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Friday, September 15, 2006


Hey, did you hear the one about the bill in the Senate that Hillary Clinton (or, as the stable among us call her, Shrillary) voted for, the one that would make it harder for big cities like New York to track criminals and criminal activity? Yeah, Michael Bloomberg, the Republican NYC mayor, was in utter disbelief that Hillary would vote to tie the hands of his police force like that. Did you hear what Hillary called him?

Crybaby! She called him a crybaby!

And of course the right is screaming bloody murder. How, they wonder, can reasonable Democrats anywhere possibly support such a moonbatty, shrill, vile, and immature excuse for a Senator? The demands for an apology--if not her resignation--have been relentless from talk radio, the newspapers, and, of course, FOXNews. My friends tell me it's been hard to be a Democrat in New York these last couple of days, with the embarrassing and childish crybaby hanging over you.

You haven't heard? Really? Oh, right--that's because I think I reversed a fact or two here.

We're not talking about a shrill Democratic member of Congress calling the Republican mayor of her state's largest city a crybaby. No, no, no, that really would have sent the Limbaughs and Hannities and Fred Barneses into screaming rages demanding that Democrat's head on a platter with a side of crow.

The players are actually F. Jim Sensenbrenner and Tom Barrett:
The mayor of Milwaukee and the congressman representing most of its suburbs engaged in a heated and somewhat personal long-distance exchange Wednesday over crime and its effect on the city.

The argument began with House Judiciary Committee passage of legislation that would prohibit the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from releasing data used to trace guns used in crimes back to the dealers who sold them. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a Republican from Menomonee Falls, is chairman of the committee.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett [and former Democratic member of Congress] called the approval of the bill "appalling," saying that "the federal government is turning its back on our fight to get illegal guns off the street."

Sensenbrenner, who voted for the bill, called Barrett a "crybaby" who is "attempting to use legislation pending in Congress to cover up his sorry record of controlling crime."
The story goes on from there.

There has been some small outrage; some of us liberal Milwaukee bloggers have hit on the story. Xoff posts twice at Sensenbrenner Watch. Logan (profanity alert) notes that "Sensenbrenner should lose his seat for not having better stock insults."

And it's true that the daily paper today did both blast the bill and wagged its finger at F. Jim over his temper. There's been a small level of tsk-tsking from community leaders, and WAVE, the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort, issued a press release.

But there is no wide-spread embarrassment among Sensenbrenner's supporters (he was just "speaking bluntly") or overwhelming media demands for an apology or resignation. Sensenbrenner, as is his wont, is stuck in the mud and won't budge, either from his puerile behavior or his NRA-bought position on the bill. No one is gathering people to march on his offices or organizing email drives (hint, hint--especially constiuents) demanding he start acting like a grown-up and a committee chair.

Of course, since my example above was purely hypothetical, I have no way to know for sure that this is the kind of reaction the right would really have against a Democrat--although I lived through the Howard Dean primary campaign, so I saw all kinds of manufactured outrage over more minor flubs. I don't know if the current lack of a firestorm here is a result of this being a rather parochial battle--who in the national media cares about us in flyover land?--or a lack of liberal outrage infrastructure--talk radio, astroturf campaigns, and so on.

In either case, this incident is just a sad reminder that Sensenbrenner has gone native out in DC, and doesn't really give a rip anymore about what's good for the provinces. The NRA takes precedence over the law-enforcement needs of his dstrict. Yet the elements necessary to hold him accountable--from a tenacious media to competitive redistricting--are sorely lacking. I'm trying to get my hands on a copy of this poll, but if its results are accurate--that F. Jim's net approval rating is negative in his district--it's a signal that the 5th CD could be ready for a change this November. But if there's not even going to be a fuss over his calling Mayor Barrett a crybaby, there's little hope of harnessing that negative sentiment and using it against him.

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