Inside the Beltway: Scott Walker acts presidential

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Maybe there’s a reason why Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, called his recent memoir “Unintimidated.” While Republicans cluck and dither over personal ideology and cautiously flirt with a master strategy for the 2014 midterm elections, Mr. Walker has cut to the chase. He gets it. The clock is ticking. Get busy. Pick up a weapon of choice and move forward.

“I say to fellow Republicans. Any Republican who’s focused on anything other than 2014 is doing a disservice to themselves, to their party and to their country,” the governor told a Chamber of Commerce audience in his home state on Wednesday.

“There’s a lot at stake in the 2014 election, not only in my case as governor, but the U.S. Senate is very much in play, and the question of holding the House or not,” Mr. Walker declared.

And where does he stand in the ever-present presidential possibility polls? Mr. Walker appears in all of them, usually in the middle of the pack — often running neck and neck with fellow gubernatorial competition such as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican. And interestingly, Mr. Walker’s potential is getting notice in wildly contrasting spots.

“The rise of Scott Walker: Wisconsin may be the most polarized state in the Union. It’s also what might put its governor in the White House,” predicts Slate magazine. Mr. Walker also ranks fourth in a massive Tea Party.net survey which lists 22 potential GOP candidates for 2016. He is only eclipsed by Sens. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, and Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, in first and second place, respectively, and Ben Carson in third.

ACT II, SCENE 1

There are several melodramatic narratives now in orbit around the debt-ceiling debate, which rattled to a close Wednesday after the Senate passed the legislation. Are the arguments over, now? Not exactly. Take House Speaker John A. Boehner, for example. In the wake of it all, he has been cast in two distinct roles by press and pundits.

Some insist Mr. Boehner is a canny, smooth operator who made a pre-emptive strike by shepherding the neat, clean, beautifully turned out debt-ceiling agreement through the legislative process for the betterment of the Republican Party. Observers reason that had the GOP dug in its heels and threatened another government shutdown, Democratic foes could beat them over the head with it as the 2014 midterm elections loom, and 2016 takes shape in the distance.

The other narrative casts Mr. Boehner as the capitulator-in-chief, a sellout whose intended bipartisan finesse will only empower the White House, Democrats and progressive activists to release their inner spending instincts and simply bankrupt the nation.

Republicans — who pine to remind the American public that Obamacare is a quagmire and that the GOP are the rational ones on Capitol Hill — are getting very few breaks in the press.

A victorious President Obama has won the fight, and the debt ceiling “is no longer a political weapon,” declared USA Today. There were multiple stories about “behind the scenes” angst. Some reports were obituaries: “The GOP’s debt-limit brinkmanship is officially dead,” noted Slate, while The Washington Post pointed out that “GOP debt limit extortion is dead.”

Combat terms also came into play. There’s a “civil war” now at work in the GOP, said MSNBC. And according to many accounts, Mr. Boehner and the Republicans either surrendered, backed off or gave in rather than fighting to the last soldier. There is still some sword-rattling going on, however, with more to come. So it ain’t over yet.

“Fiscal responsibility is the foundation of prosperity, and the vote on the debt ceiling was fiscal negligence,” said Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican. “Congress’ response to approaching the debt ceiling should be to debate and enforce policies that help put our country on the path toward a balanced budget. Instead, this vote gave the president a clean pass to continue on the destructive trajectory of big government spending.”

A WHOLE LOT OF LEMMINGS

“This is the same group that back in September and October went into a government shutdown that everybody knew was a disaster. They ended up looking like morons following Ted Cruz over the cliff.”

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