“Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking.”
—H. Jackson Browne, Jr.
One year ago today, news outlets all over America were abuzz with a blockbuster story about Wisconsin’s new governor. Instead of the glib sound bites and scripted talking points Scott Walker had been sticking to in the midst of national media attention over the civil war he’d touched off in his state, Walker’s true motives and his extreme propensity for deceit were revealed in a phone call that had been recorded the day before.
Believing he was talking to billionaire backer David Koch, Walker—perhaps for the only time spanning his entire 2010 campaign and his administration—spoke with a level of candor that comes only with the assumption that no one else was listening.
What did we learn about what Scott Walker says when he thinks no one is listening?
- Walker Knew He Was Starting a War With Workers. Contrary to his repeatedly falsified claims that he campaigned on his proposals, Walker described the process of introducing his radical agenda as having “dropped the bomb” on public employees. Well, he didn’t campaign on dropping bombs or ending 50 years of labor peace in the state, and the civil war he touched off has divided Wisconsin like never before.
- Walker Was Lying Publicly About Compromise, Attempting to Deceive Opponents. While claiming publicly a willingness to negotiate in good faith and multiple PR stunts to suggest it was Democrats unwilling to work together, Walker freely revealed his strategies to deceive lawmakers into returning to negotiate and boasted of multiple schemes to intimidate, harass, and disparage them. “We’re going to ratchet it up every day,” he boasted.
- IN FACT, Walker Told Koch Not To Worry About His Public Comments. Discussing the ongoing public back-and-forth with Democrats, Walker assured “Koch” he could ignore the sincerity of any compromise overtures as attempts to lure his opponents into a trap—and boasted of the “baseball bat” Koch suggests he use:
Walker: “If you heard that I was going to talk to them that would be the only reason why.”
Murphy: “Bring a baseball bat. That’s what I’d do.”
Walker: “I have one in my office, you’d be happy with that. I’ve got a Slugger with my name on it.”
- Walker Had No Qualms About Using Thousands of Workers as Political Pawns. Despite public employee unions having offered to sacrifice what Scott Walker was asking in terms of higher pension and health care contributions, Walker said he was preparing layoff notices for five to six thousand employees to force through his union-busting provisions on collective bargaining rights, dues collection and recertification – issues having nothing to do with the “fiscal crisis.”
- Walker Admitted They’d Considered Planting “Troublemakers” in Crowds. Responding to the suggestion they place “troublemakers” in the crowd to discredit protesters, Walker said, “We thought about that.” He then explained they’d decided against it – not because it was sleazy or unethical – but because they calculated it to be a bad tactical decision.
As David Koch continues to profess his limitless support for Scott Walker and their shared extreme agenda—and as Walker and friends attempt to rewrite history from the 2010 campaign and the war he touched off when he “dropped the bomb” on Wisconsin—there is perhaps no better reminder of the real Scott Walker than the content of this singular conversation.