Monday, January 05, 2009

Bad Cop, Worse Cop and Crazy Cop

The Wisconsin State Journal is using space on its editorial page to plead with the state GOP. The editorial asks them not to “isolate” themselves now that they are so deservedly out of the majority. State Republicans could probably heed any random advice at this point and do better for their constituents than they have in the last number of years. Perhaps they are simply in total disarray right now, but it appears that their early strategy is a weird twist on a classic one. Rather than play the old “good cop, bad cop” they seem to be implementing a “bad cop, worse cop and crazy cop” strategy.

First you have Senate Republican leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) putting out a press release today sounding the same loser note that we hear every year, “cut, cut, cut!” Given the tough circumstances, difficult decisions will surely have to be made, but Fitzgerald does not approach the situation with any new ideas, just more right wing talking points and narrow ideology. His only solution appears to be cutting important programs, many of which are even more important now, because more people are in need.

Two of Fitzgerald’s outrages are very telling and so is the fact that he lists them first. Naturally, both are related to very powerful special interests. He bemoans the proposed Hospital Tax even though it is supported by the hospitals themselves and will at the very least pay for itself. He also takes time to advocate for the interests of Big Oil in opposing a proposed tax on their obscene profits. If Fitzgerald were really concerned about the average taxpayer’s burden, he wouldn’t trample them in his rush protect the powerful from paying their fair share. Scott Fitzgerald appears to be playing the role of “bad cop” right out of the gate.

Conveniently filling in the “worse cop” role is Scott’s brother, Representative Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon). Just last week he commented to the Associated Press about the State’s budget challenge by saying, “I don't have to solve that problem. Obviously, that's the Democrats' problem." The Wisconsin State Journal was correct to point out his partisanship first approach to governing. This is how his party has managed all of the years that they have been in the majority, so it is certainly no surprise to see such a response from one of their key “leaders”. Unfortunately this kind of approach to such a challenging situation makes an already bad situation ten times worse.

Then you have the reliably “isolated” Senator Glenn Grothman chiming in by begging the federal government not to help the states. He says it as if he has a vested interest in total disaster for the People of Wisconsin. This is particularly galling because much of the situation that we find ourselves in is due to the market-tested failure of right wing policy. Now that the grown-ups are in charge, Glenn apparently doesn’t know how in the world to respond. Whatever his “reasoning,” his early reaction certainly fills the GOP role of “crazy cop.”

I don’t know if this is by design or by disorganized default, but the GOP reaction to governing is a disaster right out of the gate. That is not good for anyone, especially the hardworking people of the state who expect more from their elected officials.

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