Friday, June 08, 2007

Green Goes to Africa


Those held breathless since November can now finally exhale upon news of the near-term political future of last year’s GOP gubernatorial wanna-be/won’t-be. Yes, your prayers have been answered: Mark Green is going to Africa.

No deed or perceived sacrifice goes unrewarded in the Republican circle of cronyistic backrubs and post-political payoffs. After all, Republicans are always whining about how much they sacrifice by going into government "service", since they could always make more money raping-and-pillaging in the private sector. After he played the part of President back in the ‘80s, Ronald Reagan and his "Mommy" were paid for his efforts by the "gift" of a $3 million ranch from unnamed wealthy contributors. No doubt Junior Bush will get his after he hits the road – and not a moment too soon – in 2009. Adjusting for inflation, well, I hear the Neverland Ranch is available.

But Junior was a failure, you say. And how. But, despite the revisionist bullshit of recent years by those who know better, Reagan wasn’t much better. You always get the sense of pre-arrangement in these matters. "A deal is a deal," my contracts professor would say. "You pays your money and you takes your chances."

For the, er, lesser lights of the Republican would-be Revolution, the reward sometimes depends on availability and, more important, who is (still) in power. Back in the glory days, the Bushies slipped long-time Wisconsin GOP party chair Rich Gruber into a cushy ambassadorship. Now, with their power in shambles and time running out, they looked around for some way to reward that Green guy who ran that lousy campaign in Wisconsin – thumped convincingly, even with all that help they gave him by going after poor Georgia Thompson – and found the need for Green’s small talents in Tanzania.

It’s hard to tell what Green brings to the project, if there is such a thing, in the small, no doubt needy African country. Sure, he spent time in Africa while a young sprout as a teacher in Kenya with a noble project out of Harvard. Perhaps he can help Bush bring his false dream of abstinence to the fight against AIDS. If there are criminal elements in the government or on the streets, he could surely help relate, having worked hand-in-glove with remarkably-still-free convicted felon Scooter Jensen while in the statehouse and with Tom Delay and Mark Foley after being sent up to the big leagues. If memory serves, he even had an aide close to Jack Abramoff – this is a guy who knows how to get things done, the law be damned.

But ambassadorships to politically-irrelevant countries are the last vestige of an ancient spoils system, a harmless resume-padding device for those who have run for office, contributed or happened be old college frat buddies of presidents – accidental, appointed or otherwise. I doubt Green will spend much of his brief tenure in-country, fixing visa problems by day, beach-walking by night (with security detail, I assume). You wouldn’t want something like this to get in the way of his rain-making legal work or what I assume will be a continued period of post-election whining about that $468,000 he eventually agreed he couldn’t spend on his would-have-failed-anyway campaign. It’s a dead issue, but it’s all he’s got.

UPDATE: The Journal Sentinel weighs in on Green's political payoff this morning as a note in the insipid "Laurels and Laments" section that it runs on its Saturday editorial page (Usual sample: "We saw this week that the traffic lights on Wisconsin Ave. were adjusted to allow a better flow from east to west. This is the kind of bold action that makes our city a great place in which to live.") Apparently, the perk does not merit a whole editiorial of its own. However, Green gets a few props he hardly deserves: "He is generally possessed of uncommon good sense and has superb people skills," claims the J-S.

Oh, really? "Uncommon good sense"? You mean like trying to transfer his complete federal campaign fund, knowing it was against state law, filing a frivilous lawsuit just to cover his ass and ultimately agreeing that the Elections Board got it right, and then still whining about it? You mean like that? You mean like opposing stem cell research? Like proposing a move of the entire state Department of Workforce Development to Milwaukee? Like being Junior Bush's lapdog while he was in Congress? Uncommon, maybe? But uncommon good sense? Quite the opposite.

"Superb people skills"? "Green walked away from reporters pressing him for details on just how he thinks he would fix the state budget deficit." Yep, Mr. Common Man, alright. Superb skill with his buddies like Felon Scooter Jensen, Mark Foley or Tom Delay, maybe. For what that's worth.

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