It is hardly uncommon, however, for people running for office to have messy pasts. And in theory, someone could be an effective senator while, like Walker, questioning the theory of evolution: “At one time, science said man came from apes, did it not?” he asked in March. “If that is true, why are there still apes? Think about it.” Or even while, as he did two years ago, offering the take that there existed a “dry mist” that “will kill any Covid on your body” that “they don’t want to talk about.”

The problem with Walker is how glaringly unfit he is for public office apart from all that.

Asked whether he would have voted for President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill, Walker objected that it was “totally unfair” to expect him to answer the question because he hadn’t yet seen “all the facts,” apparently unaware that one would expect him to have formed an opinion via, well, following the news. Asked, on the day of the Uvalde massacre, about his position on new gun laws, Walker seemed unclear that candidates are expected to at least fake a basic familiarity with the issues, responding, “What I like to do is see it and everything and stuff.”

Days later on Fox News, he went into a bit more detail in a verbal bouillabaisse that almost rose to the level of performance art, saying:

You know, Cain killed Abel. You know, and that’s a problem that we have. And I said, what we need to do is look into how we can stop those things. You know, you talked about doing a disinformation, what about getting a department that can look at young men that’s looking at women, that’s looking at their social media? What about doing that, looking into things like that, and we can stop that that way?

This isn’t a mere matter of verbal dexterity. He’s not just a political neophyte getting his sea legs as a public speaker — in recent months, we’ve watched Eric Adams, the New York City mayor, going through that. Walker isn’t just gaffe-prone, as Biden has been throughout his career. He isn’t someone underqualified and swivel-tongued, like the former governor and current congressional candidate Sarah Palin, who still gives the impression of someone who could have learned on the job. Walker doesn’t appear to have the slightest clue about, or interest in, matters of state, and gives precious little indication that this would change.

Here’s where I’m supposed to write something like, “Walker makes Donald Trump look like Benjamin Disraeli by comparison.” But it’s more that Trump, who has endorsed Walker, is pretty much as clueless. Trump’s speeches are riveting — at least to his devotees — and certainly more practiced, but given how recently we’ve seen what happens when someone who would lose an argument with a cloud is placed in a position of grave responsibility, it’s rather grievous to see Republicans now do this with Walker.




This story originally Appeared on Nytimes.com