The Mighty Mudhens are preparing for their second season in the Milwaukee Men’s Senior Baseball League, 48+ Division. Our first season was a gas, most of us – including me – playing real hardball for the first time since high school. I surprised myself by hitting pretty good, which I attributed to my five years of coaching Little League – I just did what I always told the kids to do and, son-of-a-gun, it worked. We were an expansion team in a six-team division and didn’t win one damn game, but a great time was had by all.
I was thinking of sharing some of the Mudhen experience with my readers this summer – you know, take a little of the edge off the political stuff that is bound to have us all tied up in knots until November with happy stories of older guys trying to play baseball. But then Jessica McBride pulled her little stunt yesterday and, well, I guess it’s best I not put too much personal stuff out there.
After giving all of us a break for the most part in the early part of the year from her ponderous and unintentionally hilarious postings, McBride the blogger lurched clumsily into the issues surrounding the Supreme Court race three weeks before the election by creating a second page called Election Watch Wisconsin. The page appeared to have two primary purposes: first, to conduct some extremely amateur and out-right wrong legal case analysis to try to prove that the Butler campaign was puffing up its estimate of how often the justice voted to uphold criminal convictions and; second, to promote her and her husband’s chosen candidate for the Second District Court of Appeals, who got thumped by incumbent Doyle-appointee Lisa Neubauer. It was an embarrassing, sloppy effort in all respects and a delight for those of us who like to watch arrogant no-talents get into slow-motion train wrecks.
The Second District electorate and anyone with any sense were rightly unimpressed with her hackneyed, embarrassing promotion of losing candidate Bill Gleisner. The series of comedic posts reached classic Soup-Nazi-like status when she offered a letter from Gleisner’s pastor to "prove" his anti-choice credentials, an event even more pathetic because Gleisner gave it to her.
But it was left to others to dig deep to expose McBride’s ham-fisted distortion of Justice Butler’s record on the Supreme Court. Although I read all the cases she initially cited and made an early effort to expose her deliberate cluelessness, learned counsel Illusory Tenant burned millions of pixels on his site during the last weeks of the campaign in an 11 (and counting) part series, coldly eviscerating, case-by-case, the lies of McBride and her fellow travelers in the "Coalition for Wisconsin Families", a nationally-funded advertising campaign disguised as an interest group. I personally wouldn’t spend that much time (even if I had it) dignifying McBride’s hack job with such an elaborate response, but, for anyone wondering if maybe she had stumbled onto some truth by accident, IT’s yeoman service exposed – alas, too late and too quietly – the lies for what they were.
Now, most nut-right operatives who had just gotten away with playing a part in a campaign of distortions that contributed, however minutely, to the defeat of the distinguished first African-American on the Supreme Court, would simply chalk up another one for their side and wait for their invitation to the WMC celebration, coming soon to an undisclosed country club near you. But not our Jess. Still stung by IT’s stellar posts during the campaign and the resultant mild celebrity that resulted in him being invited to chat for ten minutes on public radio, McBride decided to breach the unwritten and who-but-her-doesn’t-know-it rule that you don’t go around getting into personal lives of your opponents in the war of ideas. See, because of his radio appearance, McBride found out the formerly-anonymous IT’s name. The intrepid reporter googled and CCAPed him. She found out some stuff. Then she posted the results, employing the well-worn right-wing tactic of the politics of personal destruction in the hopes that people might forget or ignore how right he is and how wrong she is.
Now, if I were IT, I would be honored by a cheap hack like Jessica McBride flailing around and embarrassing herself in public just because she couldn’t take the heat. It’s like being on Nixon’s enemies list. But, really, none of us on either left or right out here should have to be looking over our shoulders to see who might be ready to expose our public-record weaknesses, much less our private ones.
McBride’s timing in her unwarranted personal attack is interesting, since it comes just after Owen Robinson bemoaned what he called "the decline of the Wisconsin blogosphere" into "insults and filth". I don’t agree with him necessarily. I think sharp language that keeps the focus on what people say and what they do to advance their own political agendas and those of others is fair comment. I say this knowing that I have been attacked for my own comments and characterizations. I try to challenge and engage people on the other side on their terms about what they are saying and doing on subjects they have chosen to engage in. For instance, when I call McBride a "cheap hack", that is judging her public persona, not her private one, about which I couldn’t care less.
Which brings us back to the Mudhens. The MSBL has a website, you see, and all my stats will be up there (not to mention my picture with the 38+/48+ All-Star team [scroll down on the main page], but I digress...). Although I batted a respectable .385 last year, what will happen if it goes south this year? If I go 0-for-4 early in the season, will McBride point to my inept hitting as analogous to my political swings-and-misses? If I go 0-for-May, will I be declared incapable of coherent political thought? I can’t risk losing my confidence at the plate, my spot in the batting order and my small niche in the blogosphere in this important season for the Mudhens and this important election in the fall. McBride, please stay away from the 'Hens. I can't take the pressure.
In the Information Age, we are all so vulnerable in so many ways. But none are so weak as those who exploit that information to prop themselves up.