Of all the steaming heaps of BS in a budget and a budget address full of it, the funniest line of Scott Walker’s stilted, Teleprompter-ed speech to three-fourths of the Wisconsin Legislature was this doozy:
“I have been asked a lot over the past week about what happens next. Well, I’m an optimist. I believe that after our budget repair bill passes, tempers will cool, and we will find a way to continue to work together to help grow our economy.”
What a load. Even a script-reading tool like Walker must have struggled to stifle a chuckle over that one. “Tempers will cool”? “Continue to work together”? Earth to Scott Walker: You have burned your bridges with everyone to the center and left of Dale Schultz. There is no way back – not that you were ever there. Tempers will not cool. No one other than your goose-stepping fellow radical Republicans in the legislature is going to work with you, or even pretend to talk to your sorry ass. You have until the recall election in the spring of 2012 to wreak as much havoc as you can on the citizens and government of Wisconsin. After that, I’m sure you’ll have a generous offer to serve as cabana boy for one of the Koch Brothers.
All Walker had to do is look to his left from the podium to see the brave and abused Assembly Democrats sitting on their hands when he was introduced, during all applause lines and when he left to see that any chance of working together with any Democrat, anywhere, is long gone. It was as if the real world the Democrats live in and the alternative reality of Fox News and talk radio were side-by-side in the same room. On the one side (and in a gallery strategically packed with Walkerites), the Boy Governor drew a standing ovation for every nut-right cliché. Across the aisle, the Assembly Dems sat in sorrowful witness of the dismantling of the state, as quiet and dignified as the rightously-empty chairs of the Senate Dems.
And the Senate Dems might want to look into getting out of those hotels and renting a couple of cheap apartments in Illinois. Governor Righteous isn’t budging anywhere soon. Unless they manage to peel off a couple more GOP senators to go along with Sen. Schultz in voting down the union-busting bill, they can’t come back. Walker’s chief henchman in the Senate, Speaker Scott Fitzgerald, found time – when he wasn’t hiding the Dem senators’ paychecks, signing the timesheets of their staff or sending his daddy’s (storm) troopers out to arrest them – to try to back-door some of the exiled Dems to convince them to stab their fellow senators in the back by coming to Madison to give Fitzgerald his goddamn quorum. No way, they said. If anyone’s coming back, they will all come back together. And then, only when the time and the bill is right.
And that may be – never, or at least not until the balance of power shifts in the Senate or Walker is recalled. Even if the union-busting of the “budget repair” bill is resolved, it still leaves all the various radical bombs in the two-year budget to deal with. And, once they get one Democrat in the room, the Senate will never adjourn. It may be that the Democratic senators will have to stay away for months to prevent all the bad stuff from happening – the Republicans being able to do nothing is definitely a better alternative than this band of reckless ideologues doing anything.
The resulting stalemate is all on Walker and the Republicans. Until they realize that they can’t dictate every aspect of every piece of legislation for the next two years (or less, if recalls flip the Senate or the governor), we are all going to have one sorry mess on our hands. “The Republican-controlled Legislature can't just rubber-stamp this budget from a Republican governor,” says the ever-hopeful and clueless Journal Sentinel in a typically mealy-mouthed editorial Wednesday. Oh, yes they can. And they fully expected to, until the small matter of the Bus Filibuster by Senate Democrats and hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in and around the Capitol reared their sweet heads.
After what the radical Republicans have already done and what they fully intend to do, Walker is dreaming if he really thinks he will ever be able to be in the same room with any Democrat, much less “work together” with them. But the line in his speech was just another lie – he knows he can’t and he doesn’t care. He and the Republicans will ram through as much crap as they can as long as they can and they don’t care what you think.
A year or four years or a decade from now, it will be up to the grown-ups in the Democratic leadership to pick up the pieces and repair the damage – just like President Obama has had to do after the Disaster that was Junior Bush. In the meantime, anyone with the power to do so should stand in the way. Unfortunately for those brave souls, the burden on the Senate Democrats to stay away as long as they can stand it just got that much heavier.