Walker’s tradition: falsehoods

Cory Liebmann

The Republican Party has been infused with fundamentalist fervor for decades, but the level of involvement by “Christian” extremists in the GOP has jumped off the charts in the last few years. These people, who fancy themselves the arbiters of what they call “family” and “traditional” values, now virtually control the Republican Party’s primary elections in many places.

Among this faction’s dearest allies is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. But as the governor faces a historic recall effort, he has clearly shown his willingness to toss aside the “traditional value” of honesty.

Perhaps the best example of this is Walker’s long list of statements rated false by PolitiFact Wisconsin. PolitiFact has fact-checked 39 Walker statements and found 27 of them to be “mostly false” or worse. The governor’s record of falsehoods has increased as the recall effort has heated up. Walker’s last statement to be rated some variation of “true” was back in the late spring or early summer.

If Walker is so willing to play fast and loose with the truth in his own statements, then it should come as no surprise that his latest special interest-funded campaign ad is based on a giant lie. The ad features a Monona Grove School District teacher who gives a fictional account of how his district weathered Walker’s cuts to education. The ad would leave a viewer thinking that Walker’s reckless cuts did no damage at all to the district.

In fact, the Monona Grove School District superintendent has verified that the district has indeed had to lay off teachers, cut needed programs – and even had to close a building. The district’s school board president is concerned about filling an even larger shortfall in funding next year. 

So special interest-funded attack groups are trying to support Walker with shady tactics and dishonest claims. The worst example comes from the right-wing attack group Media Trackers. This group specializes in promoting false allegations and unproven innuendo on right-wing talk radio. The group gained notoriety recently with the false claim that two African-American women caught on camera signing a recall petition in Milwaukee were underage. In fact, they were both in their early 20s. This lie got a troubling amount of play in several media outlets, only to be proven completely false after someone took the time to actually fact-check the accusation. 

Media Trackers accused a progressive get-out-the-vote effort earlier in the year of trading a barbecue meal for absentee ballots in the last round of recall elections. The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office investigated and found that no law was broken. The DA’s findings in no way resembled Media Trackers’ allegations. A Media Trackers representative actually gave a sworn statement during the investigation that didn’t match the organization’s rhetoric on the subject.

Apparently, members of the organization value honesty only when they are under oath. It would be a welcome change of pace if they also valued it in their public statements and accusations. 

These examples remind us that right-wing extremists like Walker value political power over everything else. Even though they wear a phony mantle of “traditional values,” one of the first casualties of their politics is the traditional value of honesty.