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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Milwaukee County Sheriff, the folkbum endorsement: Don Holt

I had an opportunity to meet and talk with Don Holt at, believe it or not, a Drinking Liberally a few weeks ago. He is everything current Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke is not.
  • David Clarke is a Republican but won't admit to it. Don Holt is proud of his party affiliation.
  • David Clarke has a checkered career (to put it mildly) in law enforcement. Don Holt has a stellar record.
  • David Clarke sees the office of Sheriff as some kind of stepping stone to bigger and better things. Don Holt is coming out of retirement because he sees what a mess Clarke and his ambition have made.
  • David Clarke has mismanaged everything from booking at the county jail to patrols on county roads and highways. Don Holt earned repeated praise for his management of the Highway Patrol District 2.
  • David Clarke talks tough but hasn't delivered a safer Milwaukee County. Don Holt walks quietly but has a record of accomplishment.
  • David Clarke irritates other law enforcement agencies in the county. Don Holt has a long record of cooperation and accord with other agencies.
  • David Clarke serves beer in uniform and uses County resources as he campaigns (and even the Republicans among us know that's wrong. Don Holt got into the race partly because those abuses appall him.
  • David Clarke was cited for contempt of court for over 16,000 violations. Don Holt wasn't.
You get the idea. It's hard to do this, you know, endorse a Republican. But, as with the guys over at Watchdog Milwaukee, I can't in good conscience vote for Clarke. It's not just that I feel if I'm going to vote for a Republican, I may as well vote for an honest one--though I do feel that way.

It's that David Clarke, and his legions of supporters in this race, online and on the radio, are exactly what's wrong with the Republican Party. Clarke talks a big game, struts around in his uniform and poses for the cameras, and gets that steely look of resolve in his eye. That just melts the hearts of many people on the right, including most especially Charlie Sykes. It's the same thing that Bush does that makes the right act like the front row of a New Kids on the Block concert. But when it comes to follow through, we find that Clarke's words have been hollow, as have Bush's. Clark has had five years of swaggering and no years of results.

This blind fanboyishness (fangirlishness, even) of the right led them to do things like make up stuff about Clarke's primary opponent Vince Bobot, saying Bobot was a wuss or soft on crime. That was a convenient re-writing of history, given Bobot's long history as a decorated veteran officer, tough-on-crime judge, and city attorney. But, remember, we're in the midst of an election season that requires some on the right to just make stuff up in order to shield themselves from reality--in this case, the reality that the booted swaggering man they love is just an empty uniform.

It's time to repudiate them, and time to return results to the office of Milwaukee County Sheriff. Please remember that, and vote for Don Holt on November 7.

(And thus concludes this installment of the occasional series known as my endorsements. This series will return in time for the school board elections in the spring.)

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