Still flogging away, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Dan Bice can't seem to write enough about whether Rep. Tammy Baldwin has been sufficiently engaged in honoring 9/11 victims. Yes, it's true: The newspaper appears to think the biggest issue in Wisconsin's US Senate campaign is whether Baldwin voted yes -- or voted at all -- on each and every such resolution introduced in the House, irrespective of whether she was present. Oh, and Baldwin needs to be completely precise about this pressing issue any time she's asked, remembering how many of the ten or so such instances in which .... but you get the point.
His latest expose of Baldwin's presumably shameful behavior is covered by a headline that virtually shouts out, in case readers are unclear on the concept: Baldwin missed vote in 2009 on honoring 9/11 victims! Oh, the horror! The shame! Just how can the nation and our trembling democracy bear this kind of neglect!!? How can Baldwin live with herself after having to put up living with majority Republicans?
This isn't the first time Bice has, where Baldwin is concerned, engaged in a game of political Trivial Pursuit. Perhaps it is out of some need to appear fair and balanced after he has gone after Thompson for policy transgressions that actually matter to the body politic. In any event, Bice has begun to exhibit a Baldwin fetish that approaches her opponent's own preoccupation with trivia.
But at least in Tommy Thompson's case, there's method to the madness. He seeks to portray Baldwin as anti-patriotic because she doesn't always toe the line on symbolic issues that come to the floor. But more importantly because otherwise he's basically got no game.That's why the anti-Baldwin ads show her scowling and screeching. You're supposed to think she's a wicked witch, or some word that rhymes with witch. That and anti-American, dontcha know.
Of course the Republican-led House's many votes on its many feel-good but inconsequential 9/11 resolutions were designed as a gotcha game -- as when, for example, Republicans larded one of their many such resolutions with praise for horrible Bush-era policies like the Patriot Act. Which, by the way, was stringently opposed not only by Senate candidate Baldwin but also by former senator Russ Feingold.
What about substantive issues? What about climate change, for example? Could Bice possibly spare a couple of column inches to hold candiate feet to the fire on that one? Or how about budget votes in which Republicans, unlike Democrats, actually voted to cut programs serving Mideast war veterans, or aid to New York City after the 9/11 incident? Nope, no time or space for that; Tommy's charges (echoed endlessly in his campaign TV attacks) must be elaborated, embroidered and tied up in a neat, nice bow for all those undecided voters. Besides, it's more fun to play GOP Gotcha than to discuss, say, where the candidates stand on US foreign policy or national infrastructure investment.
The Journal Sentinel has announced it's no longer going to endorse political candidates (unless, perhaps, another recall election comes along). But there's no need for such endorsements anyway, given the newspaper's alternate outlets like the Bice column. By the way, that column is named "No Quarter," but lately its content amounts to about two bits of actually useful and meaningful information. Read it and weep: