Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011.

Painting and Corners in Wisconsin

Obama Administration

Right now, you can find people on both sides of the Wisconsin public employee union impasse who declare the other side has painted itself into a corner. And that’s probably true, although I would argue that it was Gov. Scott who provided most of the paint and determined where the corners were. In any event, it probably is the case that whoever blinks now will be Public Enemy Number One to somebody.

The question is, who has got the least to lose from blinking?

According to a poll cited by Nate Silver — who also explains why Rasmussen polls should be ignored henceforth — a slight majority of Wisconsin residents support the public workers union over Gov. Walker. They’re not happy with the Democrats, either, but they don’t want the union busted.

So, I would argue that any Republicans in the state legislature whose constituents are mostly pro-union have the least to lose by coming up with a workable compromise. Of course, it’s also true that one of the exiled Senate Democrats whose constituents are mostly anti-union (they’re elected from senatorial districts, Wikipedia says) would have some strong incentive to blink, also.

However, the guy with the most to lose might be Gov. Walker. If he succeeds in busting the unions, he will immediately become the Right’s fair-haired darling and, I predict, catapulted into becoming a serious contender for the 2012 presidential nomination.

But if he blinks, to the teabaggers he would be persona non grata from then on. So yeah, there’s lots of painting-themselves-into-corners going on in Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, the New York Times is running an article by A. G. Sulzberger, of the New York Times-owning Sulzbergers, that suggests union workers in Wisconsin support Gov. Walker. But if you read the article, what you see are a few people — only one of whom is a union member — who are unemployed or under-employed expressing resentment of public employee salaries and benefits.

Again, instead of anger at the failure of the private sector to sustain economic growth and good jobs, they’re conditioned to resent people who still have good jobs. This tells us that the one rousing success story in the U.S. is about rightie propaganda.

The New York Times today is virtually roiling with the Wisconsin issue. Eric Lipton writes about the role the Koch brothers’ money is playing in Wisconsin, for example.

Naturally, David Brooks has a column actually headlined “Make Everybody Hurt,” in which he lauds Gov. Walker and other “debt fighters” as “founding fathers of austerity.” Unreal.

On the other hand, Bob Herbert talks about the people who really are hurting, which is just about everyone who isn’t being interviewed on Fox News these days. Herbert writes,

The true extent of the economic devastation, and the enormous size of that portion of the population that is being left behind, has not yet been properly acknowledged. What is being allowed to happen to those being pushed out or left out of the American mainstream is the most important and potentially most dangerous issue facing the country.

I don’t think “make everybody hurt” is the proper response to that issue. And you’ll notice that most of the people, like David Brooks, who are extolling the virtues of “hurting” don’t seem to be hurting themselves.

This is a dangerous issue, and it’s a dangerous game the puppet masters are playing. Unfortunately, too many of the peasants suffer Stockholm Syndrome and would rather defend Marie Antoinette than storm the Bastille.

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