Scott Walker’s appeal to American conservatives is obvious. He’s as hard-nosed and unwilling to compromise as any conservative activist, but as deft as a seasoned party operative who knows how to pile up victories in hostile territory. Walker has bested Democrats in three consecutive statewide elections (an attempt to recall Walker in 2012 failed), and he has governed Wisconsin (a Democratic-leaning, labor-friendly state) as an unflinching hardliner since 2011.
That trifecta of executive experience, conservative governance, and blue-state electoral success has eluded movement conservatives in recent presidential elections, and Walker promises to break the streak.
But Walker has drawbacks, too. He’s a bit too socially conservative and reactionary for certain donor-class Republicans. He’s an operative at heart, which makes him susceptible to getting caught saying irreconcilable things to different audiences, and he courts a reputation for being a little bit dim.
But Walker's biggest liability may be this: He is incredibly dull. Not just plodding-speaker dull, though he’s often that, too, but an actually boring person. Mitt Romney is nobody’s caricature of a party animal, but he could legitimately boast of being an industrial titan, a fixer, and a man of the world. Hillary Clinton isn’t particularly charismatic, but her life story is filled with dramatic tension, and nobody who masterminded #Benghazi can be credibly dismissed as boring.
Walker, by contrast, is painfully boring. His boringness is encapsulated by this sequence of 37 incredibly boring tweets, going back more than four years.
Walker abbrevi8es like a tween. His life turns on snow, dairy, hot ham, Kohls, haircuts, Packers, Badgers, and watching American Idol while eating chili. His critics err when they mock him for lacking a college diploma, but they could be forgiven for concluding that his intellectual incuriousness is symptomatic of his lack of ambition outside politics. Walker didn’t drop out of college to travel the country or explore the world. He didn’t join a movement or start a business. He left college to run a losing, long-shot campaign for state assembly, then bided his time in the marketing department of the Milwaukee Red Cross until a better political opportunity presented itself. He’s been sharpening and refining his campaign tactics ever since, at the expense of all extra-curricular depth. His obsession with Ronald Reagan is extreme, even for a Republican of his stature, perhaps because he only has two realms of interest in which to seek role models, and Simon Cowell isn’t an American or a politician.
And yet, Walker’s track record is real. Most conservatives are rightly less interested in a politician’s worldliness and erudition than in his ability to win while pushing the limits of what’s politically achievable. This will allow Walker to raise considerable amounts of money. It’s the one thing that makes him viable. But it also raises two of the most important but overlooked questions hovering over his just-launched campaign: Is Scott Walker too boring to be elected president? And if he wins, will he be the most boring man to ever occupy the White House?