Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Scott Walker and That Courage Claim

By Bert
The fact it is silly has not stopped Gov. Scott Walker from calling himself courageous for well past a year now. Here he is, to take one example, in a speech to the CPAC convention in February: “In times of crisis, what’s made this country great is the fact that there have been men and women of courage," Walker said.  Vainglorious, much?

A funny example, like he's Helen Keller or something, from is a post entitled “Courage: The Scott Walker Story”. Talking points in the vast right-wing echo chamber go on and on and on. So the google is full of this Walker and courage thing. But does repeating it make it so?

These claims of heroic valor – spin, really – rest mainly on the surprise attack Walker and his GOP allies sprung on teachers and other public employees, but even more so on the enormous push-back that it provoked, and which they did not expect. They screwed up in not seeing this coming, and now spinmeisters want to – jujitsu-style – make a blemish into a badge of honor.

The union-attacking actions taken by the state’s GOP led by Walker were not as remarkable as the extent of the open field the party members suddenly found themselves operating on. It was a historic political turn in the election of November 2010 that delivered a Republican governor and both houses of the legislature to Republicans. Walker could also feel emboldened by devoted allies in the state Supreme Court, and by eager collaborators in radio stations, “think tanks”, and web-sites.

They thought they had us right where they wanted us. And they had been waiting – pining really – for this chance.

The fact they were reckless – demanding passage three days after announcing a death sentence to viable unions, threatening National Guard deployments, exempting their allies in Milwaukee’s police and fire union – cannot be retroactively airbrushed into courage.

These doubts about Walker’s self-portrait of valor came back to me a couple of weeks ago as I was watching the movie “My Week With Marilyn”. It’s about that Marilyn, the platinum starlet who epitomizes seductive beauty for most men, and Monroe’s bond that she forms with a novice peon assistant on the set of a movie she made called The Prince and the Showman. The assistant, Colin, is a reserved but nonetheless red-blooded heterosexual man not yet 20. So in one scene during his week with Marilyn the two are alone in the countryside. She has been flirty all day. Then that moment happens when she takes off all her clothes and walks gloriously down into a pond’s water to swim. The young man does not hesitate an instant. He too strips and jumps in the water.

I mean, who wouldn’t? When presented with the highest apex of your desire, when not too long ago it was only a dream and seemingly unattainable, and then in a moment when all obstacles to living that dream are no where in sight, you can’t blame a guy for trying. But it was not a dignified act and not heroic either. Colin might be bold, in the way intense desires such as lust or vengeance or greed can propel rash actions. But he was closer to reckless than to courageous.

Wisconsin’s GOP, cynical hate-filled old hands joined by brand-new eager beavers, could not believe their luck when they arrived in 2010. What happened next was not brave nor heroic. They did what they thought they could get away with, all in order to give themselves what they always wanted.

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