Politicians would like to control what they’re asked, but can’t

CAPITOL NEWSLETTER
Matt Pommer • Wisconsin Newspaper Association

What goes around comes around.

Gov. Scott Walker, a familiar voice on conservative talk shows, is being asked about topics that have been fodder in recent years on those outlets. And the governor is very unhappy about it. He wants to define the issues for the media.

For example, Walker was asked if President Obama is a Christian. The governor said he didn’t know, saying he had never talked about it or read about it. He would later describe it as a “gotcha” question.

The president’s life was a popular topic on conservative talk shows. His place of birth, his religion and history and race of his parents bounced around those talk shows. Recently, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said he didn’t believe that Obama loves America. Walker sidestepped the issue when asked for his view.

Earlier this year, Walker went to London to give a speech, ap- parently to bolster his foreign affairs credentials as he seeks the presidency. He was asked about evolution versus creationism. He initially sidestepped the issue (he called it a punt).

Later he regrouped by straddling the issue. “Both science and my faith dictate that we are created by God. I believe faith and science are compatible and go hand-in-hand.”

Back in Washington, the governor tore into the press for asking uncomfortable questions. Those issues are far from “what I think are the real issues,” he said. The attack on the press increased as his campaign group sought to raise money for this political operation.

His campaign sought to capitalize on the exchange.

“Now is the time to stand up against the publicity hounds and the journalistic pack and help Gov. Walker fight back with a “Friends of Scott Walker” contri- bution of $10 or $100 or $1,000 or whatever amount is right for you,” a fund-raising email pleaded encouraged.

The press isn’t done with difficult questions for Walker. Late last month, The New York Times reported a Walker appearance before a small prayer group meeting in Iowa and what he may have said about abortion issues; often a popular topic on the conservative talk show circuit.

Does Walker support a so-called “personhood” Constitutional amendment, which would define life as beginning at conception? That approach would effectively outlaw all abortions and some methods of birth control. Walker has repeatedly sidestepped questions about barring abortions after 20 weeks, according to The New York Times story.

The governor also is sidestepping the Obamacare issue that is going to the U.S. Supreme Court. Plaintiffs in the case want to prohibit income-linked subsidies for health insurance bought through statecreated exchanges. Wisconsin is one of those states.

Walker ducked the question of how Wisconsin would respond if citizens were unable to continue to receive federal subsidies to buy the required insurance. Walker said that would be up to the Congress to resolve. Republicans now control both houses of the Congress.

Another question Walker could face is his refusal to accept the more than $300 million in additional federal money for Medicaid. The governor contends he is worried the federal government won’t be able to finance it in future years and state taxpayers will have to foot the cost if that occurs. However, he neglects to mention that current lawmakers cannot bind future Legislatures on what laws to enact or programs to finance.


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