Two liberal editorialists are letting the liberals have it over their tactics in the Wisconsin battle against new Gov. Scott Walker. In a Washington Post piece posted on Saturday, editorial writer Charles Lane excoriates fellow liberals:
This is hypocrisy on an epic scale. I can't think of a more overwhelming refutation of the claim that incivility is the unique province of the American right -- as opposed to what it really is and always has been: a two-way street with both right and left lanes. No wonder so many Americans in the broad center of the political spectrum are turned off by both parties and their sanctimonious "bases."
Lane also praised the Friday critique of Time's Joe Klein. Lane wrote that just weeks after the president's calming words about civility in the wake of the Tucson shootings there's this:
.... anger and vilification are once again the order of the day -- and the incivility emanates from the progressive end of the spectrum, including, no doubt, many of the same people who blamed right-wing vitriol for creating a climate of violence in Arizona. Union-backed demonstrators, furious at Republican Gov. Scott Walker's plans for reining in public-sector unions, equate him with Hosni Mubarak and Adolf Hitler, in disgusting mimickry of some Tea Party members' inflammatory linkage between Obama and the evil dictators of history. (See Photo no. 10 in this gallery) or Photo 13 in this gallery .
Meanwhile, progressive voices in the media fanned the flames, spreading misinformation and outright falsehoods with a zest that would make Glenn Beck blush: Gov. Walker wants to crush unions with the National Guard; he manufactured a budget crisis to justify his attack on unions; he proposed cutting union workers' pay 20 percent. Neutral sources have debunked it all, but as far as I know only Ezra Klein among these tribunes of truth has seen fit to correct the record.
And, of course, thousands of teachers have abandoned their classrooms to join a boisterous crowd intimidating and obstructing the elected state legislature in Madison -- in scenes reminiscent of the Tea Party's mobbing of Democrats on Capitol Hill during the health-care debate...
Perhaps most disappointing of all is that the president himself, rather than living up to the words he spoke so eloquently in Tuscon, has chosen to fuel the fury on the Great Lakes. He labeled Walker's legislation "an assault on unions," while the White House political operation bused in more demonstrators to join those waving Walker = Hitler placards. These are the words and deeds of a partisan politician, not a national leader.
If the brave Gabrielle Giffords could speak normally, what would she say about these events? I hope she would agree with me: This is a sad moment for liberalism, for the Democratic Party, and, really, for the whole country.
On Time's Swampland blog on Friday, Joe Klein decried a "Hemlock Revolution" in the Badger State:
Revolutions everywhere--in the middle east, in the middle west. But there is a difference: in the middle east, the protesters are marching for democracy; in the middle west, they're protesting against it. I mean, Isn't it, well, a bit ironic that the protesters in Madison, blocking the state senate chamber, are chanting "Freedom, Democracy, Union" while trying to prevent a vote? Isn't it ironic that the Democratic Senators have fled the democratic process? Isn't it interesting that some of those who--rightly--protest the assorted Republican efforts to stymie majority rule in the U.S. Senate are celebrating the Democratic efforts to stymie the same in the Wisconsin Senate?
An election was held in Wisconsin last November. The Republicans won. In a democracy, there are consequences to elections and no one, not even the public employees unions, are exempt from that. There are no guarantees that labor contracts, including contracts governing the most basic rights of unions, can't be renegotiated, or terminated for that matter. We hold elections to decide those basic parameters. And it seems to me that Governor Scott Walker's basic requests are modest ones--asking public employees to contribute more to their pension and health care plans, though still far less than most private sector employees do. He is also trying to limit the unions' abilities to negotiate work rules--and this is crucial when it comes to the more efficient operation of government in a difficult time. When I covered local government in New York 30 years ago, the school janitors (then paid a robust $60,000 plus per year) had negotiated the "right" to mop the cafeteria floors only once a week. And we all know about the near-impossibility of getting criminal and morally questionable--to say nothing of less than competent--teachers fired. The negotiation of such contracts were acts of collusion rather than of mediation. Government officials were, in effect, bribing their most activist constituents.