Apparently, Rudy Giuliani’s question about whether Obama loves America wasn’t the only idiotic thing said at that dinner earlier this week. Governor Scott Walker also had to open his mouth and claim that busting labor unions was the way to intimidate ISIS and let them know we’re all tough and serious about destroying them. Seriously, he said that.
Larry Kudlow, over at the National Review, was part of that dinner, and his group — known as the Committee to Unleash American Prosperity — is concerned about our slow economic growth for the last 15 years. Kudlow backs conservative policies, and as such, backs Republican candidates for president. Talking specifically about Walker, Kudlow wrote:
Noteworthy, Walker argued that when Reagan fired the PATCO air-traffic controllers over their illegal strike, he was sending a message of toughness to Democrats and unions at home as well as our Soviet enemies abroad. Similarly, Walker believes his stance against unions in Wisconsin would be a signal of toughness to Islamic jihadists and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
What’s noteworthy is that these people actually believe that their hero, St. Reagan, accomplished anything having to do with foreign policy by firing the air traffic controllers in 1981. But apparently, Walker buys into it lock, stock and barrel, as he’s said this before. According to Politifact, in an interview on “Morning Joe” in January:
Years later, documents released from the Soviet Union showed that that exactly was the case. The Soviet Union started treating (Reagan) more seriously once he did something like that. Ideas have to have consequences. And I think (President Barack Obama) has failed mainly because he’s made threats and hasn’t followed through on them.
Politifact gave him a “pants on fire” rating for that. Walker’s office and campaign both gave statements from various officials to Politifact as evidence to back that up. But each statement said the same thing that Walker said: The firings showed the Soviets that Reagan was a serious president, not to be taken lightly. And those statements all came from Americans. There are no Soviet documents to back that up. Or if there are, nobody outside of a very tight circle has ever even heard of them.
While Politifact notes that it’s possible the Soviet Union took note of the firings, there’s no evidence whatsoever, even in speaking with Russian experts, that the firings made them sit up, take notice, and take us seriously. Many of these experts simply said that Walker’s claim was absurd.
But it’s not just that. ISIS is not the Soviet Union. They’re not a centralized government, and they have vastly different reasons for posing a threat than the Soviet Union did. Scott Walker just failed on foreign policy as far as ISIS and other Islamic jihadists go.
As far as Putin, Walker failed utterly to take other factors at the time of the ATC strike into account. Politifact points out that, in 1981, Reagan proposed adding $26 billion to defense spending, worked heavily on modernizing our nuclear weapons, and sped up the placement of new warplanes and tanks. So, really, what would have gotten the Soviets’ attention more? Firing all of our air traffic controllers, or a heavy defense buildup? At best, the firings were punctuation on all that defense buildup. Alone, the Soviet Union probably wouldn’t have even noticed.
Likewise, Putin is a lot more likely to pay attention to a candidate that wants heavy defense buildup, increased sanctions, and other things that are direct and indirect threats to him, than he is to someone who’s merely tough on U.S. labor unions.
The one question that comes to mind now is, “Really?” Scott Walker didn’t demonstrate that leadership can trump experience very well. If anything, all he did was show us that he has no understanding of either Russia or ISIS. Perhaps he should go to ISIS and Putin himself and say, “Hey! I’m anti-union! You better watch it; that proves I’ll come after you!”