I was all ready tonight to dig into Patrick McIlheran and his hysterical screed ripping on historian John Gurda’s surprisingly brilliant piece in the Sunday Journal Sentinel’s Crossroads section. Titled “Smashing Demon Government”, Gurda aptly compares contemporary tea-baggers with the prohibitionists of the early 20th century. But he doesn’t stop there, plowing into Scott Walker for trying to take us “down a rabbit hole to the darkness of class conflict and civic suicide.” Walker “has touched off a bitter and utterly unnecessary war with his incendiary style of governing”, concluding that, even if he wins “it will be all of us who lose”. It is the best locally-written piece that has run in the Journal Sentinel opinion pages in memory.
And it was all too much for the paper’s in-house wing-nut, McIlheran. McIlheran is used to have the field of strong opinions to himself in the Journal Sentinel, and he wasn’t about to cede his apparent birthright to the uppity Gurda. Paddy Mac apparently spent all day Sunday an most of Monday morning in a feverish rage writing a post on his vanity blog that included three color pictures and 1,500 words. After mocking his fellow columnist for writing “vignettes about beer gardens or fur traders” – as opposed to the GOP talking points he regularly regurgitates – McIlheran tosses around his usual nut-right bugaboos like phony sick notes anarchists in the Capitol and makes up a few facts (teachers are going to retain their”annual raises for moving up the experience scale” without the protection of a union contract? Sez who?).
McIlheran is too easy of a target. The increasingly desperate screeches of he and his governor, who are losing in the court of opinion, are the rantings of paper captains with brightly-polished buttons who have lost control of their ship. But, I was all ready to spend some time paddling their sorry asses anyway, especially after Walker came out in a press conference and lost his robot-like cool because he says he thought he had a deal for an end to the standoff with a couple of the Brave Wisconsin 14 who he thinks are squishy.
Turns out that they are not, and Walker can continue to go f*ck himself if he thinks any of them are showing up for a vote that would mean the end of public employee unions in Wisconsin. I’d like to think that some of the Dems were sent out on purpose to string the Boy Governor along and then sandbag him. He certainly deserves it. More likely, Walker and the incredibly toadying Fitzgerald boys are exaggerating any small concessions they were willing to just think about and flailing around trying to sow dissention in the Democratic ranks. As have most of their stunts in the past couple weeks, it backfired.
But I digress. I am rather here to bury, if only I could, the short columnist career of O. Ricardo Pimentel.
I don’t know how I missed it, but last Friday Pimentel, who is delusional enough to think that he is a voice for the working man and woman, posted the most horrendous assault on workers in Wisconsin. Titled simply “It’s time”, Pimentel pronounces the Bus Filibuster of the Brave Wisconsin 14 over and calls for their quick return, so that they and Wisconsin public employees can more readily be kicked in the teeth. Way to go, Ricardo. Thanks for nothing.
The Journal Sentinel editorial board has been disastrously wrong about the Brave Wisconsin 14 ever since new right-wing editorial page editor David D. Hayes knee jerked on the day the 14 brilliantly lit out for Illinois, calling them names and disparaging their bravery and effectiveness since Day 1. You would think that Pimentel – as close to a counter-balance to McIlheran’s scripted right-wing advocacy as the paper allows itself – might see the fact that all the bad stuff in the “repair” bill had not yet happened and worked within the board to bring the Kings of State Street a little closer to seeing the realities of the real world. You would be wrong.
In his ridiculous blog post, Pimentel credits the Brave Wisconsin 14 with every accomplishment except the primary one – that the Bad Bill is not now and might not ever be law. “The absences have outlived their usefulness, though they have succeeded beyond wildest expectations in other respects – to Democrats’ benefit in purely partisan, political terms,” he writes, citing an increase in passion on the left. He does not mention at all that the primary objective – to prevent the Bad Bill from becoming law and to force the radical Republican jihad to compromise and remove the blatant union-busting language from the bill – has succeeded wildly and complete victory is still a possibility. Instead, he encourages the Brave Wisconsin 14 to accept their dire fate – and that of the working men and women of Wisconsin – and accede to the evil designs of Republicans gone mad.
If Pimentel and the Journal Sentinel board had spent half the time beating up on Walker and the Republicans for what they are trying to do and the arrogant, thuggish way they are trying to do it (still, not a word from the editorial board about the flash-vote by the Republicans in the Assembly in the middle of the night), they might have gotten ahead of the voters who are firmly rejecting the Republican tactics and agenda. But the board still can’t bring itself to accept that, by endorsing Walker for governor, they have made the biggest mistake a long history of big mistakes (see its continued support for the school “choice” boondoggle in today’s paper). They continue to expect, with no reason to, compromise from those who have rejected compromise and reason from the unreasonable.
For his sorry part, Pimentel is in a big hurry to get the Democrats back to Madison so the Republicans can finish the job of creating Alabama North in Wisconsin. He insists that those winning the Battle for Wisconsin’s Soul must surrender. He urges the Brave Wisconsin 14 to grab defeat from the clutches of victory. “…the outcome I desire – statesmanship-induced compromise from Walker because of a few changed GOP minds – is not attainable,” he concludes, so we should just roll over and take it. What a pitiful position for a supposed progressive in Wisconsin to take. Pimentel the columnist is a joke – and not a funny one.