Is Wisconsin's Scott Walker in trouble?
- 28 August 2014
A review of the best commentary on and around the world...
It's been rough going recently for Republican 2016 presidential hopefuls.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, an early frontrunner, has been mired in his bridge-related scandal for months. Florida's Jeb Bush's support for Common Core education reform is increasingly alienating him from the conservative base. And Texas Governor Rick Perry - always a long shot, to be sure - looks even less likely to catch fire thanks to his recent indictment on abuse of power charges.
So far, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a favourite of the grass-roots conservative Tea Party movement, has maintained his standing as a top-tier presidential prospect. But he's running for re-election this fall, and recent polls indicate that he could be in trouble.
In a Marquette University survey released this week, Mr Walker's Democratic opponent, Mary Burke, has a 49%-47% lead over among likely voters.
Slate political correspondent John Dickerson writes that even if Mr Walker wins in November, the "Walker Hypothesis" - "that a politician who enacted conservative policies and didn't shrink from the resulting controversy would be rewarded by a wide range of voters" - is dead.
Mr Walker has governed Wisconsin as he promised - cracking down on teachers unions, lowering taxes, and cutting education and health care budgets - but it hasn't led to a surge in support among Wisconsin voters.
Although Mr Walker survived a recall effort led by liberal constituencies, Dickerson notes that the governor admitted that part of that win could be attributed to voters rejecting the drawn-out recall process.
Dickerson adds that deep pockets, an aggressive campaign and the benefits of incumbency may help Mr Walker pull out another win, but "the polls seem pretty conclusive that it will only be through a grinding and close political battle where he relies deeply on his base".
"That's not how the hypothesis was supposed to work," he says.
Mr Walker's pitch to Republican presidential primary voters across the country is that he can give full-throated support to core conservative principles and win over a majority of the public. That's a much harder sell if it's not working in his home state.
Is Islamic State now a real state? - The territory of Islamic State (IS) "tends to be described as 'swaths'", writes the Atlantic's Kathy Gilsinan, but is the group now solidifying their self-proclaimed caliphate into a state?
IS has continued to win their battles, and with increased military success, they have acquired the infrastructure and resources needed to develop and defend their newly claimed territory, she says.
She argues that IS looks more like Afghanistan's Taliban-led government, which terrorised civilians and controlled "defined territory", than al-Qaeda, which did not.
She concludes that IS may not be a full-fledged state yet, but it appears to be heading that way.
A quiet cholera epidemic - In the shadow of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, a quiet cholera epidemic is growing in Ghana, with the death toll reaching more than 55 people, write the editors of the Ghana Chronicle.
"Given the degree of filth that often engulfs our homes, even at highbrow residential neighbourhoods, it is surprising that cholera outbreaks are periodic and not perennial," they write.
"What is appalling and humiliating, though, is the planlessness and impotence demonstrated by officialdom in tackling this current cholera incidence."
Behind the numbers on French IS support - A new poll by the state-run Russian news agency Rossiya Segodnya contends that 15% of French citizens hold a positive view of IS. According to Adam Taylor of the Washington Post, however, this statistic does not add up.
"There's little doubt that there is a disturbing amount of support for Islamic State and other extremist groups in Europe and beyond," he writes.
But for this statistic to be true, Taylor has found that it would require "the vast majority, if not all, of the Muslim population of France" to support IS.
"There's clearly a depressing, disturbing level of alienation among many Western Islamic communities," he writes, but propagating this incorrect statistic "could help to alienate the West's best hope in the fight against Islamic extremists - Western Muslims".
Turkey's changing of the guards - Turkey's ruling party recently nominated Ahmed Davutoglu to become the nation's prime minister, taking over from Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan will likely maintain a strong grip on the country when he steps into a presidential role. How will this affect Turkey's political landscape?
"Mr Davutoglu believes that Turkey should look to the past and embrace Islamic values and institutions," writes Marmara University Prof Behlul Ozkan for the New York Times.
Mr Ozkan also views that the new prime minister may not be the best to deal with Turkey's current border issues.
"Mr Davutoglu, who has argued that Turkey should create an Islamic Union by abolishing borders, seems to have no idea how to deal with the jihadis in Syria and Iraq, who have made Turkey's own borders as porous as Swiss cheese," he writes.
BBC Monitoring's quotes of the day
With the latest ceasefire in effect in Gaza, regional commentators are debating which side has prevailed in the conflict.
"Despite the cover from the air and hiding behind tanks, Israel lost more than 70 soldiers in ground skirmishes in which the Zionists were defeated. This means that Israel does not have a fighting army to wage ground battles but rather an army of mercenaries." - Commentary by Mahmud Za'luk in Palestinian al-Risalah.
"It is incomprehensible that Hamas has declared unprecedented victory. On the scale of gain and loss the results are not in their favour, unless they consider that their mere existence regardless of the heavy losses inflicted on the Palestinians, is a victory" - Salih al-Qallab in Jordan's al-Ra'y.
"The cease-fire agreed with Hamas leaves the Israeli public frustrated. The political echelon chose not to subdue Hamas militarily and was content with heavy pounding of their tunnel network and a massive aerial attack that hit the organization's infrastructure and caused great damage to the Gaza Strip... " - Commentary by former Shabak chief Yuval Diskin in Yedioth Aharonot.
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