By Tom Still
close to the toy industry has once again leaked a copy of Santa’s perks list
for Wisconsin politicians and newsmakers. Here’s what the good boys and girls
in Madison and Washington will reportedly find in their stockings this
Christmas. But they better not pout and they better not cry if an alert
district attorney asks why gifts were delivered down chimneys after midnight.
Gov. Scott Walker – Christmas came early for Walker when he won
his recall election in June, followed by steady improvement in the state
budget. So, what to get the governor who has everything? A refurbished kitchen
at the Executive Residence would add resale value to the state’s most elaborate
public housing, but the Walkers rarely bunk there. Better yet: A calculator to
sort out how many jobs the state has really added since he took office.
Leaders in the Wisconsin
Legislature – “Now Suder, now Larson,
now Darling, you vixen! On Big Fitz, on Barca, on Robin and Fred, who’s been
there since Nixon. To the top of the agenda! To the top of the wall! It’s
bipartisanship season for all.”
Former Gov. Tommy
Thompson – He won more
Republican votes than Walker in the recall, than Ronald Reagan in two
presidential runs, and than himself in any previous statewide race. So why did
TGT lose November’s U.S. Senate election to Tammy Baldwin? In addition to
Baldwin’s relentless ground game, the numbers suggest President Obama’s
end-of-campaign jaunts to Wisconsin energized thousands of new Democratic
voters. Thompson’s gift: Remembering that his legacy endures.
U.S. Sen. Ron
Johnson and U.S. Sen.-elect Baldwin – It’s hard to imagine two senators less alike than Baldwin,
one of the most liberal members of the House, and Johnson, a classic
tea-bagger. Santa will deliver a gift to bring them together: A bipartisan
potato sack for the three-legged race at next summer’s Senate picnic.
U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl – If ever there was someone who didn’t
need to prove himself in public office, it was Kohl. His career included
successful business endeavors, saving the Milwaukee Bucks, contributions to
education and countless acts of philanthropy. And yet, he served 24 years in
the Senate without once making the “naughty” list. His gift is to be remembered
as a moderating voice in intemperate times.
U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan – It’s back to reality for the Janesville
Republican, who served as Mitt Romney’s presidential running mate. No campaign
jets. No limos. Just shuttle flights into Washington and hailing his own cabs.
Then again, the chairman of the House Budget Committee happens to be
front-and-center in the debate over saving the nation from fiscal oblivion.
Ryan’s gift: To be a part of a solution that works – and sets the stage for
Kevin Kennedy – Santa’s gift to Kennedy, who runs the
state Government Accountability Board, is an odd-numbered year. No recall
elections, no general elections in the fall, just the relative calm of
non-partisan races in the spring. After the grueling 2012 election calendar, it
will seem like a tropical vacation.
coach Gary Andersen – Get
ready for culture shock, Coach. Santa is betting the student section at Utah
State rarely breaks into profanity-laced cheers or that Logan has anything that
resembles State Street at bar time. There’s plenty of time to worry about game
days, however. What Andersen needs now is a GPS device and a Wisconsin road map
so he can find those blue-chip recruits.
Both sides in
Wisconsin’s mining law debate – Last time around, the pro-mining forces shunned advice from
anyone familiar with northern Wisconsin and paid the price. This time
around, they’re still committing public-relations blunders but at least appear
to be listening. Santa would love to deliver a gift that includes jobs for the
North Woods, but it must come wrapped in the right protections for land and
For Wisconsin’s rising
political stars: In an era when sharp
personal attacks and partisanship drive more good people away from politics
than it attracts, it’s reassuring to know that some quality office-holders
continue to be attracted to public service. That’s a gift to Wisconsin
citizens. Happy holidays, everyone!