Embattled governor says, look over there!’
Or to put it somewhat less philosophically: Can you believe Scott Walker is actually saying what he’s saying?! And for that matter: Isn’t he even vaguely embarrassed to be saying what he’s saying?
To those last questions, “No,” and “Of course not.”
To the truckloads-of-self-righteousness question, “Who knows?” But Scott Walker is definitely overstocked.
How else to explain the latest rhetorical flailings from here in the Badger State? Stubborn Scott won’t give in, not even a little. And Stubborn Scott says the people of Wisconsin still support him.
It’s those outside agitators.
That’s who’s causing all this trouble: outside agitators.
“Paid, professional protesters—trying to influence the debate,” the governor calls them. Except for when he’s simply calling them “union bosses.”
It’s older than anything the Packers have in their playbook. Everybody from George Wallace decades ago to Moammar Gadhafi just last week has used it when the pressure starts to build.
“It’s People from Somewhere Else! Are you gonna let them tell us what to do?”
And so on.
At which point the good people are Tuscaloosa or Tripoli or Thiensville are supposed to rear up and cry “Heck, no!” They’re supposed to throw the agitators out and go right back to doing whatever it was they were doing before all the cameras arrived.
Good luck with that.
Not that Stubborn Scott isn’t persistent. He’s been trying to work this same old line for weeks. Just days after the protest began, in fact, as people started streaming onto the Capitol grounds by the thousands, he was already at it.
“As more and more protesters come in from Nevada, Chicago and elsewhere,” he declared, “I am not going to allow their voices to overwhelm the voices of the millions of taxpayers from across the state who think we’re doing the right thing.”
He was talking in code. Wisconsinites have a love/hate, country-mouse/city-mouse relationship with Chicago. Love those tourist dollars, hate having to depend on them. Love their exotic restaurants, hate their toll plazas. Also hate their Bears. And their Cubs. And…
Did I mention the Mob? I’m just guessing here, but why else do you pair up “Chicago” with “Nevada,” except to plant an image of knuckle-draggers in fedoras—all carrying their union cards, of course.
After all, he could have mentioned protesters from “Philadelphia” and “Indiana,” or from “Cleveland” and “Missouri”—but none of those would have had quite the resonance with the residents. “Chicago” and “Nevada,” on the other hand—now you’re talking. Now you’re talking thugs.
But the main thing, the key point, is to keep insisting that the protesters are Not from Here—which tactic he as much as admitted in the famous prank call from the guy pretending to be David Koch, the governor’s industrial-strength-billionaire piggybank.
Now, there’s the small but inconvenient fact that the real Mr. Koch is based in Wichita, which is, technically speaking, not in Wisconsin either. (A sliver of the Koch brothers’ holdings are located here, but the brothers themselves? Definitely not.) There’s the further inconvenient fact that the governor was asking the-man-who-would-be-Koch to weigh in on this union-busting fight, to run TV ads designed to shore up the governor’s fellow Republicans in the state Legislature.
Leave aside the whiff of law-breaking—an “independent” third-party expenditure isn’t “independent” if the governor is the one suggesting it—and you still wind up scratching your head in amazement. Why isn’t the governor recoiling at the very idea of outside forces—Kansans!—interfering in this Wisconsin fight, the same way he recoils at all those “Chicagoans” and “Nevadans”?
Guess what? Scott Walker doesn’t actually have a problem with outsiders “trying to influence the debate.”
As long as it’s his side of outside.
Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.