Saturday, September 11, 2010
David Clarke: Under The Bridge
In a sudden spurt of civic concern, Clarke supposedly dashed off a letter this past Thursday to the secretary of the state DOT, putting on his engineer hat and suggesting that the state might want to put up suicide-prevention barriers when it repaired the crumbling icon of the Milwaukee skyline.
The letter itself is a six-page marvel of intricate research, complete with a chart showing the 16 "successful" jumps off the Hoan since 2001 (why he didn't just say "it's about two a year"...well, not nearly as impressive). There are even footnotes relating to its deep thoughts about the psychological aspects of suicide-by-jumping and the efforts of other cities to deal with the scourge of jumpers.
But the transparently political essence of the letter didn't stop the Clarke defenders at the Journal Sentinel and local TV stations from treating it like an oh-so-serious and sincere concern by the sheriff. Not only did the J-S cheerfully front-page the PR stunt; there was Clarke standing under the bridge on all the TV news shows on the Friday before the election, using his incumbency like a hammer to drive some gullible free-media nails.
Isn't this what the tea-baggers are always complaining about -- entrenched incumbents using the pliant mainstream media to get fawning, unquestioning coverage? I guess it depends on who the incumbent is, eh, Charlie?
Interestingly, Clarke didn't seem too concerned about being hit by falling bodies as he posed for his holy pictures under the bridge. Given the state of the Mental Health Complex, as run by his soulmate Scott Walker, perhaps he should have been. The care and treatment of the mentally ill residents of Milwaukee County has deteriorated under gubernatorial-candidate-for-life Walker that the rate of suicide of all kinds is an issue that deserves the attention of our serious local officials. If only we could find one in the county executive or sheriff's office.
David Clarke's cynical use of occassional bridge-jumping just to get his mug on TV just before the primary is the worst kind of abuse of his office for political gain. And the media playing along as if he's serious is even worse.