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Bob Wirch's Payoff

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The latest drama among Wisconsin's senate Democrats brings to mind one of the more memorable lines from "A Man for All Seasons." Sir Thomas More confronts a man who has betrayed him after he was bought off with the Attorney Generalship of Wales.

 "Why Richard,," More says to him, "it profit a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world. . . but for Wales!”  

We now know that Senator Bob Wirch broke his promise to vote for Senator Jon Erpenbach as minority leader. Instead, Wirch cast his ballot for "Sticky Fingers" Chris Larson, who won the coveted post by a single vote.

We also now know the price.

Larson rewarded Wirch's betrayal with a seat on the Joint Finance Committee, paying him off with the spot now held by Senator Lena Taylor.  As a result, there will be no African-Americans on the committee for the first time in years.

So let's review:

Bob Wirch wanted that committee seat so badly that he was willing to lie to one of his own colleagues.

Larson want the minority leader's job so badly he was willing to buy the vote by kicking an African American off the joint finance committee.

Wirch sacrificed his integrity and his reputation; Larson threw one of the party's most loyal constituencies under the bus.

And for what?

The opportunity to be outvoted on virtually every major issue that will come before the senate. Larson and Wirch were scrambling for scraps.

Which is arguably, even worse than selling your soul for Wales.

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