Monday, May 22, 2006

Carry Me Back to Old Californy
As noted this morning, our Wisconsin Republicans were busy this weekend. They took a straw poll at their state convention and favored Virginia Senator George Allen for president in 2008 by one vote over Rudy Giuliani. Newt Gingrich and Condoleezza Rice were close behind. Honesty compels me to report the straw poll had only a little over 300 participants. Nevertheless, the ideological fissure that threatens to divide the Repug party is nicely captured by the Allen/Giuliani split. Rudy would be utterly unacceptable to the culture warriors, who would make up Allen's base. (For what it's worth, Giuliani placed second a year ago, behind Rice; Allen had run fifth last time. Jeb Bush, who placed third in 2005, didn't get a single vote this time.)

I don't know whether you caught it or not, but last month, The New Republic brought to national attention the fact that Allen, despite claiming a full set of shitkicker bona fides--bolo ties, country music, NASCAR--actually grew up privileged in California. He adopted Confederate sympathies while in high school there, and never set foot in the South until he was a sophomore in college. So that means he's an even phonier cowboy than Bush. However, since lots of voters (Repug and otherwise) either can't tell or don't care about the difference between talking the talk and walking the walk, Allen's fake Confederate act would make him a formidable candidate in 2008. (The original New Republic article is behind a subscription wall. Digby captured some of the highlights.)

Recommended Reading: Wisconsin will be voting on a referendum question this November regarding a state Constitutional amendment forbidding same-sex marriage. Pandagon reports that the wingers are test-driving their newest talking point on the issue, designed to keep them from being accused of bigotry. They apparently plan to talk about how it has nothing to do with homosexuality and everything to do with nurturing the family unit. (No word on whether they'd talk about our death penalty referendum question in a similar way: "It has nothing to do with the prisoner; it's all about helping the victim's family.")

I'm concerned about the marriage amendment for two reasons. The possibility that it will lose is bad enough. Even worse is the certainty that it will unleash unparalleled ugliness into Wisconsin politics, especially given that the tide of public acceptance is slowly turning toward same-sex marriage. Clearly, only one antidote could possibly be strong enough for this ugliness: Before then, the Milwaukee Brewers must trade for Boof Bonser.

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