In Defense Of Scott Walker’s ISIS Answer

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is taking some heat for an answer he gave at CPAC. “If I can take on 100,000 protesters,” he said, “I can do the same across the globe.” Not everyone was impressed. As Jim Geraghty noted, “taking on a bunch of protesters is not comparably difficult to taking on a Caliphate with sympathizers and terrorists around the globe, and saying so suggests Walker doesn’t quite understand the complexity of the challenge from ISIS and its allied groups.”

Part of the problem, I suspect, is that few governors have foreign policy experience, and so, they must rely on what experience they do have. For Walker, his greatest crucible has been taking on the unions, and thus, it becomes a crutch to rely on whenever someone asks him any question that might possibly be remotely related (I seem to remember Rick Perry trying to make every question about oil and energy, at some point during his 2012 campaign).

It might sound like a non sequitur, but is it really absurd for Walker to suggest that — just as he was courageous in standing up to the unions — he might also be courageous in standing up to other foes? Consider this New York Times op-ed about Reagan’s handling of the striking Air Traffic Controllers union:

He showed federal workers and Soviet leaders alike how tough he could be. Although there were 39 illegal work stoppages against the federal government between 1962 and 1981, no significant federal job actions followed Reagan’s firing of the Patco strikers. His forceful handling of the walkout, meanwhile, impressed the Soviets, strengthening his hand in the talks he later pursued with Mikhail S. Gorbachev.

To be sure, there are many differences between the Soviets and ISIS. I’m not suggesting the two are analogous. But is it absurd for Walker to argue that the key to defeating ISIS — or really, any military enemy — is to elect a president who fights hard and doesn’t back down?