Friday, February 17, 2012

The Governor’s News Letter

The Governor’s e-newsletter arrived today. I’m not sure if they are intended to be weekly missiles, or if they’ll continue after the recall election if he retains his office, but it is something to look forward to regularly now.

The most interesting feature of each letter occurs at the end when he answers a question submitted by one of the recipients of his e-news letter. Here is the exchange from the most recent letter:

Just Ask the Governor: Part V

Each e-update I will answer a question submitted by a recipient of the previous e-update or from someone who contacts my office directly. 

Question: Why did you choose to greet President Obama?

Answer: This week President Obama visited Wisconsin for the first time in about a year. The White House reached out to my office earlier this week and invited me to welcome the President to Wisconsin. 

I have the utmost respect for the Office of the President of the United States. 

I’ve used these opportunities to greet the President to share a few small pieces of Wisconsin sports with him. The last time President Obama came to Wisconsin I gave him a Packers jersey, this time I gave him his own Brewers jersey that had “Obama 1” printed on it.

I was also pleased that the President highlighted two companies we worked with during the past year to create jobs in Wisconsin.  I worked closely with the City of Wausau to bring Collaborative Consulting to our state.  The President also mentioned Diamond Precision Products, another company our administration worked with to help them grow in our state.

Four things popped out at me immediately upon reading the Q&A:

1.     The governor was careful to point out that he went because he was requested to do so by the White House. He has “the utmost respect for the Office of the President of the United States.” I wonder if he would have required an invitation if the President in question had been one more to his liking.

2.     The governor was careful not to say that he had any respect for the person presently holding the Office of the President of the United States. In fact there was no indication at all that he does.

3.     The governor indicated that he “uses these opportunities” to give the President some small items commemorating the Wisconsin sports scene. No attempt made to connect with the President to exchange ideas or coordinate efforts for the mutual benefit of the nation and state.

4.     The governor was eager to point out that he, too, had been involved with two of the companies the President cited in his remarks at the Master Lock Company. He fails to even mention the name of the union shop company whose recent return of jobs to the U.S. plant was the reason for President Obama’s visit.

Sadly, the Governor’s performance highlights the extent to which partisan politics has eaten the heart out of our civil life. Politicians grudgingly grant the meagerest of attention to those of the other party and attempt to turn every event into an opportunity to “score points” for the next election. (The officially stated purpose of Mr. Walker’s party - to assure that President Obama is a one-term President - makes it very uncomfortable for the governor to even be seen with him.)

I would have been so glad to have seen those two men engage, even for a very few minutes, in genuine and serious dialogue on some matter that matters, rather than simply meet for a quick handshake and handoff of sportswear. And even more, it would have warmed my heart to hear them both find some sincere compliment that they could pay to each other.

Instead, the one honored, with his words, “The office of the President of the United States,” while the other honored, by an invitation, “The Governor of the State of Wisconsin.” As though neither of them had a name. What a waste of words and paper.

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