Sunday, June 21, 2009

Friendly disagreements

isconsin Political Fix
not just another blog
June 21, 2009

By Bill Kraus

David Carley’s memorial service brought back most of the surviving relics of the 1960s and 1970s, including me.

My earliest association with Dave was in 1977. He and I co-chaired Martha Bablitch’s 1978 campaign for a seat on one of the newly created courts of appeals.

While we occasionally pitched in--if asked--with advice and reassurances, our main role was to bi-partisanize the candidate’s image and behavior. All judicial candidates who came to their campaigns with a partisan history knew it was necessary to cleanse their candidacy by a show of bi-partisanship.

This representation was considered particularly important for supreme and appeals court races. Former governor Pat Lucey and former Republican state party chairman Ody Fish, later replaced by former governor Lee Dreyfus, played the parts that David Carley and I were cast for in Martha’s campaign in several court campaigns.

What a concept. Sometime between then and now, however, the people running campaigns found de-partisanizing unnecessary.

That was bad. What was infinitely worse was that the talk broadcast media weighed in with their mandate that it was not enough for Democrats and Republicans to disagree with one another they had to dislike each other as well. The wedge-addicted mercenaries who were running campaigns wanted philosophical adversaries to be personal enemies.

The week of the Carley memorial I experienced another example of the politics of the past when Judge John Shabaz showed up at the Avenue Bar for lunch at the “has beens” table and exchanged pleasantries and reminiscences with a collection of former journalists and pols with whom he was at war during his entire political career.

Almost all the people at that table may have hated John’s politics. They liked the man. They admired his talent and tenacity. And vice versa.

Is it possible to get past--or rid of--the media zealots and the wedging mercenaries and regain our civility and mutual respect for the participants in the honorable trade of politics?

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