I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part!
-- Otter (Tim Matheson), Animal House
By now you've likely heard that some lefty prankster got Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker on the phone by pretending to be Mortimer Duke or something. I'm sorry, I had the wrong evil zillionaire brother. It was apparently David Koch, whom I fondly recall as a stalwart right tackle for the Green Bay Packers teams of the late 1970s and early 1980s. No, I'm sorry, I got that wrong. That's Greg Koch. David Koch is a zillionaire industrialist plutocrat who apparently is evil because he and his brother Sparky give money to Republican candidates, including Scott Walker.
Do I have that last part right? I guess Koch's brother isn't named Sparky. But it really doesn't matter. The point is this -- the brothers Koch are apparently shadowy figures who own the tea party lock, stock and barrel. They also own the right-wing blogosphere and, apparently, the mortal soul of Scott Walker. And until about two years ago, I'd never heard of either of them.
Why would that be? Well, Koch Industries is privately held and they don't put their brand name on that many things. I have not pursued a career in the businesses that Koch maintains. We have a company here in Minnesota that is quite similar, Cargill, which until the last five years never curried much attention in the news media. There are probably people out there who think that Cargill is evil, too, but as long as the McMillan and Whitney families stick to their knitting and ocean-going vessels filled with orange juice concentrate, they'll probably not draw too much fire. And, as always, I do appreciate the lefties letting me know who Emanuel Goldstein is this week.
As it happens, Walker took that phone call from a prankster who pretended to be David Koch. The call was recorded and has been bouncing around all day. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has helpfully provided a transcript, which you can read here. Of course, I do have a few thoughts.
First, I would be curious what the David Koch has to say about all this -- although I understand he favors libertarian causes, I somehow suspect he wouldn't refer to Mika Brzezinski as a real "piece of ass." Walker didn't bite on that provocation, of course. Hell, for that matter I wonder what Mika Brzezinski thinks of it. The one thing you can always count on from lefties is very casual, off-hand sexism, in the service of a greater good, of course. But I'm sure Mika is reassured that her looks can be used as a cudgel with which to belabor benighted midwestern politicians.
So what does it mean, really? Not much, I'd say. There's no "smoking gun" in the transcript that makes Walker into the Snidely Whiplash type that some folks imagine him to be. In fact, what's striking about it is how "on message" Walker remains throughout the call. Other than saying he'd "thought about" some false flag operations, which he (a) did not carry out and (b) reveals to someone carrying a false flag, or that there was a plan afoot to have the prodigal donks return for a meeting as a ruse to get a quorum call, there's nothing especially nefarious.
And what do these lukewarm revelations really do to change the needle? Not much, I'd say. The bottom line is that Walker's opponents are still in a very weak position. Walker doesn't have to compromise at all. Walker is also likely correct that if the hidin' Senate Dems have been accepting any money from outside sources to fund their little escapade, they'll have to answer to J. B. Van Hollen, the Wisconsin attorney general. That's not going to go well for them, either. They will have to come home. When they do, the vote will take place and Walker will get everything he wants. And the circus will move on to Ohio.
The conservative commentator Mary Katherine Ham put it quite well today:
“Between prank calls & running squealing from confrontation, it’s unclear whether left wants to make policy or attend my 12th bday party.”
That's about it. Fear not, though, fevered portsiders -- here in Minnesota, Brave Sir Mark Dayton will protect the public employee unions, all the way through June, at least.