Scott Walker's stunning implosion: Can this dope's campaign be saved?

His birthright citizenship flub is the least of it. The early Iowa frontrunner looks worse and worse by the day

Published August 24, 2015 6:20PM (EDT)

Scott Walker                     (Reuters/Carlos Barria)
Scott Walker (Reuters/Carlos Barria)

The impression is fast setting in that Scott Walker, former King of Iowa, is a nonsense person and a ridiculous presidential candidate.

What's been the hot topic over the past week? Ending birthright citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants. That's what Donald Trump wants to do, either through constitutional amendment or aggressively court-challenging statute. This isn't a new conservative idea, and it's something that plenty of other candidates have happily subscribed to for a conservative leg-up in the field. It's definitely not what RNC chairman Reince Priebus wants them talking about right now, but Reince Priebus can go suck an egg.

Where's Scott Walker been on this? Unclear. While many outlets interpreted him earlier this week saying that he did support ending birthright citizenship in an interview with NBC's Kasie Hunt, to us it read as more of a dodge. The "yeah" below was more of an acknowledgement that a question was directed towards him, rather than a positive reply to that question.

KASIE HUNT: Do you think that birthright citizenship should be ended?

SCOTT WALKER: Well, like I said, Harry Reid said it’s not right for this country — I think that’s something we should, yeah, absolutely, going forward —

HUNT: We should end birthright citizenship?

WALKER: Yeah, to me it’s about enforcing the laws in this country. And I’ve been very clear, I think you enforce the laws, and I think it’s important to send a message that we’re going to enforce the laws, no matter how people come here we’re going to enforce the laws in this country.

HUNT: And you should deport the children of people who are illegal immigrants?

WALKER: I didn’t say that — I said you have to enforce the law, which to me is focusing on E-Verify.

His campaign later "clarified" Walker's rambling mess by certifying the nonsensical dodge: “We have to enforce the laws, keep people from coming here, enforce E-Verify to stop the jobs magnet, and by addressing the root problems we will end the birthright citizenship problem.”

Scott Walker had a whole several days to sharpen up that position before he was asked again. Does he support ending birthright citizenship or not? This is a yes-or-no question on a constitutional issue. Or, whatever, just pull a Chris Christie and say we'll have to "reexamine" it. That's fine!

Either yes, no, or maybe would've been a better answer than the one Walker gave CNBC's John Harwood late last week. Like any great leader, he boldly, defiantly, bravely, ardently held his ground that... he has absolutely no opinion about this thing that he should have an opinion on.

"I'm not taking a position on it one way or the other," the 2016 Republican presidential hopeful said. Only after securing America's borders, he explained, is it appropriate to address the issue of birthright citizenship.

Only after the border is secure!, whatever that even means, will he share his opinion on the citizenship clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. This is among the better whiffs we've seen recently, perhaps going back to Jeb Bush saying he couldn't give his opinion on the Iraq war because it would offend the troops.

What's with this dope? It's even odder because his team had just made a big show of telling the New York Times that it was adjusting from a laconic, walled-off posture to a more assertive, Trumpian, anti-establishment one. "In a blunt self-critique," the Times reported, "Mr. Walker acknowledged on a private conference call with donors on Monday that voters had found him passionless. He announced a reset of his campaign, according to a participant in the call, in which he would take on the Republican establishment to show that, like Donald J. Trump, he, too, strongly opposed the status quo."

And how did that "reset" play out in the first few days of his launch?

KASIE HUNT: Do you support ending birthright citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants?

SCOTT WALKER: I uhh... snarf... *VOMITS*

[three days pass]

By Jim Newell

Jim Newell covers politics and media for Salon.

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