I don't know about you, but I always thought that the concept of "guilt by association" has gotten a bad rap. I think you can judge a person -- certainly a politician -- by who they choose to hang out with and use to advance their political careers. In fact, as secretive and unknown as some of these people are, sometimes that's all you have.
Take right-wing darling Rep. Paul Ryan from Janesville. Ryan has been a rising star in the Republican galaxy for some time now, if only because he is one of the shrinking party's' few congressional members who can appear on TV without triggering the gag reflex. At least that's what I hear from others. I still have throat trouble when I see his slick head of hair and boyish smirk appear on yet another talk show, but then I have always had trouble laughing and swallowing at the same time. If you want a good laugh, check out his recitation of the GOP's health care "plan" to maintain the status quo. It's a riot.
Anyway, in this morning's paper it is reported that Ryan has caught some flack from his constituents for attending an event presented by the Federation for American Immigration Reform. FAIR has been called out by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its racist leaders and funding sources, but continues to be one of the many questionable places where Republicans like Ryan go to soak up attention and contributions. You might even feel sorry for GOP glory-hounds like Ryan who have to patronize the well-funded rapid-right activists in Washington to gain street-cred with their dwindling base. I mean, you can't swing a stick in a room full of those people without hitting someone who is racist, homophobic, anti-feminist or some form of offensive.
For his part, Ryan blamed his FAIR appearance on a radio talk show host in St. Louis. It's an interesting defense. I suppose if Charlie Sykes invited Ryan to some other slimy greed-fest with a cast of unsavory charactors -- Citizens for Responsible Government comes to mind -- Ryan would go and blame it on the radio guy if somebody with any sense found out about it. This is the way it works with Republicans these days, I guess, getting jerked around on a chain by wingnut radio hosts to take full advantage of the hours of free political advertising mainstream radio currently provides the GOP.
We should take the "guilt by association" meme and move it to its next logical step. It seems incompetent part-time Milwaukee County Executive and full-time gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker has a free pass to call in to any right-wing radio show in the state any time to promote his candidacy. It happens on almost a daily basis, on shows large and small.
If the wingnuts are going to get that involved in the campaign, they should be held up to scrutiny themselves, and Walker should be held to account for the company he keeps. Hey, Scott Walker -- when you spent a half-hour getting stroked by Mark Belling, did you sit around with him during the breaks and tell wetback jokes and talk about how to prevent obnoxious minorities from creating another Crimeville? Tell us, Scott, do you agree with Sykes that black leaders like Al Shaprton should be referred to as "pimps" and that Lee Holloway is a "thug"? All of these are fair questions, I think. And, if the answer is "no" to each, what are you doing hanging around people like that?
Actually, the problem may be for the radio squawkers hanging around with Walker. Do they really want to be associated with someone who would soak up all these in-kind political contributions from your radio stations without reporting it on his campaign forms?