Madison, too, was a special place, and not just because I went to school there. I have family born and raised in Madison. Even though I tilt more conservative than many in Dane County I still feel at home in what was often called the isthmus surrounded by reality. Long ago a girlfriend once remarked, "It seems like your blood pressure drops once you've crossed the Dane County line."
She was right. At night the dome of our beautiful state capitol -- a somewhat smaller cousin of the United States Capitol -- shined as a beacon for miles guiding me home.
As for the building itself, I had the privilege to work in it and appreciate the marble, engraved door knobs and history of the building. It truly does belong to the people and can be inspirational.
And for two weeks our capitol was the focus of probably the largest peaceful assembly to seek a redress of grievances in our nation's history.
But our governor ordained that the capitol should be closed to the people, the demonstrators kicked out and the public -- even legislators -- denied meaningful access to our capitol. Our capitol. Ours.
Then tonight I heard a shocking report that there may be $6-7 million damage to the building blamed on the protest. If true, it's heartbeaking that a priceless beacon of hope could be tarnished. But from all accounts I've heard the protest was well controlled and vandalism was not the order of the day.
Whatever the repair cost, tho, the damage to our state done by the shotgun bobblehead legislature and our corrupt governor far exceeds it. Marble and concrete can be polished and fixed. Our state's tarnished reputation is a tougher repair.
The corruption which cut into our institutions -- and even our state's soul -- cannot be calculated in dollars and cents. It may be irreparable.
And our capitol? It's still beautiful. But instead of being a beacon of hope, it reeks not so much of the body odor of thousands of demonstrators but of the stench of corruption. Spic-and-Span and opening the doors and windows won't get rid of that.