Scott Walker, Ron Swanson and Waffles

I don’t know if Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) is a fan of the NBC program, Parks and Recreation, but I’m pretty sure he wants to channel his inner-Ron Swanson these days and take Wisconsin’s legislative Republican leaders out for waffles.

Ron Swanson

Ron Swanson

If you’re not an avid watcher of the show, please allow me to explain. The comedy features an Indiana city councilwoman and her struggles navigating the politics of her small town. A recent episode had the central character,  Leslie Knope, trying to figure out how to derail a co-worker’s plan to site a dog park where she had pined for years to build a park for kids.

She heads down the City Hall corridor to her mentor, the aforementioned Swanson, who runs the Parks and Recreation department where she used to work. In his typically deadpan fashion, he advises her that in the past, he’d simply give her busy work to divert her attention from a topic she was passionate about and if she were “really amped up about something, I’d take you (to a local restaurant) and distract you with waffles.”

Over the last few days, we’ve seen reports about Republicans in the legislature who, in the 2013 session, want to do things like removing same-day voter registration, changing the composition of the Government Accountability Board from retired judges to political appointees, and cracking down on illegal immigration with an Arizona-like law.

All the while, the governor continues to say, as he did yesterday to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, “My priority is about jobs, creating jobs.”

That’s by no means a new sentiment from the governor who echoes that refrain every chance he gets. However, as memories of his 2012 recall fade, he knows his 2014 re-election hopes depend on how he’s doing in handling the economy.

As he told me in an August, 2011 interview before he was ever recalled:

“I think in the end, what I’m going to be judged on whether it’s in 2012 or 2014, is how far have we gone down the path of the single biggest promise I made, which was to help the people of the state create 250,000 jobs.”

waffles    The governor knows conversations about anything besides the economy are bound to take attention away from the single issue he believes matters most to Wisconsin residents. He may approve of some of those legislative issues being discussed by Republicans,  in fact he was the one who first brought up the same-day voter registration issue in a speech, but he wants Wisconsin to know they’re not his priorities.

It’s likely why he’ll want to schedule a carbohydrate-heavy meal at Mickie’s Dairy Bar or some other great breakfast joint outside the Capitol for his Republican legislative friends.

Waffles, as Ron Swanson points out, are always a great distraction.


Just as an aside, every time I hear a story about the fiscal cliff and sequestration and federal budget issues, I’m reminded of Charles Grodin in the movie, “Dave.” He’s the accountant that Dave, who’s pretending to be the President, invites to the White House to have a sandwich and to balance the budget.

What’s going on now in Washington is no laughing matter, but these scenes from the movie that show what they came up with, certainly are.

Just like waffles, levity provides a nice distraction as well.