed the place,” Broder said at the time, “and it’s not his place.”
Nearly 20 years later, what if a candidate came along whose goal was to trash the place? Consider the remarks Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) delivered yesterday:
“To wreak havoc on Washington, America needs a leader with real solutions,” Walker will say. “Political rhetoric is not enough – we need a plan of action. Actions speak louder than words. I have a plan to move this country forward.“To wreak havoc on Washington, America also needs a leader who has been tested. I have been tested like no one else in this race. We passed those tests and now, I am ready to lead this exceptional country.”
Note, the vow to “wreak havoc” – not in Washington, but “on” Washington, as if the governor were somehow playing the role of a monster in an adventure movie – wasn’t an accident. The far-right candidate included the phrase in his prepared remarks, and Walker used the line twice, presumably for emphasis.
Rachel, who noted the quote on the show last night, added that “wreaking havoc” is “a fundamentally new kind of presidential campaign promise.”
I realize, of course, that there’s considerable resentment nationwide, but since when does a candidate vow to “wreak havoc” on purpose?
In the Washington Post, Paul Waldman added, “Do Republican voters really want Washington to be overtaken by “havoc”? Some politicians say they’ll reform Washington, or clean it up, or change the way it does business. But havoc? It certainly shows that Walker is not going to bother telling Republican voters that governing is complicated, and you need someone who can navigate the processes and institutions of Washington if you’re going to achieve the substantive goals you and your party share.”
It’s hard not to wonder if Walker intended to run this way all along, or if he turned to a “wreak havoc” platform because his campaign has struggled so badly of late.
Either way, it’s a message unlike any I’ve seen from a credible presidential contender in quite a while.