Monday, December 20, 2010

Here It Comes, Wisconsin: Governing By Villainification

Not, that's not a misspelling.

And I didn't mean "vilification." though we will hear plenty of that when Scott Walker takes office as Governor of Wisconsin in two weeks and the GOP moves into the post January 3rd phase of Operation Blame Game.

I said Villainification, because Walker and his legislative lieutenants will repeatedly run down their villains' roll call - - Gov. Jim Doyle, Democrats, unions, liberals, President Barack Obama, the UW system, the City of Madison, the UW System, graspy minorities, the entire federal guvmint, regulators and regulations of every imaginable type and stripe, etc., ad nauseum, et al - - to paper over and otherwise rationalize away setbacks, simple mistakes or basic powerlessness when unpredictable events produce unpleasant or unplanned consequences.

Walker was a villainophile par excellence during his eight-plus years as Milwaukee County Executive, serving up, when needed - - Tom Ament - - the gift that kept on giving - - along with Lee Holloway, County Government in toto, unions, John Norquist, Tom Barrett, Jim Doyle, faded-from-memory contractors, stimulus dollars too juicy to turn down, various campaign workers, and any other scapegoat to deflect responsibility for his bad budgets, failed appointments, revenue shortfalls, inter-governmental glitches, service scandals, acts of God, or God knows what.

Then after dabbing a little lipstick on the pigs he'd taken to market - - away he'd go, motorcycling, Twittering and evading any responsibility for snoozing at the switch and succumbing to disinterest while preferring to running for Governor.

And thereby leaving Milwaukee County in worse shape than he'd found it.

Did you ever hear him utter the equivalent of "my bad?"

After the facade collapse at O'Donnell Park this summer that killed a 15-year-old boy, it was revealed that Milwaukee County had no system in place to regularly inspect County facilities.

What was Walker's response, given that he had been County Executive for more than eight years?

He made it a two-fer (I'll highlight them so you don't miss 'em):

"Walker said Tuesday that his administration had inherited the current inspection system and had started to take steps to improve it even before the tragic accident at the O'Donnell Park parking facility last June. He also said he had suggested one change in a prior budget that was rejected by the County Board."
Full story here.

Hauling out the villains and shifting blame their way is an old conservative talk radio trick.

The talkers regularly tee up their usual suspects (I'll spare you the derogatory nicknames): Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid or John Norquist or the Clintons or Jim Doyle - - you hear the squawking on the AM dial all the live long day - - to gin up the audience...heat up the ratings...inflate the talkers' sense of self-importance - -  regardless of how synthetic or mythological or just plain false is the villain's connection to real world cause-and-effect.

Take the discredited allegations about "voter fraud" - - here the villains were ACORN and a few pathetic petty criminals who filled in fraudulent voter paperwork, got caught and were rightly punished, but who were not master-minding a grand conspiracy stealing elections.

Or consider the tiresome, talk-radio red herring that Wisconsin has lost jobs because it's a "tax hell, but compare that phony rhetoric, say, to the real job losses resulting from Walker's imperious cancellation - - he called it a "victory" - -  of the federally-funded Madison-Milwaukee train.

Talk about a hellish move: Walker cost Wisconsin a train assembly plant in Milwaukee, and at least 4,700 rail construction and additional white and blue-collar positions.

Or think about the Right's big lie about the "government's takeover of health care," an effective sound bite for sure - - and also an issue ironically relevant for Tea Party and other conservative office-takers who will soon delight in elite, taxpayer-subsidized-and-government-provided-public-employee health care plans.

Managing by blame-shifting was Walker's M.O around here, but it got old and explains why he got only 38% of the gubernatorial vote in Milwaukee County.

Some finger-pointing is inevitable after a tumultuous election, but Walker, his talk radio handlers and press release driven legislator allies have little subtlety in their playbooks and probably won't want to toss the villainification template.

Without it, the work would get harder and the finger of responsibility point only to you.

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