Outrageous! Scandalous! A young spokesman for a major Wisconsin political party compares a politician to serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. And he's fired. No, wait. He's not fired. Instead, the spokesman goes on to become governor!
The party was Republican, the year was 1992 and the spokesman was a 24-year-old Scott Walker. Yes, that Scott Walker.
True, the politician whom Walker compared to Dahmer was an inexecrable racist, the one-time GOP candidate and Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. But bad as Duke's prejudiced views were, he was not a cannibalistic serial killer.
Never mind the distinction, though, because Walker was going all out in trying to shoot down Duke's attempt to get on that year's Wisconsin Republican presidential ballot. It's all on video, on the web (see link below). Debating Duke, Walker says, at one point:
"The key is, we feel that in particular you are hiding behind these issues that are legitimate issues, but do not necessarily make you a legitimate candidate, any more than in the city of Milwaukee, if Jeffrey Dahmer were to stand up and talk about family values, he’s not a legitimate candidate."
So: Is openly comparing a politician to Jeffrey Dahmer a firing offense? Not if you're Scott Walker.
Attacking Duke's credentials, Walker added that he and other Wisconsin Republicans "have moral problems with" Duke's background. As well they should have. Too bad Walker and his GOP enablers in the current state legislature have gone on to practice their own brand of sidelong racism -- a slow kind of racism, to be sure, but one hardly less deleterious to African Americans in Wisconsin than Duke's own anti-black agenda.
And don't overlook just how often in the years since that Walker himself has hidden his own real agenda behind legitimate public policy issues.
View the video and decide for yourself. But also note that when Walker's own PR director once championed an arguably racist statement, Walker pooh-poohed it and nothing else happened. This was when Walker was running for governor in 2010. While President Obama was in Milwaukee to campaign for Walker's opponent, Mayor Tom Barrett, Walker communications director Jill Bader re-tweeted a controversial message on the web.
The message originally came from a blog that linked to a video of African Americans night-club dancing to the song, "Ride the Train." The blog post pretended that the video was Obama's official response to Walker's opposition to high-speed rail. The same post also was shared around by another Walker staffer.
Democrats blasted the tweets as racial slurs. Bader removed her tweet, saying she thought she was, um, er, linking to something else. Yeah, that's the train ticket. Walker's campaign only issued a statement calling the communication director's tweet an "honest mistake" and said no more. Bader remains a well-connected Republican strategist.
Further chewing of the fat is to be found in an old Christian Schneider blog. In 2010, the future right-wing Milwaukee Journal Sentinel contributor used his personal blog to criticize Sen. Russ Feingold as corrupt, oddly complaining that a Republican legislator in another state was unfairly being linked to convicted GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff: "This," wrote Schneider, "is like saying that since Prince Fielder plays in Milwaukee, he must eat people like Jeffrey Dahmer. Oops, there's that cannibal guy again.
Moral: It's OK, if you're a Republican. But if you're trying to find the GOP soul train, expect instead to uncover another high-speed fail.