A source 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 – The gift choices for Wisconsin’s chief executive are endless, thanks to recall election rules that allow for unlimited campaign contributions. So are the gift options for his opponents. Check out the blizzard of "Recall Scott Walker" stickers, pins and T-shirts online. One site alone, Zazzle.com, offers 393 anti-Walker items. At least one sector of the economy is booming.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court – "Now Prosser, now Bradley, now Ziegler, you vixen! On Patience, on Shirley, on Patrick and the judge who looks a bit like Nixon! To the top of the docket! To the top of the wall! It’s anger management class for all."
Former Gov. Tommy Thompson – What do you give the guy who has everything? He’s been governor, U.S. Health and Human Services secretary, a corporate CEO, a gentleman farmer and, now, a candidate for U.S. Senate. Perhaps an official Tea Party set for entertaining his conservative critics.
U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin – One can admire the gutsy decision of Baldwin, whose liberal voting record in Congress would make Nancy Pelosi blush, of giving up a safe House seat to run for U.S. Senate. But can she win outside her home base in Madison? Santa’s gift to Tammy is a head start working the fish-fry circuit before the Capitol protest videos surface.
U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl – "Nobody’s Senator But Yours" has been far more than nobody to Wisconsin. His reputation includes successful business endeavors, saving the Milwaukee Bucks, contributions to education and countless acts of philanthropy. A year from retirement, Kohl is a quiet man in a raucous age. His gift is an honorable end to a career well-served.
U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan – Chairman of the House Budget Committee, this Janesville Republican was a runner-up for Time magazine’s Person of the Year. It took a crowd to beat him. "The Protester," a composite that captured events from Egypt’s Tahrir Square to the Occupy Wall Street movement, marched into first place. Santa’s gift to Ryan isn’t a magazine cover, but the chance to continue his often-lonely protest against the root causes of federal deficit spending.
Kevin Kennedy – Speaking of Person of the Year, the Wisconsin winner next year might well be veteran government watchdog Kennedy, who runs the state Government Accountability Board. That board is charged with the thankless task of sifting through hundreds of thousands of recall petition signatures, on deadline, with a small staff and half the world grumbling over his shoulder. Kennedy’s gifts are a 2012 calendar, plenty of poll workers and only 12,568 signatures from people named "Mickey Mouse."
UW-Madison Chancellor David Ward – Check the record, football fans. Ward’s first tenure as chancellor was 1993 to 2000, a span in which the Badgers won three Rose Bowl games. He’s back as interim chancellor and Wisconsin plays Oregon in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 2. Santa’s gift to Ward is really a gift to Wisconsin fans everywhere – a victory in "Bucky versus Ducky."
The authors of Wisconsin’s concealed carry gun law – One of the hottest toys of the season is the Nerf Vortex Blaster series, which include the Proton, the Vigilon, the Praxis and the ever-popular Nitron. Come on… you know you want one!
The Solidarity Singers – With new Capitol assembly rules in place, the longest running act this side of Broadway could be nearing an end. Or is it? The latest protests blend holiday tunes and anti-Walker lyrics, such as "Have Ourselves a Merry Little Recall." With the 250th "Solidarity Sing-Along" coming up next week, Santa’s gift is ear plugs for everyone who must work in the marble-domed echo chamber.
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!
Tom Still is president of the Wisconsin Technology Council.