By Stephen C. Webster on February 24, 2014

Just how bad is it getting for embattled Governor Scott Walker? Bad enough that he spent Sunday morning refusing to answer softball questions from Fox News and making excuses for why he's ducking the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

The media has been hounding Walker since last week's release of 28,000 pages of emails written by his associates from the governor's time as Milwaukee County Executive. The emails show Walker and his aides communicating on a private network during regular work hours and mixing campaign and county tasks. Six of Walker's associates were ultimately convicted in the first John Doe investigation, and while no charges were leveled against Walker, a second secret investigation is underway.

Walker dodged reporters all week, leaving the state after the document dump on Wednesday and heading for Washington, D.C., for the National Governors Association's winter meeting. There, he gladhandled GOP elites in an effort to dispel the growing suspicion that he's another governor dogged by scandals like New Jersey's Chris Christie.

Finally, on Sunday, Walker did what embattled Republicans usually do: He turned to the rightwing Fox News Channel for a little PR boost. That, however, appears to have been a big mistake.

Watch:

"If county workers were doing nothing wrong, why should they be using a private email account?" Fox News host Chris Wallace asked after displaying text from some of the secret emails.

Instead of playing the question like a straight shooter, Walker balked. "Well, but that's exactly to my point," he said. "You had a Democratic district attorney spend almost three years looking at every single one of those communications, interviewing people, talking to people, and closed the case last March."

"Did you know about the private email accounts?" Wallace asked again.

"No," Walker said. "Again, it's one of those where I point out the district attorney has reviewed every single one of these issues and..."

Wallace clearly wasn't buying it. "But sir, you're not answering my question," he said.

Walker appeared flummoxed by the pushback.

"No, because, I, I," he stammered. "I'm not going to get into 27,000 different pieces of information. The bottom line is, a Democrat who led the district attorney's office, who looked at all this, decided not to charge anything other than the individuals you mentioned, who were people who worked for the county in the past but don't work for me today. I think that's pretty straightforward."

"Straightforward"?

Hardly.

The bumpy exchange was quite appropriately summarized Sunday night by a viral image on Twitter featuring just two sentences from the interview:

Yeesh: @GovWalker's now ducking softballs from @FoxNews. pic.twitter.com/6yoD0Eekpf via @eedonoghue, #WalkerDocs

-- The Progressive (@theprogressive) February 24, 2014

Walker was confronted by a CNN reporter who asked a similar question later in the day. He refused to answer yet again, repeating his line about the district attorney. Walker added that if he did answer the questions, his response "would distract from my ability to be an effective governor in the state."

The governor did comment that he would not be attending this year's CPAC in March, an annual meet-and-green often seen as a launching pad for presidential aspirants that featured a keynote speech from Walker in 2013. He blamed "scheduling" conflicts for his decision to stay out of the national lens.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin newspapers spent the weekend blasting Walker for being even less up front than Christie, and a steady drip-drip-drip of emails from the trove of newly released documents showed Walker's aides making crass, racist jokes and speaking about matters of life and death in Milwaukee County in callous political terms.

It wasn't long ago that Walker was a darling of the rightwing media, willing to grant interviews to conservative cheerleaders in outlets large and small. Walker sat down with the rightwing blog American Thinker as recently as January 14, where his Q&A was introduced by flowery prose extolling his virtue as a "pragmatic, honest" governor who keeps his promises.

Walker then proceeded to hang himself with his own words.

"Governors should be defined not just by what they do and say, but who they surround themselves with, making sure to have the smartest person for a particular task or to head a specific agency," he said. "They should be judged on that basis and who they take advice from."

That may be the truest thing this governor has ever said.

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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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