Scott Walker’s non-position on Syria is so bad it makes Donald Trump look good

Jesus Tapdancing Christ, Scott Walker, you’re going to make me say something nice about Donald Trump. Shame on you. Your campaign is bad and you should feel bad.

But seriously.

Sparked by a viral photo of a drowned three year-old last week, the world is finally starting to take a serious look at the Syrian refugee crisis — which MercyCorps has called “the worst humanitarian disaster of our time.” And presidential candidates have started to weigh in.

With the exception of Scott Walker, that is.

Walker, when asked about whether the United States should accept Syrian refugees — and if so, how many — took the bold, principled position that he would not be taking a position on the issue. As he said, quoted by TalkingPointsMemo:

“I’m not president today and I can’t be president today,” Walker said when asked by ABC News about how he would address the refugee crisis. “Everybody wants to talk about hypotheticals; there is no such thing as a hypothetical.”

Scott Walker, via DonkeyHotey / Flickr

Scott Walker, via DonkeyHotey / Flickr

Setting aside for the moment that hypotheticals are, in fact, things that exist, this isn’t the first time Scott Walker has listened intentfully to a question about a pressing current issue and calmly responded with, “pass.” He has emphatically refused to take positions on evolution and birthright citizenship, and recently insisted that he didn’t say what he absolutely did say about the possibility of building a border wall with Canada. It’s becoming increasingly clear that Walker is unprepared to answer any question that the Kochs haven’t already answered for him, highlighting every worry that his supporters had before he entered the race.

Walker’s non-position sets him apart from the rest of the Republican field, as every other candidate who has weighed in thus far has at least offered some kind of opinion, generally acknowledging that the crisis requires some kind of action while warning that some of the refugees are probably affiliated with the Islamic State. Only Rand Paul has gone as far as to say that the threat of terrorism absolves the United States of any responsibility to aid any of the millions of refugees displaced by the Syrian civil war.

And — Scott Walker, take note — the most full-throated case for accepting Syrian refugees has come from (*throws up in mouth a little bit*) Donald Trump, who told Bill O’Reilly last night that — terrorist threat be damned — the United States has a moral responsibility to do something. As he said, again quoted by TPM:

There’s a lot of security risk with it. But something has to be done. It’s an unbelievable humanitarian problem…I hate the concept of it, but on a humanitarian basis, with what’s happening you have to.

Bear in mind that this response, while miles ahead of Walker, is still pretty weak. Donald Trump still insinuated that there are terrorists mixed in with the refugees coming into the country, and he still offered no specifics as to how many refugees our country should accommodate. But man, at least he said something to acknowledge that there are real people experiencing real hardship, and that the United States has the ability — and therefore the responsibility — to help out in the face of this humanitarian catastrophe.

As far as the Democratic field is concerned, Martin O’Malley has planted his flag firmly on the moral high ground. O’Malley has thus far been the only candidate to call for the United States to pull its full weight and accept the roughly 70,000 refugees that Oxfam — and a number of Senators and activists — say we can and should admit. Hillary Clinton, for her part, has said we should accept orders of magnitude fewer refugees.

Bernie Sanders has not yet weighed in on the issue.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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13 Responses to “Scott Walker’s non-position on Syria is so bad it makes Donald Trump look good”

  1. Number Six says:

    Hey, you started it!

  2. slavdude says:


  3. Number Six says:

    Your cheek or his?

  4. gratuitous says:

    Standard procedure for Walker, though. From what I’ve seen in Wisconsin, he’ll either dodge a question or offer up some crapulous pleasantry about an issue, but as soon as the ballots are counted in his favor, he’ll take the most odious option and run with it. It’s a mystery to me why the people of Wisconsin have put up with this patent bullshit, and voted for this Kochsucker three times in four years.

  5. slavdude says:

    Of course. I was being tongue in cheek.

  6. hidflect says:

    A lot of Trump’s policy ideas are to the left of Madame Hillary…
    (Yes, Trump does have a few policies.. )

  7. BeccaM says:

    I assure you, Trump is not saying what I’m thinking at all.

    For one, I like to think I’m not nearly as racist as he is.

  8. slavdude says:

    I wouldn’t worry too much, Jon, about Trump’s platitudes. If you’ll
    notice, his position is like that on every other issue: Full of
    generalities, no concrete specifics at all. All Trump has said is
    “something has to be done.”

    I’m beginning to wonder if that’s not all it’s going to take. Who cares about specifics when he’s just sayin’ what we’re all thinkin’?

  9. BeccaM says:

    I wouldn’t worry too much, Jon, about Trump’s platitudes. If you’ll notice, his position is like that on every other issue: Full of generalities, no concrete specifics at all. All Trump has said is “something has to be done.”

    That’s the feel-good/do-nothing position which any politician or would-be candidate can safely take. Something sufficiently vague that it can include compassionate solutions or horrific ones, such as forced repatriation.

    Scott Walker, on the other hand, really is nothing but an ass-puppet for the Koch brothers. He’s got cogent to say about foreign policy matters because David and Charles haven’t wiggled their fingers and given their boy his lines to parrot.

  10. Indigo says:

    I fully agree. One of the worst currently graces the $20.00 bill.

  11. quax says:

    Don’t think that the Donald stands a chance in the general election, but I also don’t think he’d be as bad as Reagan. The Donald is only in it for himself. It’s a big ego gratification trip, the dude has no ideology nor is he religious. We’ve seen worse.

  12. Indigo says:

    You’re right, The Trump is a performance artist. So was Ronald Reagan and look what happened. I am very afraid. And so should every thinking American be.

  13. quax says:

    Of the two Scott Walker is by far the scarier candidate. The Donald is just a performance artist who spouts whatever BS helps him in the polls, he isn’t bought and paid for like Koch’s sock-puppet.

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