Earlier today, when news broke that a liberal blogger from the site Buffalo Beast claimed to have successfully prank called Gov. Scott Walker by posing as liberal hate figure and billionaire libertarian donor David Koch, I thought that if true, this could really embarrass him. Since then, the call has been confirmed by Walker’s office as legit, but after listening to the whole thing, I think Walker comes off rather well.
Throughout the call, fake Koch makes a series of bizarre and over-the-top comments such as “gotta crush that union,” but Walker generally either changes the subject or treats the remarks politely without cosigning them, as a host or guest would do with a crazy caller on talk radio or C-SPAN.
Some liberals are claiming that Walker responded “oh yeah” when fake Koch referred to MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski as a “piece of a–.” But TNR‘s Jon Chait has had to correct his post to acknowledge that the early transcription was “totally misleading.” If you listen to the audio of the exchange (just before the 7 minute mark), you’ll hear that what actually happened is that fake Koch said, “You gotta love that Mika Brzezinski,” Walker said “Oh yeah” and started to change the subject, there was cross talk when fake Koch referred to her as a “piece of a–,” and then Walker goes on to tell an unrelated story.
Liberals are also seizing on Walker saying “we thought about that” when fake Koch suggested “planting some trouble-makers” among the protesters. But Walker actually goes on at length to explain why he doesn’t think it’s a good idea. “Let them protest,” he said. “It’s not going to affect us. And as long as we go back to our homes and the majority of people are telling us we’re doing the right thing, let them protest all they want.”
When Walker explained that they may have found evidence that unions were paying to put lawmakers up at hotels, which he said if true, would be an ethics code violation or felony, fake Koch chimes in “they’re probably putting hobos in suits, that’s what we do.” Yet Walker corrects him to say that he’s only talking about lawmakers: “People can pay protesters to come in, that’s not an ethics code (violation).”
Throughout the call, Walker explains why he believes what he’s doing is right, and that he intends to stand firm. “This is about the budget,” he said. “This is about public sector unions – hell, even FDR got it…You’re essentially having taxpayers’ money being used to lobby for spending more of taxpayers’ money. It’s absolutely ridiculous.”
At another point, he said: “If they think I’m caving, they’ve been asleep for the last eight years, because I’ve taken on every major battle in Milwaukee County, and won in a county even where I’m overwhelmingly overpowered politically. And it’s because we don’t budge. If you’re doing the right thing, you stay firm.”
And toward the end, he said, “We’re doing the just and right thing for the right reasons, and it’s all about getting our freedoms back.”
The worst you can say about the call — aside from the screening bungle by his staffers — is that he took 20 minutes of time to speak with a rich guy from out of state. But at the same time, the call undermines the conspiracy that Koch is secretly controlling events in Wisconsin, as Walker is clearly explaining the way things are to fake Koch and the decisions he’s making, rather than acting on Koch’s suggestions. Also, as some have pointed out, their interaction on the call seems to suggest that the two don’t know each other, or at the least, not very well.