The release of the approximately 28,000 e-mails relating to the John Doe investigation into Governor Walker's administration as Milwaukee County Executive had the potential to cause controversy, and to a degree, they did. The outcome of the release, however, may be somewhat unexpected: Walker's path to the presidency may have just gotten easier.
This may seem counterintutive considering that, not only are these e-mails relating to an investigation to an area of Walker's career, but because there were e-mails released that cast a not-so-positive light on Walker's team. What the e-mails did not show were any clear -- or clearly inferrable -- examples of illegal activity by Walker. In fact, the Governor was not the person forwarding any of those politically off-color e-mails or making any of those abhorrent comments about the constituents of Milwaukee. While clear that he comes across as being politically involved in other ways, he stays above the fray of the unseemly content.
How does this help Scott Walker for 2016? The national media's reaction to the story. Coming in the wake of the Chris Christie bridge scandal, this e-mail dump was seen by the national political press as being Walker's version of Christie's problem. Only thing is, once nothing in the e-mails showed Walker with any kind of obvious connection to criminal activity -- some talk about knowledge of the secret e-mail system, but otherwise mainly the unseemly chain e-mails -- the national press essentially declared that there was nothing on Walker. The original John Doe investigation, which could have been the fodder for national media investigations if and when Gov. Walker becomes a presidential front-runner, has now had its time in the spotlight, Walker seemingly came off as not so bad, and the story is now "old news." It's how the national media operates. In a way, this was a preliminary national vetting for 2016.
In fact, a national storyline seems to be developing praising Walker for his luck in avoiding any illegalities and his skill in managing political situations. Barring any new details from the current John Doe investigation or some other news items of which we are not aware, this gestating perspective on Walker may become the main underscore to Walker coverage in a presidential primary -- and, perhaps, even in a general election campaign.
This does NOT mean Scott Walker has a perfectly clear rout to the nomination. Other organizations -- the Mother Jones's of the world -- will continue to dig and may uncover more uncouth details, and this is before the inevitable rehashing of the toxic atmosphere fomented in 2011, along with his other policies that are simply too conservative to win on a national ticket against the likes of Hillary Clinton. Yet a major stumbling block may have been unwittingly removed two years before Scott Walker truly could enter the presidential campaign spotlight. His luck and skill may yet pay off in the end.