Walker tries a ‘fireside chat’

WALKER TRIES A ‘FIRESIDE CHAT’…. If Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) thought he was winning the fight over his union-busting efforts, he probably wouldn’t have felt compelled to deliver a statewide address last night.

But the far-right governor did feel compelled to speak for about 10 minutes to his constituents, in what was billed as a “fireside chat.”

I always find it difficult to know how “regular” folks will respond to a speech like this, but if Walker hoped to change the direction of the debate — or even offer a compelling defense for his controversial crusade — he appears to have fallen far short.

For example, instead of ratcheting down the rhetoric, the Republican governor reiterated his threat to start firing thousands of public employees unless he gets the punitive, anti-labor proposal he wants. Walker added that he’d blame Democrats for the layoffs.

He argued that his proposal is intended to “protect the hardworking taxpayer,” which seems odd given that taxpayers won’t save any money from ending collective bargaining rights, and many of those poised to get screwed are themselves hardworking taxpayers.

Perhaps most notably, Walker also insisted that “everyone else has to sacrifice.” What he neglected to mention is that state employees have already agreed to less pay and fewer benefits — in other words, they’re ready and willing to sacrifice — and the fact that the governor just handed out a bunch of tax breaks to those who he clearly doesn’t expect to sacrifice.

In the meantime, Walker apparently isn’t inspiring his ostensible allies, either. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) announced his opposition yesterday to his own party’s anti-union bill, and asked that it be pulled. Around the same time, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) announced he doesn’t have a problem with the collective-bargaining rights the Wisconsin governor is fighting to take away.

And even in Wisconsin, former Gov. Tommy Thompson, one of Walker’s Republican predecessors, notably declined to endorse the union-busting proposal currently under consideration.

If Walker thinks he’s winning this argument, he’s not paying close enough attention.