The Journal Sentinel just can't bring itself to address the issue of David Clarke's blatantly false declaration of himself as a Democrat on the primary ballot for Milwaukee County Sheriff. But they are all over Chris Moews' attendance at a Junior Bush rally in 2004. Pictures in Bush T-shirts and everything -- they even drag one of his kids into it. Dan "Bulldog" Bice (with apologies to the original Bulldog, who knows who he is) nails it. Moews went to a Bush rally, alright. Case closed.
Bice's piece was an easy triumph for the Clarke campaign, which no doubt threw the photo over the transom in the quiet empty halls of the Journal Sentinel building on State St. And the J-S was all too willing to take the bait and do some pro-Clarke spinning in advance of the laughable editorial board's expected endorsement of the arrogant, grandstanding Clarke any day now. Who cares if Clarke is a pretend Democrat when Moews can't possibly be a real Democrat after attending a Bush rally six years ago? I mean, everyone knows you forfeit your identity as a Democrat by walking in that door, right?
Well, no. Some true Democrats -- especially law enforcement -- have been supporting Republican presidential candidates since Nixon. Republicans have always put up a phony macho posture on issues of war and crime and a lot of folks unfortunately fall for that bullshit. They vote for Democrats down the the rest of the ballot, but sometimes falling in with the GOP presidential candidate because, no matter what they do ("John Kerry, reporting for duty!"), the Dems somehow always get out-butched by the patronizing posturing of empty Republicans.
But that vote for the Republican at the top of the ticket that one year (Moews gave Bice photos of him at a Clinton rally -- where were they in the piece?) doesn't make Moews less of a Democrat any more than the millions of Republicans who voted for Obama in 2008 are less so. The headline of the Bice piece says that Moews is only a real Democrat "sometimes". Wrong. He's a real Democrat, remained so when he walked in and voted for Bush in 2004, and was still a Democrat when he walked out.
I think he was wrong to vote for Bush. But I'm not going to single-issue him for that when there is much more at stake in this race than electoral purity. The unfortunate thing about this kind of Clarke-generated non-issue is that it peels away the support of those who will turn away Moews and fail to recognize the strong victory a Clarke defeat would bring in this difficult year. This kind of story does the double damage of not only letting Clarke off the hook for his fraudulent election tactics, but also diminishes the enthusiasm we should have for this race.
The important issue is that Moews is a real Democrat and will act like one in office. He will respect the collective bargaining process and follow the resulting contracts with his deputies, therefore increasing morale throughout the agency. He will cooperate with, rather than dictate to, other law enforcement agencies in the county. Chris Moews will not spend half his day phoning in to wing-nut talk radio shows or clopping around the courthouse in cowboy boots, looking for the next opportunity to make a bigger name so he can embarass himself by running for mayor again.
And, in the Bice piece, he follows the rest of the paper's lead by glossing over Clarke's radical-right Republican identity. "The incumbent also receives many donations from Republicans. He also has met with Bush and many of his top operatives at the White House. He even spoke at a tea party rally in Milwaukee last year." Left unsaid, because it conflicts with other Journal Communications properties, is that Clarke is a darling of right-wing talk radio hosts like Charlie Sykes.
There can be no question that David Clarke wants nothing to do with the Democratic party, other than to get a D next to his name on the ballot so he can get his sorry ass elected again. Chris Moews, on the other hand, has embraced Democratic ideals and the party itself. For the Journal Sentinel to pretend that there is even a question about Moews' Democratic identity makes it a knowing pawn in David Clarke's dirty campaign.