February 16, 2008

McIlheran voices support for Soglin, Butler

Patrick McIlheran, the self-described "generally right-wing guy" who composes comedy routines for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, posted this little puzzler the other day: The Gall! In it, McIlheran observes that bloggin' Mayor Soglin and others picketed the Madison HQ of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce on Wednesday.

As readers of this here blog are well aware, WMC and its fellow travelers are engaged in a suspicious and empirically-challenged negative political campaign against Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler on altruistic behalf of the cash-strapped Michael Gableman, the Burnett County Judge who has himself leveled a number of preposterous claims at the sitting Justice.

McIlheran's perfunctory two-paragraph burlesque contains links to two items, one a brief report of the picket, and the other a 2005 editorial by McIlheran's beloved Wall Street Journal brain trust. It's not entirely clear what McIlheran's point is, but since it's filled with faux outrage and labeled "First Amendment," presumably he was writing in support of Soglin and Co.'s constitutional rights to freedom of speech and peaceable assembly. Indeed, McIlheran's own link notes the pickets were meant to "draw attention to [WMC's] funding of political ads."

The WSJ editorial, "Alabama North," which purports to critique two of Justice Butler's opinions (one of which he didn't write), is also a favorite of WMC propagandists as well as WMC video star Rick Esenberg, who cites it in his celebrated Federalist Society paper, "A Court Unbound?" ("A Court Unbound," by remarkable coincidence, is WMC's theme for its World Breakfast Tour, which brings its tasty flapjacks to flip in Green Bay next Friday.)

Ever the lovable zany, McIlheran, in the space of about four sentences, manages to describe the two decisions — which together run nearly 350 pages — as a "whim."

As the WSJ noted in August, 2005, "GOP Congressman Mark Green is already making this part of his campaign for Governor, while Democratic Governor Jim Doyle has yet to make a firm public statement." And as Justice Butler's attackers are tirelessly fond of reminding us, Louis Butler lost his electoral bid for the Supreme Court in 2000, and is seated there now only by dint of his 2004 appointment by Governor Doyle.

The implications being that Butler is merely a political appointment, and that the people of Wisconsin don't really want him there, because when presented the opportunity in 2000, they declined the invitation. What WMC and its surrogates are less likely to tell you, of course, is that the aforementioned SeƱor M. Green lost his own election bid to Doyle in 2006, in spite of his desperate attempts to make Justice Butler an issue.

So this was McIlheran's project after all, to show that WMC's hoary talking point is proven to be not only just a wash, but it's been positively superseded by more recent polling data in demonstration of the fact that the 2006 election of Governor Doyle was also a popular endorsement of Justice Butler.

You really have to keep a close eye on these conservative columnists, they can be a pretty sneaky bunch. And since the impending State Supreme Court election is nominally a non-partisan affair, even the support for Butler voiced by a dependable GOP mouthpiece like Patrick McIlheran is legitimate. That alone is a refreshing change.

[Please visit the iT Butler/Gableman archive.]

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