A wild week that was
Tuesday’s election finally brought a tenuous peace to Wisconsin. The trouble all started last year when thousands of people stormed Madison, Wis., to protest Gov. Scott Walker’s state government-employee-compensation reforms. When it became clear to the labor movement that Walker’s proposals struck at the heart of their ability to raise money, they went nuclear. Walker and his reforms had to go.
State and national labor unions joined the fight and the state descended into chaos. The capitol was occupied by public employees and union members from around the country. They banged drums, hooted and hollered, and generally brought state government to a standstill. (What’s with liberals and drums? What is it with that?)
Christian Schneider of National Review Online even noted that Madison’s Bartell Community Theater had a sold-out hit entitled “The Lamentable Tragedie of Scott Walker, Govnour of Wisconsin.” (The author wrote in what he called “Fakespearean” style, hence the old English spellings. The original title was “F*** You, Scott Walker.”) You just have to love the liberals in Madison.
“The denouement of the play,” according to Schneider, “occurs when Walker escapes the mob by climbing to the top of the capitol, only to be thrown to his death while the fool yells ‘Sic semper tyrannis!’ The play’s author, Doug Reed, claims he is a ‘committed pacifist,’ but says he had to stay true to the form; as he notes, ‘the title characters in Shakespeare’s tragedies never survive to the end of the play.’”
Late Tuesday evening, Scott Walker was not only very much alive but still governor of Wisconsin. He led Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett 53 to 46 percent with a few absentee ballots yet to be counted. He made the usual call for unity, saying his effort to reach out to Democrats would start out with a legislative picnic featuring beer and brats. Don’t know about Wisconsin Democrats but that would work for me.
Wisconsin Democrats are, naturally enough, deflated and disappointed. There is palpable anger at President Obama for what many think was tepid support at best. Labor is particularly upset with the Obama administration. No card check, no change in organizing rules, and now defeat in Wisconsin after spending millions.
Labor leaders remember all too clearly Mr. Obama’s pledge in the heat of the 2008 primary campaign: “If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself. I’ll walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States of America.” When the call came to put on those comfortable shoes, he opted instead for tweeting a three-sentence message of support. In short, Mr. Obama dropped Mayor Barrett and the Wisconsin public unions like a couple of cheap suits.
Liberal columnist Mickey Klaus wasn’t impressed. He wrote, “Obama has now decisively intervened in the race, with a tweet… He didn’t even use all 140 characters… It’s an effort so self-protective and wussy it may come to stand for the president’s ineffectuality.”
MSNBC didn’t let us down. The network has some trouble processing news favorable to Republicans and there are moments of high comedy. Mika Brzezinski was her doleful self Wednesday morning, but Ed Schultz won the comedy prize. After NBC News called the race for Walker (who was leading by 13 points at the moment), Ed chimed in: “OK, I think it’s awful close and there’s a lot of absentee ballots yet that are still out and it’s going to be very, very close down to the wire.” Then Ed wondered off to be sure the landing lights were on for Amelia Earhart. (Just kidding, he hasn’t done that for a couple of years.)
Bill Clinton dominated national politics last week. Roger Simon of Politico wrote: “Bill Clinton has to be the smartest guy in the room even when he’s not in the room. Clinton is not on Barrack Obama’s campaign staff, is not a trusted adviser and does not set Obama’s strategy. But Bill Clinton is pretty good at sabotaging Obama’s strategy.”
Simon is upset because Clinton in one short interview put a spike in Mr. Obama’s campaign wheel. Bill Clinton didn’t like the Obama ad that said Bane Capital had been “a vampire” that “sucked the blood out of us.” But, he didn’t just say he didn’t like the ad, in good Clinton style he elaborated: “I think he [Mitt Romney] had a good business career, and added that “a man who has been governor and had a sterling business career crosses the qualification threshold.”
The key here is “crosses the qualification threshold.” Remember, if you will, that in 1980 President Carter led Ronald Reagan by a few points until the debate in late October. In that debate Reagan, who had been characterized as a war-mongering dummy, appeared instead as a reasonable, informed and amiable chap. Carter was doomed. Reagan had crossed the qualification threshold and the people who wanted rid of Carter now had an alternative. I honestly don’t think Bill Clinton could have said anything more damaging, and his short statement can be used in Republican ads without editing or explanation.
Mr. Clinton tried to walk it back, of course, but on Tuesday he chipped in with his opinion that it would be unwise to raise taxes on the rich given the current condition of our economy. Mr. Obama is running against Bain Capital and for higher taxes on the rich. Good old Bill has now publicly nailed them both.
Mr. Obama is now getting a lesson in why he should respect his elders. In 2007 he called Reagan a transitional president and then explained why Bill Clinton wasn’t. In 2008 he played the race card on Hillary Clinton in South Carolina, or at least Bill Clinton thinks he did. Then his election challenged Clinton’s title of “first black president.” Too much to forget, too much to be forgiven.
Revenge, they say, is a dish best eaten cold. Bon Appétit, Mr. President.