Ed Rendell: In hindsight, it was pretty stupid to try to recall Walker, huh?

posted at 4:41 pm on June 6, 2012 by Allahpundit

B-b-b-but I thought Wisconsin had sent a “strong message” to Walker about his “politics of division” or whatever.

How stupid was the recall effort? So stupid that even your friendly neighborhood eeyore was laughing about the futility of it nearly a year ago. An actual quote, written during the five minutes of my life to date in which I was feelin’ cocky:

Not only is the outrageous outrage over the collective bargaining bill fated to cool over time, as success stories bubble up in the news and centrist voters realize that the blue-collar apocalypse isn’t at hand, but it turns out a loophole in Wisconsin law will allow Walker to raise unlimited funds for two months to fight the recall effort starting in November. He’ll be armed to the teeth financially, in other words, and Republicans who turned out in droves to re-elect David Prosser in the face of a liberal onslaught will be even more motivated to protect the GOP’s newest hero…

Don’t we want the left to try this, given how likely they are to suffer another humiliating defeat?

Today is the day of gloating, my friends, so consider the box checked. Over to you, Ed Rendell:

“It was a dumb political fight — I would have waited until Walker’s reelection,” Rendell told The Hill when asked if the recall push had been a mistake. The former governor and head of the Democratic National Committee pointed to exit polls that showed a number of independents and Democrats who opposed Walker’s policies nonetheless voted for him because they opposed a recall…

“I don’t think it was quite as devastating a defeat for labor or Democrats as people are construing.” he said. “Don’t discount the Ohio vote. That was on a principle, not on a recall. You might make a case that the Ohio vote was a clear test…. This was a recall, not a straight up and down vote on what Walker did. You don’t try to recall Walker because he’s done something you disagree with. And if you reverse the money I have no doubt Walker would have lost.”

For what it’s worth, a Wall Street Journal piece published on May 20th quoted a number of Dems who insisted they opposed the recall all along. Whether that’s the truth or simple ass-covering at the eleventh hour as Walker’s reelection seemed assured, I leave for you to judge:

Top Democrats now say that when labor groups first raised the specter of a recall, the party’s officials urged their allies in Wisconsin to reconsider. “We told them it was a bad, bad, bad idea,” one Democratic official said.

A union official said both the Democratic National Committee and the Obama campaign expressed reservations. “I don’t know that anyone was enthusiastic about it over there,” the union official said.

Party leaders also counseled against pouring money into a contested primary ahead of the recall election, the Democratic official said.

Mr. Barca, the Wisconsin Assembly minority leader, said he had heard rumblings about the DNC’s displeasure with the recall. But Wisconsin residents weren’t seeking approval from Washington, he said.

I don’t think they had any choice but to try it. They went after Prosser as a proxy for Walker and nearly beat him; they went after Republican state senators and knocked a few of them off, although not enough (at the time) to take back the majority. What would their excuse have been for passing on trying to recall Satan himself? “We can’t win in a famously pro-labor state that’s voted Democratic in every presidential election for 25 years?” Contra Rendell, their real handicap here wasn’t money, it was time. Given the escalation from the Madison protests and the stakes in protecting Walker’s fiscal reforms, conservatives were always going to line up behind him and provide oceans of cash for his defense. The left’s problem was that they couldn’t try to recall Walker during his first year in office, which meant undecideds had time to see for themselves that the collective bargaining reforms worked. The sky didn’t fall; the state’s budget benefited from the move. And amidst all this, they got to watch Greece implode and America’s debt continue to climb because of increasingly onerous and ultimately unsustainable state obligations. Go figure that voters were ready to go to bat for a guy who’s willing to administer tough medicine for their fiscal health.

Via the Tatler, here’s the obligatory “Downfall” parody of last night’s outcome. Exit question: Heaven forbid that O win a second term this fall, but if he does, is Walker now the favorite in 2016? He’s suddenly the gold standard in standing up to entrenched liberal interests in the name of budgetary sanity, and we’re going to need a lot of sanity after Hopenchange v2.0.


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