By Stephen C. Webster on February 10, 2014

Update, below: Rightwing blogger blames discrepancy on transcription error.

In an interview with a rightwing blog last month, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker claimed that he voted for Ronald Reagan when he "had just become a teenager."

Problem is, as The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's James Rowen first pointed out, Walker turned 13 on Nov. 2, 1980 -- two days before Reagan won his first presidential election. Even more problematic for Wisconsin's governor, Walker was just 17 when Reagan was reelected on Nov. 6, 1984.

That begs the question: Did Walker just admit to committing voter fraud as a teenager?

It seems unlikely. What's easier to believe is that Walker lied about the vote altogether, not thinking that his comments to a website called Right Wing News would get fact checked. He was right (no pun intended), but only up to a point.

Because of his obvious presidential ambitions, Walker's latest lie is now national news.

The comment came in the middle of a critique that Walker made of the Romney campaign. After all, one cannot run for president without explaining what the last guy did wrong and how you're going to perform even better. Here's the full context:

[Reagan's] campaign was much more than just being against Jimmy Carter. It was much more aspirational and Americans could see -- and to this day 33 years later -- you can still look back and say that and vote for Ronald Reagan. I remember, I was a teenager, had just become a teenager and voted for Ronald Reagan -- limited government, you know, smaller government, lower taxes, strong national defense. You knew what you were getting. You knew how a Reagan administration, a Reagan presidency was going to be better for you.

Nevermind the jaw-dropping claim that an administration which presided over the destruction of America's manufacturing base, planted the seeds of today's plutocracy and helped create al Qaeda was somehow "better for you" than the dovish, solar-loving Carter Administration. What's clear here is that Walker just told an unthinking lie. A tiny, inconsequential lie, uttered to a friendly blog he thought was just small enough that nobody important would Ever check up on his statements.

This is the kind of lie that only compulsive liars tell.

If he was lying about this, then he's very likely also lying about nearly being lynched by angry union thugs in La Crosse -- a key story Walker tells in his memoir to highlight his imagined heroism in the face of mortal danger.

And if he's lying about these two tiny, otherwise meaningless little things, the voters of Wisconsin can be assured that he's lying about much, much more. That's what compulsive liars do: They lie without thinking.

Walker might be the Republicans' current "it" boy, but yet another scandal-plagued governor is really the last thing the party substance needs right now.

Update: Rightwing blogger blames discrepancy on transcription error

Looks like Walker just got a convenient out from this one. Right Wing News blogger John Hawkins apologized on Monday for an error he blamed on an unnamed transcriptionist, claiming that Walker's quote was not accurate.

"I went back and listened to the audio," he wrote. "It's a little hard to hear at that point and unfortunately, my transcriptionist made an error."

He also published an excerpt from his audio in which Walker clearly says, "A vote for Ronald Reagan meant limited government," instead of the much more problematic quote that was carried in his story.

"All I can do at this point is apologize for the error," Hawkins added. "This was our mistake and it was very unfair to Scott Walker who is catching flack because of an honest error on our part."

Roger that. Lesson learned: Never take the claims of rightwing media at face value, even when they're just doing PR for their favorite sons.

Photo: Flickr user Ryan Dickey, creative commons licensed.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


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