The second GOP presidential debate was not a "breakthrough" for Scott Walker:
* The Politico headline was harsh: "Scott Walker swings, misses and his campaign scrambles." Politico went on to comment that "Walker knew he needed a breakthrough performance...He didn't get it....for long swaths of the unruly, three-hour debate Walker seemed entirely absent";
* Washington Post conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin wrote: Walker "seemed hard-pressed to get a word in and fell back to relying on his anti-union crusade as proof of his ability to lead as president...(He) will have a tough time drawing attention and donations";
* New York Times columnist Gail Collins opined: "Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin repeated his previous debate trick of vanishing entirely into the scenery. Walker's poll numbers are vanishing, too, and it appears his only playing card is to remind people that he fought against public employee unions. Lately he's been desperately upping the anti-union ante so much that his next step would have to be demanding that federal employees be prohibited from talking with one another outside of work";
* Finally, Washington Post pundit Chris Cillizza summed it up succinctly: "Walker was sort of a nonentity. He needed to make headlines; he didn't."
So as Bob Dylan sang: "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue". Walker's campaign is in a downward spiral. However, a desperate and panic-stricken Walker will become more incendiary. He will double down on appeals to prejudice and scapegoating. Politico said: "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker blamed President Barack Obama...for the recent spate of attacks on police". And, Bloomberg's headline said it all: "Flummoxed Scott Walker returns to unions." It gets worse.
Walker is now promising to "wreak havoc on Washington". So much for hope and uplifting rhetoric. Besides, the GOP-led Congress is poised to "wreak havoc on Washington" by once again manufacturing a crisis (over funding for Planned Parenthood) and shutting down the federal government. Moreover, GOP presidential contenders (except Ohio Gov. John Kasich) are stirring up anxiety, fear and paranoia, emboldening GOP congressional extremists to take the nation over the cliff.
Kasich warned his party not to shut down the government. And, he brilliantly panned the GOP presidential debate: "If I was sitting at home watching this back-and- forth, I'd be inclined to turn it off. People at home want to know what we're going to do to fix this place." Finally, a conservative grown-up.
-- Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C. for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995-2009.