Dec 25, 2011

Secret Fracture between Tommy Thompson and Scott Walker Shows Moderate-Extremist Split in GOP

Scott Walker
Ruth Conniff has an important story in the Huffington Post [and The Progressive] that is easy to miss during the holidays.

Scott Walker's corrupt and no-compromise approach to ruling (and not governing in a representative democracy) has Republicans from the Tommy Thompson days disgusted with Walker.

When Thompson was governor, he was known to take offense if anyone questioned his commitment to public schools and support for the UW System. But Walker is a different type of Republican: Slash-and-burn, violate civil rights; and so corrupt, Tommy Thompson appears a William Proxmire by comparison.

Paul Fanlund writes in the Capital Times: "The recall is not about public employees nor is it about politics as usual. It is about Walker's toxic brand of political fundamentalism -- heartless and historically unprecedented -- that should repel fair-minded, mainstream voters everywhere."


Even Walker knows the gig is up, as he hits the holiday air waves with his wife talking about "peace" in a new awkwardly acted spot.

Writes Kirsten Boyd Johnson: "The most comical part is that this is the best that Scott Walker can do even though he has been outspending his recall organizer opponents four to one in the contest so far."

An excerpt from Conniff's piece:

As the political crisis was brewing in Wisconsin last winter, Governor Scott Walker rebuffed former governor Tommy Thompson's advice to reach a compromise with public employee unions, according to a state senator as well as a friend of Thompson's who was involved in the political drama at the time.

"Tommy was beside himself that Walker was so dogmatic,' says the friend. 'We had lots of conversations about this--about how it was going to do nothing but cause chaos, and it was bad for the state. Businesses aren't going to move here in the middle of all this conflict."

Thompson, along with other moderate Republicans, reached out to Walker, the friend says, and urged him to sit down with union leaders and seek a compromise before Walker pushed through a law curtailing public employees' collective bargaining rights -- the issue that sparked mass protests and the state's first ever recall campaign against a governor.

"After a certain point, Walker quit taking Tommy's phone calls," the friend says. "I think Tommy was giving him advice he didn't want to hear."

Democratic State Senator Bob Jauch says that during the crisis, after he and 13 other state Democrats had fled the state to stall a vote on the collective bargaining issue, he spoke with former officials in Tommy Thompson's administration who said Thompson was trying to persuade Walker to reach a deal. "I heard it from three different people who talked to him," says Jauch.

Jauch also describes a recent meeting with Thompson at a memorial service for the president of the Wisconsin Capitol Correspondents Association, Dick Wheeler:

"I said, 'Tommy, you and I could have solved this whole thing over a cup of coffee.'" Jauch says. "Tommy put his hands on my shoulders and said, 'Bob, it would have been a pot of coffee, but absolutely we could have solved it.' "
See Conniff's entire piece.

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