More than one presidential candidate has struggled with foreign policy this year, but few have had as much trouble as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R). In March, the far-right governor, recognizing his troubles, arranged for a “crash course” in international affairs.
If yesterday was any indication, the tutorials really aren’t going well. The Washington Post reported:
Angry anti-China rhetoric from U.S. politicians escalated Monday as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) called on President Obama to cancel Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the White House next month. […]“Why would we be giving one of our highest things a president can do – and that is a state dinner for Xi Jinping, the head of China – at a time when all of these problems are pending out there?” Scott Walker told reporters following a visit to the Carolina Pregnancy Center in Spartanburg, S.C., on Monday afternoon.
As the governor sees it, China would “actually respect” us more if President Obama snubbed the Chinese leader. Let that thought roll around in your head for a moment.
In a written statement, Walker also said there are a series of major Chinese issues of great concern to the United States – the economy, currency manipulation, cyber-security, militarization of the South China Sea, human rights, etc. – and the Wisconsin Republican seems to think the best way to address these issues is for the White House to withdraw its invitation to the Chinese leader.
“We need to see some backbone from President Obama on U.S.-China relations,” Walker added.
Maybe the governor who’s afraid of his own positions on immigration should steer clear of backbone” rhetoric.
Dan Drezner, a center-right foreign-policy scholar and Washington Post contributor, called Walker’s argument “unbearably silly,” which is both fair and the kind of label presidential candidates should try to avoid.
In Slate, Joshua Keating said, “Cutting off dialogue with China at a time of rising tension seems disastrously short-sighted,” adding, “[I]t’s hard to avoid the impression that Walker simply saw that China was in the news today and decided to make some tough sounding noises about it.”
In April, after some unrelated nonsense from Walker on foreign policy, President Obama called the governor out by name. “Mr. Walker,” the president said, apparently needs to take “some time to bone up on foreign policy.”
That’s as true now as it was four months ago.