Civil discourse is a faint memory

When newly named Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan attempted to make his first stump speech on the “soapbox” at the Iowa State Fair Monday, he was greeted by a small chorus of hooligans who shouted at him the entire speech.

Undaunted by their rude taunting, Ryan responded, “Iowans and Wisconsinites, we like to be respectful of one another…These ladies must not be from Iowa or Wisconsin.”

I’m afraid the Janesville Congressman was reading from an old playbook that no longer applies. In Wisconsin, civil discourse, much less compromise, appears to be dead.
Another reminder of the lack of civility came this week in Milwaukee.

Milwaukee County Supervisor John Weishan Jr. released the following statement Monday regarding Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr.’s decision to provide security for a Republican rally featuring Ryan and his presidential running mate, Mitt Romney, in Waukesha County on Sunday.

“In yet another display of misplaced priorities, Sheriff Clarke opted to compromise the public safety of Milwaukee County taxpayers yesterday when he misappropriated law enforcement resources to protect GOP candidates Mitt Romney and Representative Paul Ryan. In February 2012, Sheriff Clarke made the decision to assign sheriff’s deputies to only partial security during President Obama’s trip to Milwaukee to visit Master Lock. At that time, the Sheriff cited ‘elimination of dignitary protection funding’ from the sheriff’s 2012 budget as reason for limited support. Yet, somehow, when GOP hopefuls came to a neighboring county, Sheriff Clarke had no problem with providing security and resources that should be focused on his own county. Once again, Sheriff Clarke has chosen to put his personal ideology ahead of his responsibility to protect and serve. The taxpayers of Milwaukee County pay Sheriff Clarke to administer law enforcement services, not to raise his personal profile as a conservative ideologue. All high ranking officials, no matter what party affiliation, deserve to have the utmost protection and security when visiting Milwaukee County.”

On Tuesday, we received a press release with the following headline from Clarke: “Idiot Supervisor At It Again.”

Clarke then issued the following statement: “Apparently this partisan hack has pulled his head out of his ass once again to say something stupid. The next time little boy Weishan says something intelligent or accurate will be the first. This is the same idiot who recently diminished the danger of law enforcement work several weeks before one of my officers lost his life in the line of duty. He would do Milwaukee County good by crawling back into his hole.”

Allrighty then. I need not add anything further to this conversation, because it speaks volumes all by itself.

Steve Jagler is executive editor of BizTimes.

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