Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Art of Compromise

Old Diamond Jim is a through-and-through politician. He knows his way around a deal, and like so many politicians, makes my old pal Mark Belling look like a real man of his word. In case you haven’t heard, the fiery right-wing talk show host who decamped from Madison years ago and now holds forth on the Milwaukee airwaves is now waffling on a promise to vote for Doyle, based on that fifty-to-one shot that won the Kentucky Derby.

Mark picks his topics far better than he handicaps the ponies.

Diamond Jim pushed for, and apparently got a state-wide smoking ban, but being the politician that he is, he knew compromise was unavoidable. One of the first deals cut involved the date the state-wide ban would kick in. It was something like 14 months out, July 2010, to give the poor taverns and restaurants “time to gear up for it”. They wanted to push it even farther back.

The latest bolt-out-of-the-blue from the Capital was talk of exempting American Legion clubs from the ban. What? Did a bunch of those clowns that work at the top of State Street go and see Gran Torino? What’s this world comin’ to if Clint and his old army pals can’t light up in their own clubhouse?

We’d already heard that Diamond Jim was going to give his tribal pals a pass on the ban, so we can light-up willy-nilly while pulling the levers up at Ho-Chunk or over at DeJope. Until this American Legion thing came up yesterday, that would have left the tribes with a monopoly on gambling AND smoking!

As a politician, the guv thinks he gets to pick and choose which parts of the state constitution he’s going to support and defend. His smoking ban logic was to avoid a “patchwork of laws” enacted by various communities. This is the same guy who just said each municipality ought to be able to enact its own firearms laws.

I don’t like it when politicians or bureaucrats push things “because neighboring states have them” or “because we’re above (or below)” some neighboring state or institution. Sorta like Biddy’s twisted thinking on making the UW-Madison more affordable by raising tuition.

But it’s logic on a case-by-case basis for the guv, who’s also pushing for sobriety checkpoints in Wisconsin. Why? Because a dozen other states have them. It won’t come as news to Diamond Jim that 48 other states allow concealed carry. But he won’t talk about that.

Politics is the art of compromise. But we’re dealing here with the guv and 132 other players who’ve been known to deal from the bottom of the deck. It’s like the old radio broadcasters saying: “They listen only to WII-FM….What’s In It For Me”.

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