Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Garbage Time

It’s garbage time in the Supreme Court race, where those who would try to smear eminently qualified Justice Louis Butler enough to convince gullible voters to replace him with the extremely unqualified Michael Gableman are throwing up prayers in an effort to wrest the seat from the independent Butler in favor of the pathetically dependent Gableman. Oppo-researchers from the WMC/Gableman campaign have spent the last year or so plowing through Butler’s record as a justice, judge and – more hilariously – a defense attorney. What they have come up with is remarkably thin and unconvincing. And now, in apparent desperation, his ever-hopeful surrogates have released the limp hounds of WMC’s war – the drips and dregs of feverish research which has produced nothing of substance but enough to be twisted by pathetic supplicants with blogs and radio shows.

Garbage time started on Monday, when everyone’s favorite right-wing pretend-blogger (i.e.: all he does is link to other people’s writing), Owen Robinson, was fed some nonsense by the WMC/Gableman oppo-researchers about a case Louis Butler took up to the U.S. Supreme Court that involved what an appointed appellate attorney had to do if he or she found that a client’s appeal would be frivolous. Robinson got it demonstrably wrong, but didn’t care because, if you believed his ludicrous take on the case, it made Butler look bad.

Then, the same oppo-researchers fed Charlie Sykes a story about Butler getting emotional during the sentencing of young client who was convicted of second-degree homocide, the 1990 Milwaukee Journal (or Sentinel) story of which he linked to on his vanity blog. Although Sykes was busy using his mainstream, government-licensed radio megaphone to campaign against Butler and for WMC/Gableman all this week (talk about your in-kind contributions from corporations), he still found time to help the oppo-researchers feel like their years of fruitless Butler-trolling were worthwhile.

One of many last shoes in the campaign’s shotgun strategy dropped Tuesday, when WMC/Gableman apologist Rick Esenberg issued his latest Federalist Society-funded, strategically-timed "white-paper", which is a fancy name for "more reasons you should fear Louis Butler". This one is a hilarious look into the future, where the first-year visiting professor vividly imagines issues such as gay marriage bubbling up to the dangerously-comprised Wisconsin Supreme Court. "The Wisconsin Supreme Court remains sharply divided on a variety of significant issues, and these issues will have a profound impact on the state," concludes the stately tome. "This state of affairs points to the need for vigorous and open debate, not only on the qualifications, but over the proper role of the judiciary in this state." This state of affairs! Harumph! Qualifications? Aw, qualifications are for suckers...

In his post distributing the Federalist Society product, Esenberg again tries to explain how much he is not an integral part of the WMC/Gableman campaign. Just try to read this without laughing: "The Society takes no position on the races [hah! good one!] and that is why I decided not to endorse or be involved [hee hee!] in any campaign." Let’s list again how important Esenberg’s many efforts have been to the WMC/Gableman campaign.
  • Starred in WMC video, setting up the WMC "argument" for change by feigning outrage about exaggerated trends on the Supreme Court since Butler was appointed. Participated in WMC's state tour driving the same talking-points.
  • Took an active part in the unfortunately successful WMC/Gableman effort to preemptively attack the WJCIC so that the effect of their good work would be minimized when the inevitable shit hit the fan last week, with the racist Willie Horton ad and the WMC’s deceptive Jensen ad this week (both ripped by the committee; both rips ignored by the Journal Sentinel, and others).
  • Repeated the WMC/Gableman talking-point that the first Gableman ad was not racist, when everyone except the Gableman apologists saw that it was.
  • Continues to defend Scoop McBride’s amateurish hack-job on Butler’s record.
  • Sat on a TV panel with Charlie Sykes last week, while Sykes repeated his "Loophole Louie" denigration of the historic African-American justice, smiled and said nothing about Sykes’ outrageously boorish behavior.
  • Put out this latest Federalist Society white paper to provide more fodder for the WMC/Gableman campaign one week before the election. If he had put it out after next Tuesday, they probably wouldn’t have paid him.
  • Etc.

Well, Esenberg has his own reasons (having to do with the Federalists' 501(c) tax-exemption, I’m sure) for denying what he has been doing in broad daylight for months. The real comeuppance for him and the other right-wing propagators of the Gableman fraud is that they will have to live with themselves and their diminished reputations after next week. If their boy loses next week, they will have to explain why they supported an unqualified hack whose WMC handlers ran the most repulsive campaign in Wisconsin history. It’ll be even worse if he wins.


Emily said...

Well said.

I have only one thing to add.

William Tyroler said...

For my money, the most serious criticism of Professor Esenberg is that he took McBride's blatherings seriously. She presented us with a slubby mass of data rather than a true analysis of anything worthwhile. My beef with Professor Esenberg is that he's an academic (and, from all indications, a very talented one) -- I expect more from him than, say, a partisan like Owen Robinson; in particular, I expected him to recognize immediately that McBride's "analysis" was worthless.

Even so I'd be happy to forget this, except that he went one click too far, and expressly accused the Butler campaign of "cooking the data." That accusation was unforgivable and should have been retracted, especially as iT sharpened the point. No retraction has been forthcoming, and I see that as his major stumble.

Jim Bouman said...


That's no stumble.

It's a lurch, a dive, a full monty wallow in the mud.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget Dohnal's frivolous complaint.

Anonymous said...

Be prepared, this may well be off topic:

I was just watching Butler's new TV ad in which he states: I ruled for children against unsafe products--I'm pretty sure this is exactly what the ad atates. In one sense this is an oversiplified reply to attacks regarding the led paint decision which received so much ridicule.

Here's my problem: Why are supreme court justices ruling "for" anyone? Shouldn't they be interpreting the law and nothing more? In the same sense that we should not criticize Butler for defending horrible clients as a defense attorney, shouldn't we criticize him for seeming to imply that he should be rewarded for "defending the little guy" here? If justice is blind then doesn't this ad pull back that veil in an inappropriate way? After all, it is that same severe adherence to this principle that allows us to excuse the defense of rapists: regardless of who the defendant is or what they are accused of ding, they deserve a complete defense--this is what we tell ourselves.

Do we really want a justice who seems to have a soft spot for the kids? Isn't the law what matters?

Again, I'm not trying to be snarky, but I know you are very passionate about this issue and likely have pondered this question.

Anonymous said...

Here's an issue - do we really want someone who has such disdain for our system of justice? Look how Gableman answers (or doesn't) this great question:

Q: Kathy Chung of Milwaukee - I was a public defender in Milwaukee for seven years. I represented indigent criminal defendants ethically and zealously. I have moved the court successfully (and unsuccessfully) to suppress evidence against my clients. I have won acquitals (and received convictions) at jury trials. Overall, I had a reputation as a hard worker, and ethical lawyer. Can I be criticized legitimately for doing my job well for my clients? If no, how can you condone the ads against Justice Butler? If yes, how can defense lawyers, or any lawyers do their job ethically, and not be subject to attack from, for example, a supreme court candidate? Thank you, Kathleen Chung

A: Michael Gableman - Criminal defense attorneys are a very important part of our judicial system. The fact is that elections are about choices and there are few more important choices than the election that will occur next Tuesday, April 1st. My opponent and I have very different backgrounds. I was a long-time prosecutor who worked very hard to seek justice for victims and hold offenders accountable. My opponent was a long-time criminal defense attorney. Each voter may use this information to whatever extent they may find useful, but the fact of our different experiences serves as a sharp contrast between my opponent and me. I believe that the voters have a right to know this information and to use it in the manner they view most helpful when deciding who to vote for.