Monday, March 17, 2008

Gableman’s Racist Ad: Right-Wing Silence


I have written often about how mainstream radio wing-nuts and their fellow-traveling bloggers are the most unoriginal people in the world. They get their talking points from the GOP or other senior message-directors and dutifully follow their directions. Just listen to them this week as they all play the same audio clips and say exactly the same things about Barack Obama’s former minister and how Obama can’t possibly separate himself from him, no matter what he says.

Don’t these supposed "entertainers" get sick of saying the same thing that some other knob is saying just up the dial? No – they have a job to do on behalf of the GOP and the right-wing.

Sometimes, the word from above is not to say anything. Locally, this phenomenon occurred recently when OWN and GWC came up with information about how Judge Michael Gableman got his job – basically, jumping other more-qualified candidates who actually lived in or near Burnett County by throwing in-the-bag Gov. Scott McCallum a couple of hefty fundraisers. Not a peep from the usual suspects. Thus do the supposedly-interesting and "spontaneous" right-wing bloggers and squawkers walk the party line.

And now this. When Scott Walker or some other right-wing darling puts out a campaign ad, it is posted on various predictable sites, with comments about how wonderful it all is and how lame the opponent is. But when Michael Gableman put out the most offensive, racist campaign ad in Wisconsin history on Friday, all but one of Wisconsin’s self-appointed right-wing intelligentsia said or wrote nothing. As far as I can tell, the imposition of the Cone of Silence continues as I write Monday at mid-day.

But the usual Gableman apologists should not be allowed to hide behind their the locked doors of their soundproof studios, corporate boardrooms and Marquette ivory towers. This is Gut-Check Time for the right-wing commentators. They can’t say they didn’t see it or didn’t have any thoughts about it. Hell, some of them were probably in on the strategy and timing of the damn thing, or at least they knew it was coming. They need to crawl out from under their rocks and defend it, if they can, or disavow it.

Roll Call:

  • Rick Esenberg: The WMC-video star, Federalist Society member and first-year law professor is intimately involved with the WMC-driven Gableman campaign and is the most likely to have an opinion on this. Just last Saturday, he ran two long posts trying to defend Gableman ads run by one of the surrogate front groups. UPDATE: Esenberg left a comment here and put up a new post since my original posting. First, he denies being part of the Gableman campaign: "I have exactly nothing to do with it," he says in the comment here. What a joke. Esenberg has been using his freshly-minted acedemic status to undermine Justice Butler on behalf of Gableman's recruiters at WMC for over a year now -- first with a hysterical "white paper" A Court Unbound; starring in a hilarious video for WMC about how horrible the "Butler" court is; and then taking part in WMC's dog-and-pony shows throughout the state to enrage the bantams about the danger of Butler. He also took an active part in trying to undermine the work of the WJCIC, the State Bar committee that predictably and rightly slapped the Gableman campaign upside the head after the racist ad ran, including appearing at a Federalist Society panel designed to undermine the committee mere days before the racist G-Bomb dropped. Esenberg pretending he has nothing to do with the Gableman campaign is like Karl Rove pretending he had nothing to do with the Swiftboat lies against John Kerry. Then, after going through his usual gosh-I-wish-they-hadn't-done-that sanctimony about the ad itself, he denies seeing any racism in the ugly racist ad. "I am not prepared to pronounce, without more, on the state of someone else's soul," he writes, pretending not to see the obvious on the face of the ad itself. So, as we shall see further down, that is the ultimate defense of those backing the racist Gableman -- they just don't see it. What are you going to believe -- me, or Esenberg's lying eyes? Since he says he can't see the racism inherent in the ad and finds what he does see a mere "disappointment" (like he expected better from Gableman?), count Esenberg as a qualified YES for the racist Gableman ad.
  • Charlie Sykes: A comment on Fraley’s post says Sykes called the ad "despicable" somewhere, but I can’t find it and neither can IT. UPDATE: The commenter, John, says it was on his TV show. UPDATE 2: Sykes weighs in today (3/18), saying he was "throwing a flag on our own team" because the ad is "misleading" and, of course, denying its racist intent and impact. Sykes actually predicts it might "backfire" on Gableman, but not if he can help it, I'm sure.
  • Brian Fraley: The Republican consultant was the only one who actually posted anything over the weekend on the controversy over the ad. His proud support of the racist ad includes the full text of a Gableman press release and a talking-point claim that the ad simply holds Butler to his comments in 2000 that someone’s record was "fair game". From the comment section, it appears Fraley thinks that criminal defense attorneys should be excluded from the court. So, count Fraley as a big YES for racist campaign tactics.
  • Owen Robinson: UPDATE: After being smoked out by my original post, the darling of the wing-nut bloggosphere actually posts the video itself and yet denies seeing anything racist in the ad (sound familiar?). He then takes it a step further by accusing "a bunch of lefties" (i.e.: me) "screaming racism where none exists". This is an interesting game of denying the obvious. Although admitting that the legal points in the ad were "marinated in political spin" (i.e.: lies), the MSM's favorite right-wing blogger doesn't seem to mind the ad all that much. Count him as one more big YES for Gableman's racist ad.
  • Wigderson: UPDATE #2: After denying he saw the ad at all (something about Holy Week...what, was he at vespers?), Wiggy finally gets his two cents in this morning, walking the party line by denying the racist nature of the ad, but finding it "deliberately misleading" on the facts. He thinks it's just fine that campaigns try to smear defense attorneys with their worst clients (it is the nature of criminal defense work that, the more experience you get, the more difficult the clients and the case) and, like Fraley, would prefer defense attorneys not be on the bench. He also wants to promote Esenberg to a seat on the Court. Now that's a race I'd like to see. In a separate shorter post, he accuses the WJCIC of being as biased as the WMC. This is just the kind of nonsense that was set up by the pre-emptive anti-WJCIC strike -- to tarnish the messenger who would complain about the damage when the inevitable bomb was dropped. Maybe next they can go after Janine Geske next or, eventually, the Judicial Commission.
  • UPDATE - Jo Egelhoff: Egelhoff finds the ad not racist (that's 4-for-4 in the denial talking-point). Like Rumsfeld at a press conference, she asks and answers her own questions, saying that the ad "stretches the truth", but that's just peachy with her. "Would we the voters pay attention if it weren’t dramatic and hard-hitting? No. Would we always get it without these tough ads, that there’s a difference between these two candidates and how they will rule on future cases? No." So, count the strongest YES vote yet for the racist ad -- wrong, but it works! You gotta love those Republicans.
  • GOP3: Nothing from Esenberg, Jr.
  • Jessica McBride: Nothing, but she hasn’t posted much lately. No doubt busy running her poor journalism students around to prove her political points.
  • Weber, McKenna, Wagner, Harris: Nothing from the third-tier of wing-nut radio. Too busy making identical points about Jeremiah Wright.
  • Badger Blogger, Texas Hold ‘Em, Dad29, etc.: Nothing, even from the nut-right fringe.

And so on...UPDATE: As more wing-nuts step forward, it is clear they have finally settled on a rationalization to continue siding with the racist Gableman. Those who want to maintain a shred of their dignity in case they might need it someday admit that the ad is "misleading" and they might even feign regret over the whole sorry episode. All of them then put that shred of dignity at risk again, by denying the racist nature and intent of the ad. I'll bet they did the same thing with the Willie Horton ad. But they are all in the same boat now -- still attached to a racist candidate who is trying to defeat the first African-American on the Supreme Court with racist imagery and fear-mongering. That's their problem and our burden.

Oh, and then there is the WMC, which recruited the unqualified Gableman in the first place. OWN has put up the WMC Watch today, just in time. Check the list of WMC Board members, and do your shopping accordingly (just say no to Johnsonville brats, etc.).


Rick Esenberg said...


Sorry I'm not able to meet your time table. For the record, I am not "intimately involved with the Gableman campaign." I have exactly nothing to do with it. I do write, comment and teach about the Wisconsin Supreme Court and related issues.

Anonymous said...

But Rick...what do you think about the ad? Don't you have even an initial reaction that could have taken just as little time to write as your above comment?

Anonymous said...

Still waiting for one nutball leftie to comment on the idiotic PMW ad that claims Gableman has a thrid of his cases turned over on appeal...

The actual number is a total of 6.

Take your stupid outrage somewhere worthwhile.


James Wigderson said...

Truthfully, I haven't seen the ad, although anyone who can read and has read my blog knows I have criticized people on the right in the past.

If I see the ad, I'll comment on it, but right now I'm a little busy celebrating Holy Week, in case you haven't noticed.

Now, if you want to talk about lock-step blogging, has anyone on the Left had anything critical to say about Planned Parenthood's attack ads and how untruthful they are?

See? It's all a matter of priorities and time. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some more pretty pictures of Rome to post.

James Wigderson said...

By the way, it's "W-i-g-d-e-r-s-o-n." Wig-der-son. Just like Anderson, except it's not. Just check the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel weekly if you're in doubt about the spelling.

illusory tenant said...

Six must be a third of something, yes? Math's really not my thing, but I think six is a third of 18. Unless you include 9,000 uncontested traffic tickets, which makes a judge's reversal rate practically superhuman.

Anonymous said...

I heard Sykes say it on his TV show. He was referring to the Coalition for American Families ads and the Gabelman ad.

Anonymous said...

Oh who cares. It's time for Butler to go. Enough of Alabama North.

Anonymous said...

Question to Plaisted:

If Gableman's ad is patently racist, are J. Wright's sermons racist also? Is Senator BO (as in Bee-Oooh) racist for not correcting Wright?

Maybe a left-hand threaded wingnut like you can educate a right-hand threaded wingnut like me.


Anonymous said...

Since when is showing a guys picture racist? I honestly didn't know he was black until all of this hullaballoo. The pictures shown are all pretty light.

But regardless, the left is the only side continuing to harp on race or gender.

There really are those of us that couldn't care less if Butler was purple with pink dots - he sided with the majority on the travesty of the lead paint ruling. That alone is enough for him to be voted out.


David Casper said...

I'm really at a loss here. What makes this ad racist?

Anonymous said...

It's racist if the Gableman campaign deliberately used the case because they figured Wisconsin voters would be alarmed by a close-up of a black guy on their TV screens.

You know, because Wisconsin voters didn't recently overwhelmingly nominate a man of mixed black/white ancestry to run for President or anything.

Anonymous said...

I was hoping you turned out to be right on this one Mike, but on my ride home I heard some dude on the radio (WISN at 4:15) and this guy said if the ad was bullshit someone would try to refute it. Since this guy gets to play Rush Limbaugh on occasion he must have some credibility. So like all your other commenters here I am going to ignore the facts you cite (like the actual factually erroneous claims in the ad) and just talk about my feelings.

I have been taught for much of my life that my interests are generally aligned with those of Manufacturers and Commercial dudes. Ergo, when they say something, I am supposed to go along. If they try some crap trick, I understand its part of the game. They may be morons, but they are my morons.

As for the guy who can spell his own name- let's say we choose to believe you haven't seen the ad because you spend so much time typing on the internet-you will certainly see it this weekend. Tell Mike then if the ad is misleading.

Matt - that's M-A-T-T- Not at all like Anderson.

James Wigderson said...

So Mike, when are you going to correct the Planned Parenthood lies?

Other Side said...

James, when are you going to apologize for voting for George Bush? I mean, cut it out.

Anyway, what does claiming racist intent in an ad have to do with whether another ad is telling the truth or not? You cannot possibly be that blind to not see that this ad plays well outside Milwaukee, where the people only hear the blather about all the bad things black males do in Milwaukee.

There was absolutely no reason for the juxtaposition of Justice Butler's image with that of Ruben Mitchell. I'm curious what the racial makeup of the others individuals mentioned was. I'll bet it had something to do with the fact their lily-white faces would not have made as much of an impact.