Friday, February 25, 2011

EXTRA: Is anybody really surprised?

Scott Walker, the Wisconsin governor who has engaged in heavily partisan political tactics to try to turn union-busting measures into state law, should have taken a lesson in hard-ball politics from our soon-to-be former mayor, Richard M. Daley.
WALKER: A political amateur, compared to Daley

Walker got a political victory in the early hours of Friday when the Wisconsin state Assembly’s Republican leadership cut off what had become nearly three full days of debate meant to stall the issue, and forced a sudden vote.

IT WAS LITERALLY so quick (and so staged by the GOP leadership) that roughly two-thirds of the Democratic legislative opposition didn’t realize a vote was being taken until it was over – and too late for them to express their opposition.

So now Walker’s desire to do away with collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin (the oldest trick, blame the financial problems on the workers) has at least one stamp of legislative approval. Whether it can get the approval of the Wisconsin state Senate is another – since many of the Democratic members there remain out-of-state, and the hard-core partisan nature of the Assembly vote is bound to harden them.

Which may be where Walker made his mistake. He had his people play their “drop-dead” card too early. He should have learned from the example of Daley.

Remember Meigs Field?

I DO. ON March 31, 2003, we all woke up to the sight of the runways of Meigs having been bulldozed – with big gouges in the form of giant “X’s” ground into the runway pavement so that it would have been dangerous for any airplane to try to land at the one-time air strip with proximity to downtown Chicago.

In fact, the feeling I experienced upon waking up Friday and learning of the middle-of-the-night antics of the Assembly in Madison, Wis., was similar to the feeling I felt when Daley just took action to do away with Meigs – the air strip he had wanted to do away with for years but had run into repeated political opposition.

Outgoing Mayor Richard M. Daley had his own middle-of-the-night political antics that destroyed the former Meigs Field, seen here in this portrayal of the airstrip in the Flight Simulator 2004 game.

The one difference is that with Daley, his action made it impossible for anyone to seriously talk about maintaining Meigs – unless they were willing to come up with the cash necessary to rebuild what he bulldozed.

Walker’s minions pulled their “drop-dead” move when the process was still incomplete.

I HONESTLY BELIEVE that many of those Democratic members of the Wisconsin state Senate are reaching the point where they are tired, homesick, and wondering if their protest act of staying out of state to keep their chamber of the Legislature shuttered (and incapable of acting) was a futile gesture.

The state Assembly’s act may give them the jolt they needed to make them hunker down and stay away indefinitely.

It also ensures that Walker’s rhetoric about all of this hard-core partisanship being necessary to balance the state’s budget will be seen for the cheap talk that it is, and will be among the list of partisan antics that voters will have to contemplate come the 2012 election cycle.

This is going to reflect badly upon the GOP everywhere, particularly since another part of Walker’s rhetoric is to require state employees to pay a larger share of their health insurance benefits – which the unions have said they’re willing to do if the talk of dropping collective bargaining rights disappears.

 TO LISTEN TO the “Tea Party types” who were a significant part of the coalition that got Walker elected governor in last year’s election cycle, Barack Obama is the president who is going to destroy our nation with such schemes as trying to ensure that as many people as possible have something resembling health insurance.
WALKER: Of Illinois

We also have one of their “preferred” politicians thinking that cuts in health insurance benefits are the way to fix a budget hole. In fact, many businesses probably wish they could do away with insurance for their employees to save money.

Which means we’d better hope that Obama prevails on his issue – otherwise we’re going to have a whole lot more uninsured or under-insured individuals in our society.

Thanks, Gov. Walker. You have ensured that political people will remember you for being as erratic and absurd a character as Illinoisans remember our own Gov. Walker (as in Dan) from several decades ago.

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