Is our friend Slippery Scott Walker getting too slippery?
Signs are starting to pop up around the country that the Wisconsin governor's constantly changing positions may be catching up with him.
A Boston Globe political columnist was the most recent to raise questions about Walker's propensity to change his mind depending on which audience he's talking to on any given day.
"Scott Walker was in favor of a legal pathway for illegal residents, then he was against. And then he was for it again. Maybe." The Globe's Matt Viser continued: "On so-called Common Core national education standards? He once touted them, now wants to repeal them. On federal ethanol mandates cherished by farmers, particularly in Iowa? Once opposed to them, he now embraces them. His record of shifting stances also applies to abortion and 'right to work' legislation that makes it harder for workers to unionize."
As I noted in one of my columns last week, if the governor would campaign in a state that loves its passenger rail system, he would undoubtedly find a way to support it, despite single-handedly killing it for Wisconsin four years ago.
But even with the short memories that voters all too often exhibit, coming down on both sides of important issues can backfire, and Scott Walker may have just been too cavalier in switching his positions these past couple of months as he charges full steam into the race for the Republican presidential nomination.
Viser suggested that Walker may be following the playbook of Mitt Romney in 2008: Adopt positions that are more conservative than your record in an attempt to appeal to the Republican base.
Like it did for Romney, though, that strategy can lead to questions about the candidate's core convictions.
The Boston Globe columnist quoted Craig Robinson, a former political director of the Iowa Republican Party, saying, "These flip-flops or kind of maneuvering on issues has put an end to the Scott Walker honeymoon in Iowa. The thing is, people are looking for consistency and when they look at Walker they're not getting that today."
Chip Felkel, a South Carolina political consultant, added, "Maybe the feeling in the campaign is that voters are just gullible but I think he's going to have some accountability to deal with."
New Jersey's Republican Gov. Chris Christie, himself a possible GOP presidential candidate, in a veiled reference to Walker expressed dismay over candidates who pander. And Viser noted that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has insisted that in taking positions on complicated and important issues "you need to have a backbone."
Walker's political operatives downplay the governor's changing positions and AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Walker's Our American Revival PAC, told the Associated Press that "it's lazy and inaccurate to simply lump all issues into one narrative instead of actually examining the facts."
Well, Viser's lengthy piece in the Globe did make a good examination of the facts and concluded that our governor's record is replete with repositioning.
That's the reason that a lot of us in Wisconsin these days believe that the nickname "Slippery Scott" says it all.
Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @DaveZweifel
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