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Charlie Sykes: Sykes Writes

Our Churchill Moment

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The new Wisconsin Interest is out.. and you can read my post-recall "Dispatches" column here.


“A little Madness in the Spring,” observed Emily Dickinson, “is wholesome even for the King.” Wisconsin had more than a little madness, but maybe it was good for us as well.

As the Spring of the Endless Campaign evolved into the Summer of Perpetual Elections, the interminable tantrum turned from rallies and petitions to the main event: the recall of Gov. Scott Walker, who became the first governor ever to be elected twice for the same term.

Irresistibly, the mind turns to Winston Churchill’s observation that there is “nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at without result.”

Can you hear us now?

In November 2010, Walker defeated challenger Tom Barrett by six points. In June, he defeated him again, this time by an even wider margin.

As the distraught left struggled to make sense of the defeat, comedian Jon Stewart put the failed recall in perspective: “The people have spoken saying, ‘I’m sorry, you didn’t hear us the first time? Yeah, we said we liked the tyrant-y, union-busting guy. Like we said 16 months ago. So what the f***?’”

In a moment of harmonic convergence, the Democratic standard-bearer, Tom Barrett, was slapped in the face by a distraught supporter moments after he was slapped by voters for the third time.

If only the Teamsters…

Matthew Rothschild, editor of our bizarro-world sister publication The Progressive eschewed rationalization and spin, declaring Walker’s victory a “whupping.”
“After 16 months of the most historic and exciting citizens’ uprising that I’ve ever been a part of in my 35 years of progressive activism and journalism, we’re left with this disaster,” lamented Rothschild. “Scott Walker is governor for another two and a half years. He claims vindication for his rightist onslaught. The national right-wing media is carrying him around on their shoulders.”

In politics, as in life, the saddest words are “if only.”

For Rothschild, it all could have been so different if only the left had been more militant, more aggressive and more … creative. “The Teamsters with their 18 wheelers…,” he suggested, “could have driven down Interstate 90 and 94 at 45 mph all day long for a week’s time to demonstrate that workers in Wisconsin weren’t going to take this lying down.”

Because nothing wins hearts and minds as effectively as the gratuitous snarling of traffic.

Read the whole thing here.

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