Wisconsin is not ready to be like Willie Stark’s Louisiana

In the classic 1949 film All the King’s Men, Broderick Crawford’s character Willie Stark begins his political journey in a way that will soon seem very familiar to all of us in the Badger State. He was a fake candidate for office, a patsy for the corrupt Governor.  I always loved that old gem of a film, now so tired in its grainy black and white that it was redone with Sean Penn a couple years ago.  I especially loved the unbridled enthusiasm of Willie Stark as he condemns those who used him as a fake candidate:

I’m the hick they were gonna use to split the hick vote. But I’m standing right here now on my hind legs! Even a dog can learn to do that. Are you standing on your hind legs? Have you learned to do that yet?

So, here we are headed to recalls of eight Republican state Senators!   Praise the Pasta Gods!  But we’re going to get some fake candidates, because the powers that be in Republican Wisconsin don’t see any ethical problem running a fake candidate.  Just check out Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald’s words, from the Journal Sentinel

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald fully endorsed the idea Tuesday of fielding fake Democrats in recall elections against Republicans in an effort to delay the general elections.”It gives us another month to campaign,” said the Republican from Juneau.

Recall elections for six Republican senators are scheduled for July 12. If there are multiple candidates from the same party in any of those elections, the July 12 election becomes a primary election and a general recall election will be scheduled for Aug. 9.

Fitzgerald said Republicans would be recruited to run as Democrats — likely in all six races — so that the elections would be pushed back a month. He said he was persuaded by campaign staff that it was a good idea and consulted with state election officials to make sure it was allowed.

Sure, he checked to see if the tactic of running fake candidates was allowed.  The problem is the ethics.  Even Willie Stark knew running as a fake candidate was unethical, and he turned out to be one of the most unethical political characters in fiction and film.  But Fitzpatrick and Walker?  Not much moral compass left.  And the first fake candidate has checked in

Oh, you say they still support police and firefighters?  (Who else would they get to do their spying on protestors in Walkerville?)  Well, it turns out the ethical lapses extend to the Republican attitude towards firefighters and police, too.  Remember the police and firefighters were exempted from the antiunion legislation cooked up by Scott Walker and the Fitzgerald brothers.  I always thought that was an odd thing.  Now we know, because of a slip from Republican State Representative Chris Kapenga, that some Republicans were bought.  From the Journal Sentinel:

“We have pushed for police and fire to be included with all other public employees,” said the Delafield Republican. “Bottom line is the unions have bought out several people and we can not get it put through. It has been very frustrating.”

As the Journal Sentinel notes, that’s strong language.  That’s an accusation of bribery, which is still against the law until one of the Fitzgeralds includes something in some unrelated bill.  Mr. Kapenga should be asked some serious questions by the Wisconsin Attorney General.  Shoot, the police and firefighters are set with complete denials. 

“I’m flabbergasted by it,” said Mike Crivello, head of the Milwaukee cops union. “Certainly, we do not have the power or authority — and certainly not the financial resources — to buy anybody off. Nor would we ever.”

After the Attorney General is finished questioning Mr. Kapenga and finding out who exactly he thinks was “bought,” perhaps he should question Fitzgerald and Walker about who did the buying.  I’m sure they’ll deny, deny, deny.  That’s the way of Republican “ethics” nowadays, after all.  Fake candidates, bought politicans. . . it all seems so tawdry, like a 40’s melodrama.


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7 thoughts on “Wisconsin is not ready to be like Willie Stark’s Louisiana

  1. I should also note that it’s refreshing to see a Republican from the legislature being honest about how the fire and police unions came to be exempted from the changes to collective bargaining, health care costs, and pension payments that will affect all other public employees.

  2. Thanks guys. I find the old blogging juices flowing quite well after the long layoff, and even got up this morning ready to go. Alas, I’m solidifying a contact and asking permission about a picture first, and the boy is about to wake up, so nothing until naptime this afternoon. I’m stoked!

  3. You do a disservice to Willie Stark who, as the quote shows, was busting to get beyond his fake start and engage in real class politics of the kind Louisiana had never seen (going by the book here rather than the movies). He was more than willing to practice the corrupt politics endemic in his state, but a large part of his project was to turn the state upside down on behalf of the people. His model Huey Long insisted on free textbooks for all kids, it was one of his first big initiatives (even the black ones, OMG).

    No, this is infinitely worse – they are trying to turn us into pre Willie / Huey Louisiana, crushing education and all peoples’ movements and at the same time trashing the admirable good-government and openness ethic that has marked the state’s civic life. If these bums prevail, Louisiana will complain about being called the Wisconsin of the South.

  4. Mike, I am disappointed that there is no “like” feature here. . . 😉

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