Republicans have dominated the Wisconsin legislature with abandon this year. It’s fun to watch in the same way watching Aaron Rodgers lead the Packers on an 80-yard, twelve minute scoring drive is satisfying and enjoyable.
In the same way, it’s amusing to watch Pete Carroll throw his headset on the ground and berate a referee because his team can’t stop the Packers offense — an image conjured last night on the Assembly floor by Democrat Rep. Peter Barca.
Indulging in an ostensible technicality quickly proven to be nonsense, Democrats across the board recused themselves from the vote on campaign finance law reform, reasoning that because their campaign committees would be affected, they could not in good conscience cast a vote. Some were more quiet than others. As Brian Sikma reports at Media Trackers,
The most eloquent critique of the campaign finance legislation came from state Rep. LaTonya Johnson, a Milwaukee Democrat, who was quoted by WisPolitics saying, “This bill sucks.”
(Sikma also very effectively and pointedly lays out four reasons “the collective Assembly Democratic temper tantrum was stupid. Read it here.)
The Democrat machine was buttoned up; each legislator used a similarly and carefully-worded statement of recusal, invoking Statute 19.46, along the lines of “I must recuse myself because of the self interest this bill provides for me and members of this body,” or some variation thereof.
Recusal means not casting a vote and not participating in the debate.
This caused a problem when Barca interrupted Speaker Robin Vos’ floor speech. (Vos, by the way, gave a magnificent and sassy performance as the party’s leader in the Assembly last night.) When you recuse yourself, that’s it, you’re done. Finito. Vos casually made this point to Barca, who didn’t stop there.
Minutes later, Barca barked his anger at Speaker Pro Tem Tyler August for not yielding to his lunatic ravings.
“You ask somebody to yield to a question, you recognize them,” he declared (I think … the part before “yield to a question” was mumbled). “So don’t pull that on me again! I have every right to stand up when a member is speaking and ask him to yield to a question.” It was childish and embarrassing, characteristic only of a leader in liberal circles, where vein-popping faux-outrage rules the day.
Barca is the master of overwrought hyperbole, the portrait of bleeding-heartism, and the perfect leader for Democrat legislators in Wisconsin right now. In his book, any conservative reform or advancement is, to borrow a phrase, a traveshamockery.
It’s one thing for a fringe, rogue member of the party to maybe take a principled stand, the kind of thing Russ Feingold would do here and there in the US Senate. When the party leader spearheads the initiative, something has gone terribly wrong in the process of representative government. Yet it’s always Democrats accusing Republicans of tyranny.
Barca makes for a good attack dog in liberal circles, but he’s useless as an elected representative. His leadership speaks to the state of politics in this state and the Democrat Party of Wisconsin’s manifest inability to accomplish anything meaningful when they can’t ram it through without opposition. No wonder they hate Scott Walker so much: he’s smarter than they are at just about everything. Perhaps their Republican counterparts would take them more seriously if they didn’t pull impish stunts like refusing to vote or fleeing the state to avoid doing their jobs.
It’s a good thing the Packers have a bye this week. The entertainment value otherwise might’ve been overwhelming.