President Obama touched down in Milwaukee today and was met by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. President Obama came to Milwaukee to tour the MasterLock plant he touted in his State of The Union speech. The President boasted about the fact that the plant is running at full capacity for the first time in over a decade, as well as the fact that MasterLock was also able to "in-source" some of the jobs previously off-shored to China.
Many pundits speculated what would ensue when Wisconsin's Conservative folk hero (puke) met the President on the tarmac. The infamous photo of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer with her finger in the President's face led many to wonder if Walker would also have a Breweresque moment. Well, sorry to disappoint you all, but it was a little more cordial than that...kind of.
Walker handed over a Brewers jersey with the President's name on the back and bearing the number one. Last year, Walker made a similar move when he gave Obama a Packers jersey customized the same way. Ironically, both sports engage in collective bargaining with their players/employees. I am sure Mr. Walker overlooked that, and failed to mention it, when he presented the President with these gifts. I am sure the thought crossed both of their minds.
The "controversy" here isn't the innocuous gift exchange. No, it was Walker's actions after that have many scratching their heads. According to Walker and his staff, the Governor is experiencing a touch of the stomach flu and was not able to make it to MasterLock with the President. Instead, former Democratic Governor Jim Doyle attended the speech in his place. I find it odd that the Governor had the time and energy to meet the President on the tarmac for a quick photo op, but just couldn't bear to sit in a chair and listen to the President talk.
Honestly, I believe that the snub was intentional. I doubt it was the flu. Actually, I can't blame Walker for not wanting to be in close proximity to a man whom he had just torn apart at CPAC, for no reason. Can you say awkward? It would have also been tough for Walker to sit with a leader who has actually boosted private sector job growth, as opposed to himself, who has created job losses in the face of national growth. Hell, maybe Walker was simply afraid if he spent too much time around the President, he might actually learn how to conduct himself with integrity. Who knows?