Power-crazed Walker wants to pick Senate Dems' leader, too | WisCommunity

Power-crazed Walker wants to pick Senate Dems' leader, too

Gov. Scott Walker has been on a power trip since the day he won the election, trying to centralize control of state government in his office.  He doesn't even want to share with the Republicans who have the majority in both houses of the legislature.

Monday his egomania led him to scale new heights of absurdity, as he tried to tell the State Senate's 14 Democrats that he didn't like the leader they've chosen, wouldn't meet with him, wouldn't negotiate with him, and wouldn't even talk to him.

The Democrat in question, pictured, is the mild-mannered, wouldn't-hurt-a-flea-if-it-bit-him Mark Miller of Monona (nice alliteration, but we digress). He wrote to Walker Monday to suggest they meet somewhere near the Wisconsin-Illinois border to see if they could negotiate an end to the impasse that has sent the 14 Dems into exile in Illinois.

It's understandable that Miller and the Dems thought Walker and the GOP might be more open to negotiating, since a poll by a right-wing front group masquerading as a think tank showed nearly two-thirds of the respondents want Walker to compromise.

Walker's response was to trash Miller, say he is the one preventing him from making a side deal with some other Dems, and claiming that Miller really isn't the leader of the Dem caucus.  Incredible stuff -- unless you know Scott Walker, whose head has gotten so big his staff wasn't sure it would fit through the door where the news conference was being held.

Scott Fitzgerald, the State Senate's GOP leader, piled on, too, suggesting Miller was out of touch and not really in charge.

You might ask yourself, if he's not in charge and not the leader, how Wallker could accuse him of single-handedly blocking an agreement.  But that's a different question.

Miller responded by inviting Walker to talk to any of the 14 he wanted to -- a potentially dangerous opening for Walker to lean on the weakest link in the Democratic caucus.  But the Dems have said repeatedly that if they come back, it won't be just one or two of them; they'll be together.

Walker said Miller blew up a deal worked out with Sens. Tim Cullen and Bob Jauch that would have brought half a dozen Dems home, but Jauch called that "an outrageous lie."  He and Cullen did meet with Republicans near Kenosha last week.  Both sides say there has been private contact on almost a daily basis.  Cullen met again with two Repubs on Sunday, he said.

"Never, never has there been a suggestion that Tim Cullen and I would somehow abandon the other 12 for the sake of cutting a deal," Jauch said. "That's just an outrageous lie."

Walker may have unified the 14 Dems even more than they were before. [UPDATE: A WashPost writer

Their best response, perhaps, would be to offer again to negotiate, with a team that includes Miller and a couple of others.  Most of the Dem senators are putting out statements supporting negotiation and compromise, and offering to be part of a dialogue.  But they also need to let the GOP know they are unified and not undercutting Miller.

Speaking of being unified, it is hard to tell sometimes, from reading their public comments, whether they are talking to one another.  A daily conference call, with everyone dialing in for a caucus by phone, seems basic.  A single designated spokesperson, with a disciplined, consistent message could also dampen much of the daily rumor mill.  But asking electeds to give up media exposure is a tough sell.  I'd settle for everyone tallking daily and being on the same message.

The pressure right now should be on Walker and the Republicans.  There is no urgency.  Walker himself issued another phony deadline for action last Friday, and gave the Dems 15 more days.  Two other deadlines for bonding came and went and the sky apparently didn't fall.  So there is no reason for Democrats to be stampeded.

Two-thirds of the people want Walker to compromise.  As the days pass, that number is likely to get bigger, not smaller.  He's the one who should be feeling the pressure.  And he is.

What Walker really doesn't like about Mark Miller, it appears, is that he's too strong.  Walker's looking for a Dem who will roll over and play dead.

Biut the more he blusters like he did on Monday, the less likely he is to find one who will give him what he wants.


March 7, 2011 - 4:38pm