In the first minute of Friday night’s Wisconsin gubernatorial recall debate I was reminded of something that happened in 1979.
Roger Mudd was seated with Senator Ted Kennedy for an interview, and asked what seemed like a most obvious question. Senator, why do you want to be president? Instead of a firm and convincing response Kennedy offered a weak and hollow series of sentences.
The first question of the Wisconsin debate went to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, and was one of those obvious ones that a candidate should be prepared to blast out of the ballpark. Basically, why are Wisconsin voters here in another election less than half-way through the first term of the sitting governor?
Since this recall election is about the undermining of the process of government due to a partisan power play by conservative Scott Walker, one might assume some tough words might have been employed to make that point.
Instead Barrett repeated his points about a divided state, and used the term ‘civil war’, but failed to connect the dots and drive home the message for the average viewer at home about the reasons a recall election is taking place.
I do not want to hear about job creation or how neighbors do not speak to each other based on policy differences. While these matters are important the fact that we are racing towards history with this recall means higher ideals about government along with the process used in the Capitol should be front and center.
I am not sure why it is so difficult for the Democratic nominee to make the case over and over about the process being misused in the statehouse in order to pass the collective bargaining bill. That is, after all, why this recall is taking place.
We are not at this state of affairs over education dollars or health care. Those are matters that get debated every two years at election time, and will make for headlines when the next regular governor’s race gets underway.
This recall election is unique by design, and needs to be treated as such by the candidate wishing to replace Walker.
I never got the feeling that Barrett wished to drive the message home during the debate. The governing process should be front and center when it comes to this recall election. Walker over-reached on a bill that he never addressed in the general election in 2010, and then used tactics that ran counter to the way the process normally operates in a bid to get it passed.
The reason for this recall is not about John Doe probes, or education, or crime rates. How difficult is it for this point to sink in, and how far away from victory must Democrats be before they understand this?
Since Walker was not pushed back into the fence during the debate, and was able to continue his narrative for this race, there is no other way to judge the outcome of the debate except to score it a win for Walker.
There is a need for something to shake this dismal race up, but I do not see anything happening that will alter the outcome of Walker winning. At this time I think it very probable that Walker wins by a larger margin then he did when defeating Barrett the first time.