Thursday, January 30, 2014

Facts clear Burke of any "presidential rudeness"

Obama changed itinerary, so Burke couldn't meet with the president

In a state run by conservative Gov. Scott Walker, Wisconsin is full of progressives who are all Monday-morning quarterbacks, ready to disseminate their complaints to whomever will listen.

I should know: I am typically one of them.

In this instance, however, I take issue with my fellow progressives. Their hearts are in the right places, but their attitudes and condemnations seem too readily released, with very little regard for the timeline of events over what has transpired.

The latest episode involves Democratic candidate for governor Mary Burke taking time to meet with western Wisconsin constituents rather than going to an event where President Barack Obama would be speaking.

Some progressives took the time to especially mock Burke, who they assumed was snubbing the president.

Comments across Facebook have described Burke as “avoiding” the president, whose poll numbers have slipped in the Badger state. At Cognitive Dissidence, blogger Jeff Simpson wrote that Mary Burke has gone “rogue.” And the Republican Party of Wisconsin says she’s hiding from a president with poor poll numbers.

All of these ideas, all of these statements, are based little on fact and more on contempt for the candidate herself. Except in the case of the Republican Party, because Burke lacks the hard-left progressive credentials, she’s clearly “too self-righteous” and doesn’t really want to win.

I reject those notions. It isn’t fair to cast such a shameful light on Burke, who is honoring a scheduled commitment she made.

As always, facts tend to shed more light on the situation than suppositions and innuendos. As he’s a closer source to the real story, Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate said on his Facebook status:
...originally the President was going to spend more time in WI and come in [Wednesday]. When that was being discussed Mary was going to meet with the President. Then the White House changed their plans. The President called Mary today and they had a really good conversation about how WI is lagging our neighbors in economic growth and other topics. The President told Mary to keep her schedule in Western Wisconsin and that there is plenty of time for them to campaign together before November. The Burke campaign has had this day scheduled for quite a while.
The parts above in bold -- that the White House changed their plans, and that the president told Burke to keep her schedule -- should give pause to anyone thinking that Burke was somehow disrespecting the president.

Burke being in Waukesha on Thursday wouldn’t have done much anyway -- she wouldn’t have spoken, as this wasn’t a campaign event, but rather would have been a member of the audience, there to listen to the president’s speech on the important policy items he had outlined in his State of the Union address.

Let’s consider that for a moment: which would do more good for a campaign? Sitting and listening to a speech, or getting to shake hands and speak personally with scores of Wisconsin citizens?

I have no doubts that my progressive brothers and sisters are concerned about this upcoming election. It’s going to be a tough one, and we’re all going to give our two cents when it comes to what direction the campaign should take. That’s fine, and should be encouraged.

But let’s douse the flames of contemptuous rumor with a bit of truth and information. Mary Burke didn’t say no to seeing the president today; she initially said yes to meeting with him, but had to change plans after Obama changed his itinerary. She spoke with him on the phone, and they agreed that she should keep her plans as scheduled.

That’s a fair portrait of what really happened. And let’s be honest: had Burke canceled her meetings in western Wisconsin -- an important constituency that generally determines the winner of statewide elections -- wouldn’t we instead see headlines critiquing her of snubbing Wisconsinites? Wouldn’t that have hurt her more in the long run?


  1. This is laughable. It's 8 months before the election. It's the President of the United States. Governor Walker showed leadership and very likely rearranged his schedule to greet the President.

  2. Are you seriously quoting Mike Tate? Yeah, there's a good truth bearer.