Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Right-Wing Tiptoes Around Racist Ad

I wound up in Update Hell last night and this morning, as the right-wing bloggers rushed to respond to my observation that, until I smoked them out early Monday, they were universally and strategically silent on the racist Gableman ad. While standing in the Springsteen GA line (20 numbers from the Pit! Arrgh!), I started noticing comments popping up by several of them making various lame excuses. By the morning, there were six of them who posted something or other on their blogs. I did an update here and an update there and the results were not pretty, to say the least. My original post now lies somewhere in pixilated purgatory, my carefully-crafted prose hacked and shredded within an inch of its life.

Anyway, the results are in, with few surprises and the usual numbing sameness. Your players are Rick Esenberg, Owen Robinson, James Wigderson (please check spelling), Charlie Sykes, Brian Fraley and Jo Egelhoff. Here’s the final tally for those scoring at home:
  • The ad was "misleading": 3.5 (Robinson gets half-a-point for not admitting even to "misleading" until Comment 17)
  • Beating up on Butler just because he was a defense attorney is a bad thing: 2 (Sykes, Esenberg)
  • Beating up on Butler just because he was a defense attorney is a good thing: 3 (Egelhoff, Fraley, Wiggy).
  • The ad was racist: 0
  • Strongest (though still mild) rebuke of the ad: Surprise – it’s Charlie Sykes.
  • Boldest who-cares-what-you-think-as-long-as-it-works attitude: Egelhoff
  • ...until, that is...Mark Belling this afternoon.

I can’t remember the last time I dug into Belling. I think he has been the most affected by recent trends towards common sense and throw-the-Republicans-out sentiment. Belling now spends a lot of time trying to show he’s a sports expert or promoting one of his feels-like-monthly cruises. Maybe he’s planning his next career move (next on WISN, Your Money with Mark Belling) He also does not have as much to dig your teeth into, lacking a vanity blog like Sykes, where you can at least have something you can pull apart. But, when he does get off on a rant, you can sometimes count on something with that special blend of sanctimony and offensiveness that makes him the most embarrassing person on Milwaukee mainstream radio.

Belling gave himself about five minutes on Tuesday to talk about the racist Gableman ad. [Here it is, but he talks about another one of his cruises until 6:07.] It’s a carefully designed performance, with no phone callers – not even the phony ones. Those of us outraged by the ad, said Belling, are not concerned about anything legitimate; we are "furious about it because it exposes where Louie Butler really comes from" Well, actually, I am a little concerned about – "The ad exposes a criminal that Butler got off and he went on to commit other crimes." Well, no, he didn’t get him off – "But the ad it true!" Well, not really – "Butler did it!" Well, no...

Belling never lets the facts get in the way when he imagines himself on a roll. He never discussed any of the details of the ad – not the facts of the Mitchell case or the Willie Horton-style presentation of the scary-black-man mug shot next to the African-American justice. Before you knew what he was talking about, he summed up and bolted for the commercial break: "The attacks that Gableman is running on Butler’s liberal record are absolutely on point and they are accurate." He’s obviously reading a script here. "There’s nothing misleading about them and, if there were, Butler’s people would be able to point out where the inaccuracies are and, of course they can’t do that." Butler’s "people" and many others have done just that, but...never mind. He’s already in commercial and never returned to the topic.

"Accurate...nothing misleading". Well, OK. Chalk up another big YES for the racist Gableman ad by one of Milwaukee’s biggest radio personalities.

Despite all this, Rick Esenberg is going to get injured from patting himself on the back for the right-wing’s fine (although belated) performance on the issue of the Gableman ad. "So far, its the ‘right wing noise machine’ that has looked critically at both sides," he brags as he points to comments by Sykes and himself and, er, Sykes and himself. Nothing about the 100% support for the ads from Egelhoff and Fraley , much less Belling (alright, so Belling was on the air after he posted). And, I don’t think any of them should be posing for holy pictures when they remain supposedly blind to the obvious racism in the ad, which has been rightly noted by the NAACP, the WJCIC, Bruce Murphy and many others. Those who were responsible for the Willie Horton ad against Dukakis in ‘88 also denied that it was racially motivated, and who believes that now? Ooops, wait, I bet they’ll say they do.

Besides calling me names I have to look up (I am not irritable, dammit!) and denying that he, the WMC talking-head and white-paper-writer on all things anti-Butler, has anything to do with the Gableman "campaign" (I guess it depends on what the word "campaign" means – if he means the small organization that they had to set up separate from Gableman’s WMC recruiters and handlers to make it look like a real campaign, maybe he’s right), Esenberg calls on the left to call out the GWC ads critical of Gableman. Well, here you go: I think the facts raised in the ads are important – the way Gableman got his judge appointment may be legal, but it sure stinks – and I am unaware of any inaccuracies in the ads themselves. In fact, Gableman couldn’t come up with any when specifically asked about it at last week’s MBA forum. But I do think it is unfortunate that the issues were first noticed (OWN’s fine research notwithstanding) by such ads. I think it tends to trivialize the issues – it’s hard to take them seriously when they are thrown out in ads featuring bobble-heads. I think the tone of the ad is unduly frivilous - even for a third-party - in a judicial race. There. Is that "critical" enough for you, Rick?

But trying to pretend "both sides are doing it" does not do justice to the racist and deliberately misleading Gableman ad. While the some of the right-wingers are now saying something, they are all still avoiding the issues of what the ad tries to do. They continue on their determined mission, trying to destroy the extraordinarily-talented first African-American on the Supreme Court by any means necessary.

UPDATE: The Journal-Sentinel continues its head-in-the-sand reporting on the racist ad this morning. The paper reports about a new Butler ad ("Shame") that reviews news commentary that accuses the Gableman campaign of "making despicable attacks" without saying anything about the racist intent and imagery. The report is also the second since the weekend that fails to mention the WJCIC smack-down - score another unfortunate success for the pre-emptive stike on the State Bar committee by WMC/Esenberg. Gableman thug Darrin Schmitz is quoted again, accusing Justice Butler of "tying the hands of law enforcement and siding with criminals," the same sort of flaming rhetoric on which the WJCIC first engaged the offical Gableman "campaign" months ago.

There was some other news in the article. Good news: The Gableman campaign has been referred in a complaint to the Judicial Commission by Citizen Action Wisconsin for its racist, lying ad. The bad news: The Judicial Commission is not scheduled to meet again until three weeks after the election.


Anonymous said...

"Besides calling me names I have to look up."
So did I!

Unknown said...

I love your play-by-play rundown of the wingnuts fumbling all over themselves, Mike. Keep up the good work!