Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Chaos On Bulls**t Molehill

Governor Scott Walker insisted for the longest time that he had zero tolerance for government employees doing campaign work while on the job, before the court-ordered release of more than 27,000 emails proved that claim false. The governor also repeatedly said he had no idea there was a secret email system in his county executive's office, until the emails showed he was prevaricating about that too.

Just the other day Walker said there is no secret email system in the governor's office like the one he had in Milwaukee County. Veteran journalist Bruce Murphy quickly cast doubt on that claim. Murphy has a source who was a close observer of the governor’s staff in the Capitol and who attended numerous meetings with them. The source told Murphy there was a system that sure looked like it was designed to enable staff to do political work on government time and evade public disclosure of such campaigning by using personal laptops and gmail accounts.

Now the governor's just refusing to answer any more questions. All of this is old news, he says.

To the national pundits and talking heads in D.C., all of this is definitely news but none of it is apparently sexy enough. In a time when they've grown so used to encountering what Jon Stewart calls "Bullshit Mountain" on the other side of the Potomac, apparently they are having a hard time seeing this whole Walker affair as anything more than a Bullshit Molehill.

It's this kind of thing that prompted the late politician and sociologist Daniel Patrick Moynihan to coin the phrase "defining deviancy down" to describe the tendency of societies to respond to destructive behaviors by lowering standards for what is permissible.

Not only are ethical standards in Wisconsin politics going the way of temperatures in the polar vortex, but now deviancy is in the eye of the beholder. Mountain or molehill, sexy or not, all those emails inspired the Beloit Daily News to observe "here’s how partisans view these things. If the guy on the other side does something like this, it’s a raging scandal and the rascal should be drummed out of office. But if the guy at the center of the mess is your guy, then your guy is a blameless victim of biased media and the evil opposition."

1 comment:

Fortunate One said...

Very well put, Mike. I was afraid from the outset that this would be minimized as "just politics as usual " and "what did you expect?" I also
suspected that it would receive very
little attention from the national
media. We can't let this die. We must hammer away at it as if it were Benghazi.