Yes and No and Maybe in Old Milwaukee

By on June 8, 2012

The fall-out from the recall election in Wisconsin has been chewed over by pundits on both sides of the aisles by now, and some on the side-lines. Neither side seems to have it exactly right. Yes, Scott Walker did survive the recall effort and did it rather handily by the numbers. Yes, the Senate seat did change hands giving the Democrats back control of the Senate there, pending a recount. Yes, Mayor Tom Barrett seemed in a big rush to concede to the Governor with voting still going on. But, No, he didn’t deserve to get slapped, though feelings were obviously running high. Maybe he just wanted to go home and go to bed. Even so, the contest was decided, whether he conceded or not. Who really cares about these calls anyway in the age of instant everything? Who wants to hear these formulaic speeches, come to think about it. The voters are the only ones needing to speak.

Yes, an obscene amount of money got spent. Over 63 million dollars. That buys a lot of band-aids. Following the Citizens United decision, it seems to be one dollar one vote these days, instead of one person one vote. Yes, the public is fairly pliant. Yes, the biggest spender often does prevail. Yes, probably some people voted against the recall not for Governor Walker because recalls are lousy politics. California rid itself of Grey Davis in 2003 but in the end Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn’t much of an improvement. He just had bigger biceps, and more extra-curricular activities. It will not happen again so easily in the future.

Yes, Labor was the big loser in this process. Yes, the White House needs to worry. They tried to play down the importance of the election for November. They tiptoed around the contest and looked foolish in the end. They did themselves no favors. Yes, it is possible a number of the Walker voters support the president but at this point what does that matter? We have five more months to go with many more dollars to spend.

The 'bull' was not just in the ring

Walker’s victory lap was fascinating. He was egotistical and fatuous one moment, self-critical and conciliatory the next. A real Jekyll-and-Hyde performance. I’m not sure what to expect from him next. Many reporters on the left geared up for a rebuke at the polls and looked stunned when it didn’t happen. Those on the right were equally unconvincing in their overly scripted spinning. I’m not certain the voters might not turn Walker out when he runs for reelection. I’m not sure they might send him back either. The next two years will be critical.

There is far too much opinion-izing and too little straight news reporting these days on the tube.  My recent experiences with British TV proved they remember better what journalism is all about. First report the facts and then give the opinion and inject the bull if you must. Not mix it all around like a stew before you serve it up hot and fast.

In the end, no one emerged with any glory. Certainly not Foster Friess nor Sheldon Adelson who bank-rolled this debacle. You want more tax breaks so you can do this? Certainly not the unions who soiled the selves in public starting the process in the first place. And not Chief Justice Roberts who by all accounts engineered the Citizens United decision behind the scenes. As judicial history, it’s right up there with Dred Scott for thick-headedness.

So, No, this was not a lesson in Jeffersonian Democracy. Yes, This was bad theater. And, Maybe, things will improve from here on in. And Maybe the politicos in both parties will come to their senses. Everyone should be back at the rewrites, not taking bows or spinning propaganda.

Tom Godfrey


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2 comments on “Yes and No and Maybe in Old Milwaukee

  1. Vannie on said:

    Your comments, as usual, are insightful and well said. For years attorneys struggling to bring a modicum of fairness to those least able to care for themselves were abused by those with money and power for “judicial activism.” Why is there not an out cry against the current judicial system and the attorneys supporting the causes of the Judges which are more judicial activism in the cause of supporting monied interests than this County has ever faced.

    • TGodfrey on said:

      Good question. Justice Roberts seems like the anti-Earl Warren. I am old enough to remember all those impeach Earl Warren billboards and bumper stickers. Time to do the same for Roberts after Citizens United decision, which increases the civil rights of multi-millionaires?

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