Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Reveals His Secret Standoff Strategy in Prank Call


Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker had a candid 20-minute conversation with
billionaire Republican donor David Koch, or so he thought. In reality,
the caller was Buffalo Beast reporter Ian Murphy,
who recorded the call and posted it online. Walker is battling
Democratic state legislators over his plan to curtail the power of state
government workers’ unions; thousands are protesting in the capital. The call reveals him to be at turns
sympathetic and a jerk.

Murphy, noting a state senator’s
complaint that Walker is “just hard-lined–will not talk… will not
return phone calls,” decided to test just how hard it is to get the
governor on the line. So he pretended to be Koch, and a receptionist
immediately transferred him to Walker’s executive assistant.

The
resulting chat has some embarrassing moments:  Walker agrees with fake
Koch that MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski. is a “real piece of ass.” He indicates he’d accept an offer from fake Koch to “fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time” once “these bastards” are crushed.

Murhpy gets a scoop, Dave Weigel says, when Walker reveals his strategy involves tricking the opposition:
He says he’s trying to trick Democratic state senators into coming back
into the state for a meaningless talk so that Republicans will have a
quorum to pass the bill.

WALKER: … An interesting idea that was brought up to me by my
chief of staff, we won’t do it until tomorrow, is putting out an appeal
to the Democratic leader. I would be willing to sit down and talk to
him, the assembly Democrat leader, plus the other two Republican
leaders—talk, not negotiate and listen to what they have to say if they
will in turn—but I’ll only do it if all 14 of them will come back and
sit down in the state assembly. They can recess it… the reason for
that, we’re verifying it this afternoon, legally, we believe, once
they’ve gone into session, they don’t physically have to be there. If
they’re actually in session for that day, and they take a recess, the 19
Senate Republicans could then go into action and they’d have quorum
because it’s turned out that way. So we’re double checking that. If you
heard I was going to talk to them that’s the only reason why. We’d only
do it if they came back to the capitol with all 14 of them. My sense is,
hell. I’ll talk. If they want to yell at me for an hour, I’m used to
that. I can deal with that. But I’m not negotiating.

One moment
that makes Walker more sympathetic, if only to his ideological allies,
is the revelation that he thinks the people of Wisconsin are on his
side. (He’s wrong about that, Jonathan Chait notes.)

This might count as damning with faint praise, but at least Walker doesn’t want to use “troublemakers” to beat up the protesters, communist-crackdown-style.

Koch: We’ll back you any way we can. What we were thinking about the crowd was, uh, was planting some troublemakers.

Walker:
You know, well, the only problem with that -because we thought about
that. The problem-the, my only gut reaction to that is right now the
lawmakers I’ve talked to have just completely had it with them, the
public is not really fond of this…[explains that planting
troublemakers may not work.] My only fear would be if there’s a ruckus
caused is that maybe the governor has to settle to solve all these
problems…[something about '60s liberals.]…Let ‘em protest all they
want…Sooner or later the media stops finding it interesting.

Though he’s not opposed to physically intimidating lawmakers.

    Koch: Bring a baseball bat. That’s what I’d do.

    Walker: I have one in my office; you’d be happy with that. I have a slugger with my name on it.

In
a way, perhaps the guys that come off worst of all are rich people. The
call shows that all that campaign cash buys you something else: license
to be weird, and to force politicians to listen to your weird ideas, as
Politico’s Ben Smith notes.

The Buffalo Beast’s site is down, likely due to a huge influx of traffic. Here’s audio of the prank call:

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