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Floyd Elliot Headshot

The Liberal Victory in Wisconsin

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I got an email the day after the Wisconsin recall election from one of those organizations that promotes liberal causes, asking me for money -- and I would just like to start out by saying, Jeez, organization that promotes liberal causes, don't you know that it's 2012, so I don't have any money? Really, there's only about 14 people left in the United States who do, and the rest of us sell them coupons and health insurance, and our marriageable daughters. To put it in Hunger Games terms, we're the Districts and they're the Capitol. We haven't started brutally killing each other for their amusement yet, but I'm thinking we could probably make a few changes to the National Hockey League rules that would fix that.

But I digress.

This email claimed that Wisconsin's failure to recall Governor Scott "Unions Are Between a Man And a Woman" Walker... was somehow "a step forward for progressives." After I did the requisite double take -- Wha? Huh? Wha? -- and also spit-take (my apologies to the guy who sits next to me at work; I really shouldn't have walked over to his desk specifically to do the spit-take, though I probably will again, probably sometime soon), I read the email again, just to make sure the words hadn't magically morphed into something that, you know, made any damn sense at all. I mean, doesn't a step forward generally involve in some way going, you know, forward, rather than staying in the same place or moving backward? Now, it's been a long time since I took a math class, but I'm pretty sure when your guy gets 45 percent of the vote and the other guy gets 54 percent, that's less going forward than getting knocked back and down and out, less of a victory than a bitter stinging defeat. Ah, but what do I know? I still think the new black is black. Seriously, you should see all the t-shirts in my closet; it's like 1996 in there.

We have to admit it: we on the left got our asses handed to us in Wisconsin. Sure, you can adduce the roughly $70 trillion that the GOP spent (okay, c'mon, raise your hand if you thought that was literally how much they spent) to keep union-busting annoying-voiced Scott Walker governor, or the well-financed campaign of disinformation, or the fact that it's Wisconsin. (Nice going, cheeseheads; this is exactly the kind of thing that makes people in Illinois despise you, plus, of course, the Packers.) All mitigating factors, true. But, when you're all done blathering and excusing, that thing in our hands? Is our ass. The Republicans handed it to us. Very nice of them. They could have just left it bleeding on the ground.

I don't understand the need to spin grave defeats as victories. Did Napoleon say after Waterloo, "Eh. Could have been worse"? Did Mrs. Lincoln say after the assassination, "Whatever. His beard hair kept clogging the drain"? Did Goldman Sachs say after their disastrous losses in the housing markets they created, "Who cares? The government will bail us out"?

Oh, yeah, they did. Sorry. Rhetoric... whosh! Just ran away from me there.

This whole recasting-of-reality business just reminds me of Saddam Hussein's press secretary, Muhammad Saeed al-Sahaf, who, even as the Iraqi Army was being destroyed by American forces, exclaimed at a press conference, "We are winning!" and also claimed that "the capital, especially the commandos, are getting ready to wipe them out". And a bonus quote: "Their forces committed suicide by the hundreds... The battle is very fierce and God made us victorious." (I miss that guy. I suspect he's probably working for Scott Walker now.) And really, it's not even necessary; if I were going to give money to the organization that sent that email (and I'm not, because I don't have any, except for what I earn stealing old ladies' Social Security checks and selling superfluous organs -- c.v. supra, in re it's 2012) (speaking of dispensable organs, just out of curiosity, your liver doesn't actually do anything, does it?) -- if I were intending to scrape the insides of my wallet for any residues of cash and send it off to that organization to make earnest and mostly-ignored commercials for Democrats, I'd be just as motivated by an appeal based on our side's desperation as by a desperate transformation of reality into a less-distressing-to-you-and-me form. Leave that to the professionals, guys; you're never going to do it as well as Fox News.