In an interview with the "Fox & Friends" morning show last Sunday, Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald arrogantly dismissed public support for the "Fab 14" Democratic Senators, recycling discredited talking points to deceive the public (and perhaps himself). Here is what Fitzgerald said and why it is wrong.
Fox & Friends: The Democrats have returned home after three weeks across state lines and described as a hero's welcome. 100,000 people turning out, cheering them [chanting] "thank you," "thank you." Does that surprise you?
Sen Scott Fitzgerald (R-WI): It didn't surprise me that the protesters that have trashed the capital over the last month or you know, basically ruined everything in and around the building, put law enforcement in harm's way, tore the senate rule book in half and basically broke every personal relationship in the building. It doesn't surprise me that they offered them a hero's rally. It's disappointing.
Read the transcript here.
"It didn't surprise me that the protesters that have trashed the capital over the last month or you know, basically ruined everything in and around the building..."
Still repeating that worn-out line? Fitzgerald should know that the $7.5 million estimate to clean up the "mess" left by protesters was a gross exaggeration. The state now estimates cleanup to cost twenty times less than was originally announced, backing off a claim made to justify illegally restricting access to the state capitol.
"...put law enforcement in harm's way,"
What harm? Over 100,000 people protested on Saturday without a single arrest. Perhaps Fitzgerald was miffed by the off-duty officers who joined the protesters with "Cops for Labor" signs? Or maybe he was referring to the "threat" to law enforcement's waistlines by the free Ian's pizza?
The only way law enforcement would have been put in harm's way is by Scott Walker, who considered "planting some troublemakers." According to the prank phone call with "David Koch," Walker did not decline to incite trouble out of concern for law enforcement; instead, his "only fear would be if there's a ruckus caused is that would scare the public into thinking maybe the governor has to settle to avoid all these problems."
"...tore the senate rule book in half and basically broke every personal relationship in the building."
It sounds here like Fitzgerald is casting aspersions on Democratic senators rather than the protesters here. In any case, is he really going to take a position on rulebreaking when he violated both legislative rules and open meetings laws when ramming-through Walker's union-busting bill?
"It doesn't surprise me that they offered them a hero's rally. It's disappointing."
What is disappointing is that Fitzgerald can have the arrogance to dismiss the largest protest in Wisconsin history. Even if protesters in Madison are only a percentage of the state's 5.5 million people, polls show they are representative of the entire state: support for unions is strong, and support for Walker is declining. For an elected representative to use discredited talking points to dismiss such strong indications of public will is both surprising and disappointing.