Wineke: Thompson’s GOP Successors Are Trashing His Legacy

By Bill Wineke Special to Channel 3000

Republican state Sen. Scott Fitzgerald says he likes being around his own kind of people.

Speaking at the annual convention of the Republican Party of Wisconsin in Wisconsin Dells over the weekend, the senate majority leader announced, “It’s been a long time since I’ve been around this many people who weren’t chanting and yelling, sometimes at me. And I also got to tell you, you all smell a lot better, too.”

Which makes one start to wonder . . . aren’t even Republicans starting to get embarrassed by this bantam rooster?

I’ll admit, he might be right. I don’t go around sniffing Republicans. Maybe they do smell better than teachers and firefighters and prison guards. And, maybe Republicans do smell better than students and police officers and park rangers.

What I do know is that week after week as many as 100,000 Wisconsin residents came to the state Capitol, stood through snow, rain and freezing cold to protest the policies Scott Fitzgerald tried to sneak into law in the dead of night.

And I know what he thinks of those teachers and firefighters, prison guards, police officers, students and park rangers. He thinks they smell bad.

Yes, I know. He was trying to make a joke. The trouble is that it is the kind of joke one expects to hear late at night in a seedy bar; it is not the kind of joke one expects to hear from the leader of the state Senate. Not, at any rate, if he actually hopes to keep his party in power.

But that’s what we’ve come to in Wisconsin.

We’ve got an ignorant bully preening in front of 1,000 delegates, who also cheered the other Fitzgerald, Jeff, when he boasted of defunding Planned Parenthood, an action that will deprive thousands of poor Wisconsin women of basic health care and which will prevent not one, single abortion.

Honest to God, what is the matter with these people?

I keep wondering what, in the secret of his heart, does former Gov. Tommy Thompson think when he sees things like this?

The legacy Gov. Scott Walker and the brothers Fitzgerald are bringing down is, after all, Tommy Thompson’s legacy. Former Gov. Jim Doyle made some trims along the edges, but the essential governing policy of Wisconsin is Tommy Thompson’s policy and his successors are trashing it.

If you don’t believe me, here’s one item of difference: Tommy actually won the votes of the people Scott Fitzgerald thinks smell bad.

Do you know what’s even worse: This kind of thing is catching.

If you are one of those crazy people who watch cable news shows, you may have seen images of the Senate passing the voter suppression act last week as Senate President Mike Ellis shouted down protests by Democratic Sen. Fred Risser, who has served in the Legislature for a half century.

Now, I don’t know Ellis personally, but we have many mutual friends, including one of my brothers. They all tell me Ellis is a really good guy. So, who was this madman in sunglasses screaming at an 84-year-old colleague?

Actually, I think I do know what’s happening. The people now running this state are doing shameful things and they don’t know how to stop without losing face. They are embarrassed and they should be. So, they act badly.

But the rest of us get to pay the price for this madness.