The Wisconsin recall election or “Things go better with Koch”

The right will be feeling vindicated after Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker won his recall election by 53%. The right on this side of the Atlantic will be feeling similarly smug in their belief in the power of laissez-faire capitalism. The people have decided that Walker was right, they’ll tell us. Now he can carry on slashing like Freddy Kruger on crank,  safe in the knowledge that he has a mandate from 53% of the electorate.

But something is rotten in the state of Wisconsin. There’s a lot of money sloshing around and it comes from out of the state. Much of it comes from hyper-rich right-wing donors like the Koch Brothers. But to read the Torygraph, you’d think that none of that mattered. For these people, all of whom are fully signed-up members to the Cult of the Invisible Hand, this was a sign. A sign of Romney’s impending victory in November. The cultists are even doing their victory jigs as I write this. I found this Media Matters article which puts things into perspective. I will quote a snippet here,

Right-wing media are arguing that Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s victory in the Wisconsin recall election was a victory for the grassroots over unions and progressives. But, due to Citizens United and a loophole in Wisconsin campaign finance laws, the progressive message was swamped by conservative special interest money.

Did you see the way he used the word “grassroots”? Yes, so did I.  It’s utterly meaningless within the context of this story and I will come back to that later.

Yesterday, 5 Torygraph bloggers chipped in with their congratulations. This blog from James “I don’t read peer-reviewed research” Delingpole is rather typical. He opens with,

From my poolside in Puglia I was going to do you an amusing post about The Archers…

Oh? Why didn’t you then?

That’s because I want instead to draw your attention to two important stories from the US which, I suspect, will have far greater impact on the world than even Nigel Pargeter’s murder (by politically correct BBC harridans) ever did. I refer to Governor Scott Walker’s victory in Wisconsin  and an equally important but perhaps less well-publicised victory won in the Alabama house and senate over the UN’s malign and insidious Agenda 21.

He never misses an opportunity to tell us that the BBC is “politically correct” or “left-wing”. The guy’s a loon. Then he says,

Walker’s victory has been thoroughly and expertly analysed by my estimable colleague Tim Stanley. For the benefit of those readers who a) find US politics remote, weird or dull and/or b) think Walker was one of the Brothers responsible for The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Any More before going a bit weird on his solo albums, I’d just like to reiterate that this is a story of significance to all of us.

What wit. I think the less time I spend on Delingtroll’s blog, the better. So I had a look at “estimable” Tim Stanley’s blog.  Stanley is described as “Pat Buchanan’s biographer”. Is that really something to boast about?

Stanley’s gripping headline reads “As the Wisconsin Tea Party gives Obama a bloody nose, Bill Clinton stabs him in the back”. Hyperbole and junk. Let’s read on,

Tuesday night saw a double whammy rejection of Obamanomics – once by the voters and once by former President Bill Clinton. Given a choice, the people of Wisconsin took Republican fiscalism over Democratic populism in a recall vote that let Tea Party favourite Scott Walker keep his state’s governorship. Incredibly, Bill Clinton – the man the White House sent to represent the President during the election – compounded the result by admitting that the country was in a recession and by urging Congress to extend the Bush tax cuts. That makes him the most senior liberal in the nation to cast doubt on Obama’s economic strategy. The people of Wisconsin are trending towards Romneynomics in 2012. So too, it would seem, is Hillary Clinton’s husband.

Stanley fails to grasp one essential: Walker had amassed a huge war chest of $18m since he took office. Herr Doktor also seems to think that the people of Wisconsin are happy to have their collective throat cut to ‘save’ the economy. It’s absurd.  Many voters weren’t happy with the recall vote in the first place, believing it to be unnecessary. The Doctor takes care not to mention this wee factlet. Stanley doesn’t mention the out-of-state donors who contributed $ millions on smear campaigns and outright emotional blackmail. Instead, he says,

But when you factor in the huge amount of Leftwing fervour pouring into the state, the usual rumours of Democratic fraud (turnout in one district was projected to be 119 percent) and the fact that this isn’t a solid Republican state like Alabama, and the tally starts to look healthy. Crucially, the administration’s class war language failed to mobilise a majority in a state that went strongly for Obama in 2008.

It’s a common charge on the part of the right in the US and in this country, to allege that their opponents are guilty of electoral fraud. If one smear doesn’t work, then try another and maybe it will stick. Stanley also seems to think, like so many of his fellow travellers, that Wisconsin is going to swing it for Romney come November’s election.

But did Clinton really “stab” Obama in the back?

So campaigning in Wisconsin was left to Bill Clinton, who is fast becoming a fixture of the 2012 campaign. Apparently paid appearances at the opening of an envelope are down this year.

I have looked over and over at Stanley’s blog and nowhere does he elucidate on this point. Instead he tells us,

The problem is that while Wisconsin was fought between local personalities, it was over issues with national salience. In the last 18 months, Wisconsin has been a laboratory for both Tea Party economic revanchism and the Democratic Party’s fight back. Walker’s platform is pure conservatism: he defunded the unions, slashed public sector spending, cut business and property taxes, and his accountants project a balanced budget. The economic outcome has been mixed: a perplexing blend of low unemployment and persistent job loss.

Pure praise-song. I can only imagine what his biography of Pat Buchanan reads like. He continues,

On the other hand, everything the local Democrats did in response has been echoed by the message of the Obama 2012 campaign. Special interest groups and unions were mobilised, women were reminded of the Republican war on reproductive rights, and class solidarity was constantly invoked. Barrett vs Walker looked a lot like Obama vs Romney.

Notice how he refers to “special interest groups” in relation to the Democratic challenger. It’s as if to say that the Republicans are free of such interests. Nothing could be further from the truth. But the truth isn’t something that bothers Stanley. Unions are bad. Women are bad. Class solidarity is bad.  Never mind that Clinton is gaffe-prone and his presidency shored up neoliberalism by offering massive tax cuts for the wealthy. Stanley, like so many right-wing critics of Obama, rely on codewords to express their unsavoury, but nonetheless, hidden discourses: Obama is “incompetent”, an “amateur”; “he doesn’t know how to run the economy”. Tell me this Doc, which president in the postwar history of the US has run the economy in the way you would like to see it? Stupid question, really. But Reagan actually increased the national debt as well as the deficit. Oops!

Stanley believes, like his stablemates, that Walker’s survival spells the end of Obama’s time in the White House. If that’s what he thinks, then perhaps he should read this article from the Christian Science Monitor. I shall quote a little here,

President Obama got some good news in the Wisconsin recall election, even as the Democrats failed to oust Republican Gov. Scott Walker: The president polled ahead of Mitt Romney by a wide margin – 51 percent to 44 percent, according to the exit poll conducted by Edison Research.

The recall election was a colossal mistake on the part of Wisconsin Democrats, who thought that this would make Walker disappear.  It didn’t. Instead, he’s been given a free hand to do as he wants. But the right in this country and in the US are fooling themselves that this is some sort of precursor to the main event. Wisconsin has voted for the Democrat candidate in every presidential election since 1988.

The right-wing media have been quick to point out that this was a grassroots victory. But they are deluding themselves and lying to the voting public. The ‘grassroots’ the US right often refers to is top-down rather than the other way around. Therefore real victor in the recall election was money. The money of special interests and corporate America.  The kind of money that buys votes. Stanley and Delingpole are too dumb or too dishonest to see this. Are you surprised? No, neither am I.

By the way, I’m not an Obama fan. In my mind, he’s another mad bomber like the presidents before him.

UPDATE: 7/6/12 @1736

Doc Stanley has spat out this postscript to his earlier blog. Here’s an excerpt.

You have to admire the optimism of the American Left. After Republican Scott Walker pulled off a sizeable victory in the crucial Wisconsin recall, they came out with a counter narrative that would shame Baron von Munchausen. Not only was Wisconsin not about Obama, but defeat actually makes him stronger. As Lawrence O’Donnell put it on MSNBC, “Tonight, the really big winner in the Wisconsin recall election is … Barack Obama.” What will O’Donnell say if Romney wins in November? “Tonight, the really big winner in the presidential election is … Barack Obama.” Because it’s the taking part that counts.

Exactly, the operative word here is “if” Romney wins and he won’t. It seems to me that Herr Doktor hasn’t seen the polls.



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