Wisconsin governor Scott Walker received a warm reception from the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday evening, but faced a lot of criticism for his response to a question about what he would do to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. "I want a commander in chief who will do everything in their power to ensure that the threat from radical Islamic terrorists does not wash up on American soil," Walker said. "If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world."
Walker immediately faced criticism from the mainstream press, and even some conservatives, for allegedly likening union protesters to terrorists--a contention Walker strongly disputed in an interview with Bloomberg immediately after the speech.
"One thing I've said many times before is that one of the most significant foreign policy actions taken during my lifetime was when Ronald Reagan, who was a governor before he was president, fired the air traffic controllers. Even though it had nothing to do with foreign policy, I think it had a tremendous impact because it sent a powerful message around the world that this guy was serious," Walker said. "To our allies, you knew you could take him seriously and you could trust him. To our adversaries, you knew not to mess with him."
"My point was just that if I can handle that kind of pressure and kind of intensity, I think I'm up for the challenge of whatever might come if I choose to run for president," Walker added.
Walker has made this argument about Reagan and the air traffic controllers for a long time. So has Reagan's secretary of state George Shultz. As Peggy Noonan wrote in her book When Character Was King, Shultz "said that the [Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization] decision was the most important foreign policy decision Ronald Reagan ever made." No one thought that Shultz was suggesting American air traffic controllers were morally comparable to the men who ran the Evil Empire. So why would anyone believe Walker was likening union protesters to Islamist terrorists?