February 27, 2008

Song of the vulgar boatmen

Learned counsel Michael B. Plaisted, as is his occasional and demure custom, puts pen to paper further to the recent news that the Milwaukee chapter of the Federalist Society has engaged CRC Public Relations, the Alexandria, VA firm that helped bring us the term "swiftboating."

CRC (which stands for "Creative Response Concepts") apparently is to become involved in at a minimum ancillary aspects of the current election campaign between incumbent Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler and Burnett County Judge Michael Gableman.

As Mr. Plaisted notes, Milwaukee lawyer Don Daugherty, Jr. admits that he and at least three of his Fed Soc associates "can be fairly accused of wanting to 'swiftboat' (or, as I prefer, to 'bork') the WJCIC." The WJCIC is the Wisconsin Judicial Campaign Integrity Committee, comprised of State Bar president Tom Basting and several other community leaders and the subject of considerable and even reckless commentary of late.

Needless to say, Counsellor Plaisted's perceptive memorandum is required reading not only for Butler/Gableman campaign junkies but also for all who appreciate incisive political writing.

Dedicated followers of your present correspondent may recall the mini-kerfuffle that ensued over this post, which caused Rick Esenberg of Marquette Law School to spring to the defense of Daugherty et al for what Esenberg perceived to be "smears" launched by its originating author, Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

It was almost as if Daugherty et al had been, er, swiftboated.

At the time, I considered the observation "interesting" to be the understatement of the month, and that anybody who didn't find the news that the MKE Fed Soc had hired the original swiftboaters to get involved in a Wisconsin election campaign "interesting" had to have been dwelling under a massive boulder for the past five years.

And, as it turns out, this is not the first time the Federalist Society — which is a national outfit and numbers among its illustrious fraternity not only the aforementioned Prof. Robert Bork but the oft-celebrated evolutionary biologist Ann Coulter — has enlisted the kind assistance of CRC Public Relations.

Last year, a Missouri contingent of Fed Soc operatives retained CRC to lobby for the restructuring of that State's judiciary. As Roy Temple of Fired Up! Missouri wrote in August,
Allies of [Republican] Governor Matt Blunt are bankrolling a campaign to "Swift Boat" Missouri's Non-Partisan Court Plan and replace it with a system where politicians pick judges. And they have enlisted in that effort a PR firm that specializes in hatchet jobs just like the one they are currently committing on Missouri's Non-Partisan Court plan. * * *

No doubt, the folks behind this effort are hoping Missouri ends up with a system where the Chamber of Commerce bankrolls Supreme Court campaigns and elects judges who will ensure that the interests of average citizens will no longer get a hearing in Missouri courts.
That sounds vaguely familiar, doesn't it? It should, not least because our own Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce has since put to use "statistical data" of dubious provenance and ginned up by Chamber of Commerce affiliate Sequoyah Information Systems, Inc., for the purpose of attacking Justice Butler politically.

The gravy thickens, as they say, and in the meantime the Milwaukee Federalists have scheduled a "Lluncheon" (perhaps they're serving Welsh rarebit) for March 11 featuring — quelle surprise — Richard Esenberg of Marquette Law School.


Terrence Berres said...


Tthanks, fixed that.

illusory tenant said...

You're wwelcome.