23 February 2011

Idiot of the Week: Wisconsin and environs

The Wisconsin controversy pitting the Republican administration against the state's public-employee unions and their Democratic allies probably looks like an idiocy magnet whatever your political or ideological vantage point. From a Republican perspective, the Madison protesters are idiots, or worse, for abandoning their duties to the public in defense of indefensible privileges, while those who see Gov. Walker's campaign as a prelude to a nationwide attack on all unions probably seem just as idiotic. But at the Think 3 Institute we don't usually recognize general idiocy. We prefer instead to focus on extraordinary acts or utterances that would appear idiotic regardless of your partisan perspective. When it comes to Wisconsin, those acts are on the Republican side.

Earlier today I might have named Gov. Walker himself for allowing himself to make unguarded, impolitic comments to a prank caller who had convinced the chief executive that he was one of the Koch brothers. By any objective standard, however, Walker must take second place, at best, to an outsider who has lost his job for making even more outrageous comments on the controversy. Our winner is Jeff Cox, a former deputy attorney general of Indiana who was sacked after he was identified as the author of "tweets" advocating the use of "live ammo" and "deadly force" against the Madison demonstrators. Mr. Cox apparently believed that his suggestions were an appropriate answer to the "Saul Alinsky tactics" employed by the protesters. He was convinced that the demonstrators had threatened physical violence against Republican legislators in Madison -- and I don't doubt, passions being what they've been -- that he was right. But it's one thing, however reprehensible, for a disgruntled state worker to mutter threats, and something of another order entirely for a deputy attorney general to advocate the violent repression of a citizen protest. That I expect from Libya, not Indiana -- and since Col. Khadafi probably needs all the help he can get right now, I suspect that Cox may not go without a job for long.

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