Though some Republicans were initially reluctant to connect the massacre in Charleston to racism, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) addressed the issue with clarity. “I want to make it abundantly clear that I think the act, the crime that was committed on Wednesday is an act of racism,” the Republican presidential hopeful said.
Got it. Would Walker be equally clear about the Confederate battle flag still flying at the South Carolina Statehouse? No, he wouldn’t. On Twitter, the Wisconsin governor wrote:
“RE: confederate flag in SC, it’s a state issue & I fully expect SC leaders to debate this after the victim’s families have time to mourn.”
Welcome to June 2015 – the point at which “It’s a state issue” becomes the new “I’m not a scientist.”
It’s true, of course, that it will be up to South Carolina to decide how and whether to consider changes. There will be no federal proposal on this, and it won’t be up to any president or out-of-state governor. Scott Walker will not have a direct say in the outcome.
But he, like all Americans, can have an opinion. Indeed, there’s an expectation that presidential candidates will speak their minds, especially on controversial issues, letting the electorate know where they stand on the major issues of the day.
Yes, this may be a state issue, but one need not be in the state to draw a conclusion. South Carolina still officially endorses and celebrates the Confederate battle flag at its state Capitol. Is that right or wrong? Is this a policy that should change or endure? The Republican Party’s 2012 nominee wants the flag to come down; do you agree or disagree?
Walker doesn’t want to talk about it. He could take this opportunity to lead, but he doesn’t want to – and if this dynamic seems familiar, that’s because this isn’t the first time it’s come up.
When he was asked whether President Obama is a Christian, Walker didn’t want to give a straight answer. He was afraid to say whether the president loves the country, too.
When he was asked whether he believes in modern biology, Walker also took a pass.
When GOP activists in Iowa told him he had to fire his online communications director, Walker was afraid to stand by the member of his own campaign team.
During his re-election bid last fall, Walker was evasive on all kinds of key issues, fearing a voter backlash.
The irony is, the Wisconsin governor frequently talks about the importance of bold leadership. When Walker might actually demonstrate some bold leadership as a national candidate remains unclear.