If one were to just listen to the campaign ads on radio, or the mindless ones on television, it is easy to come to the conclusion that there are no redeeming values to either of the two men running for Wisconsin Governor. Over and over these ads let us know there is apparently nothing good about either Tom Barrett or Scott Walker. If these guys are both so bad how did they ever get nominated?
Perhaps all the ads over the months have irked me more than I realize. I say this because as I read the Wisconsin State Journal at my kitchen table this morning two things stuck out like red flags waving from the ink. Amidst everything else stated in two separate articles it was the positive that made me pause and smile while drinking tea.
The first of those moments took place while reading a background piece on Democratic nominee Tom Barrett.
Barrett, 56, now lives about 100 yards from his childhood home — so close that, in winter with the trees bare, he can see it from the house he shares with his wife and their four children, Tommy, Annie, Erin and Kate.
He still belongs to his childhood parish, St. Sebastian Catholic Church. And he remains close to his three siblings, Mary, John and Betsy, all of whom live within three miles of each other.
I was struck by the fact he never strayed far from his roots, and the nostalgic fact he can see his boyhood home from his current residence hits all the right cords. The fact he talks with his siblings should make him more than prepared to deal with the legislature and all its quirks.
The second moment of real joy this morning came when I read the article on Scott Walker.
To Walker, it was an idyllic place. His father, Llew Walker, led the First Baptist Church of Delavan. His mother, Pat Walker, did the books for a department store and wrote a column for the local paper, the Delavan Enterprise.
“It was a fishbowl,” Walker said of growing up in the tight-knit community. “Everyone knew my father. And everywhere I went, they asked me to lead them in prayer. I was happy to do it, but I remember thinking at the time, ‘You know, this stuff isn’t osmosis.’”
Say what you will about Scott Walker, and I have said my share, but there are not too many teenagers or young people who would get asked to say a prayer. More often, as at the mall this week, it was more like turn down the cussing. Something must be tuned to the correct dial inside Walker.
As we wind this long and far-too-often nasty campaign down to the final days I am reminded we could have done far worse than the final two contenders for governor. We can, and will, argue the politics of the race. But in terms of electing a nice person I suspect we win either way.