In Casablanca Captain Louis Renault, Rick's amiably corrupt police friend, utters a famous line, "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!" as he collects his winnings.
The same can be said for politics in Madison. The teachers and parents whose perception of Wisconsin government is based on what they taught or learned in the fourth and ninth grades certainly have had their ideals crushed by seeing politics as usual in the raw -- except carried to unprecedented new lows.
It is said that the mark of a good politician is the ability to conceal envy when accusing the opponent of screwing the public. Our brand new governor doesn't even bother to conceal it. His ego and delusional behavior have shown that he is immune to criticism. He doesn't care.
Wisconsin has weathered some rather controversial coziness in recent years. Tommy Thompson had lots of business friends but he sought to be a people's governor. Jim Doyle's ties to Indian gaming interests left heads shaking. But that's chump change compared to Scott Walker.
Walker is like the emperor caught with his pants down. His telephone conversation with a blogger posing as one of his campaign contributors shows that Walker's agenda isn't fixing the state budget but becoming a self-aggrandizing union buster. Further, Walker unabashedly discusses his strategy for crushing Democrats in the legislature, pretending that he would discuss the budget with the opposition but only as a trick to get boycotting Senate Democrats back into the State Capitol so majority Republicans can ram through his so-called "budget repair bill."
Much of what Walker says in the 20 minute conversation was embellishing his image, ego and message. No major smoking gun, to be sure. But the indifference to the process is shocking even for those who have seen Madison politics at its worst in the past. Walker seems oblivious to the concerns of others. There is only one way -- his way and don't delay.
Past abuses and an unwillingness to cut budget pork and pass the hat to pay for core services means Wisconsin legislators must make hard choices. There is a process for doing that and it involves give and take. That's too deep for college dropout Walker who seeks to dump Wisconsin's progressive traditions for temporary expediency and sucking up to his financial backers.
The real message from Scott Walker isn't that these are tough times and we need to work together to solve tough problems. It's that he and Wisconsin are for sale to the highest bidders.