(Speaking of Witch Hunts . . . ) Candidate Mary Burke Endures the Trial of the Trail

Mary Burke
By WisPolitics.com (Flickr: Mary Burke) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Though the real news was that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke had just been endorsed by the largest police union in Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s online headline said, “Mary Burke stumbles when asked to define plagiarism”. As if the shock of the question caused her to lose her balance, thus betraying her pact with the devil. Or was the headline suggesting that Burke doesn’t know what plagiarism is? Or was the headline merely meant to make fun of her?

Local journalists, always eloquent and seldom prone to misplacing commas or modifiers, have apparently grown bored with watching various courts play Ping-Pong with genuine Republican improprieties, called “witch hunts” by the faithful. Objectivity  demands some juicy Democratic slip-up to tell readers about, so this charge of plagiarism concerning a Pennsylvania-based consultant became big news. Digging for signs of political witchcraft in Burke’s consultant-created jobs plan, the Journal Sentinel turned loose its conservative columnist and objective reporters to get to the bottom of a rather shallow story, finding it hard to accept Burke’s explanation that the consultant did the actual composing of the plan.

Christian Schneider, in a recent column, says “catastrophe struck” when “reports surfaced” that Mary Burke’s jobs plan was ghost-written by a computer-using ghost. (Boo!) Furthermore, Schneider equates personal, intentional plagiarism with the mistaken, careless sort and then writes as if Burke’s jobs plan was some kind of personally written research paper. We can blame Burke’s campaign for trusting a distant consultant to put together the candidate’s jobs plan (which is probably common), but we can’t blame Burke or her campaign for the exact wording of it.

The Journal Sentinel Editorial Board also weighed in on “Mary Burke’s cribbing problem”, another headline with inaccuracy/false implication problems. While blaming Burke’s campaign for sloppiness and passing the plan off as “her own thinking” (term paper, again), the editors do have the decency to point out the “faux outrage” of Republicans, most of whose political notions come out of a few think tanks paraphrasing the fortunately fictional work of Ayn Rand.

Being a feminist or, if you prefer, a gentleman, I get the feeling that Burke’s political opponents are trying to tar her as an untrustworthy oddball– an unmarried, snowboarding witch who is using her dark arts to come out of nowhere to threaten the political reign of the wholesome preacher’s son, Scott Walker. Somehow, the implication is, Burke must be cheating, for how else to explain her magical rise to political credibility?

But the explanation for Burke’s success so far is plain– while not a raging progressive (raging progressives do not become wealthy corporate executives), she is enlightened enough to understand that under libertarian government the rich tend to get richer and everyone else poorer, that women, children and minorities are given short shrift, and that nature is just a bank to be legally robbed. After four years of Wisconsin’s “tea party” experiment, the state is starting to get uneasy with the drift of things, especially in some rural parts of the state, where “factory farms” proliferate and poverty grows.

If enough women, minorities, disenchanted rural/middle class voters and college students get to the polls on Nov. 4th, Burke is in and Walker is out, which will put a stop to the signing of bad bills until such time that Wisconsin rediscovers its progressive gumption and passes some good ones. Otherwise, if Walker wins again, we endure our trials again, at least until he wanders off to play his part in a new work of libertarian fiction.

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