War, famine, health care, Tiger Woods’ marriage. These are the important things that we should spend our time thinking about. But I admit, I often spend inordinate amounts of time being irritated by things that don’t matter. Such as the fact that Noodles & Co. has spaghetti and meatballs on their “American Food” menu.
(In fact, I have an hour penciled in on my calendar every day that says “worry incessantly about trivial matters.” So I have sixty minutes to finish this post.)
But there’s one thing I came across last week that has been puzzling me. Perhaps you can help me out on this one.
Here in Madison, there’s a free publication (aren’t they all now?) called The Isthmus. Sometimes, it’s even good. But last week, the headline of a feature on Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker’s run for the Wisconsin governorship read as follows:
Scott Walker’s challenge
He thinks government is part of the problem, but wants to be governor
Here’s the actual picture from their website:
The key word in the subtitle is “but.” Inclusion of the word “but” implies that the second half of the sentence is somehow at odds with the first.
Now, there’s no doubt that they were high-fiving themselves silly over at The Isthmus when they thought up this apparent “contradiction.” “Ha! We got him! A guy that hates government wants a government job! What a hypocrite! This should be on the freaking COVER!” (And it was.)
It seems strange, however, that before putting this on the cover, nobody stopped to mention the obvious: that it doesn’t actually make any sense.
Here you have a guy in Scott Walker who clearly thinks government is broken, and there’s too much of it. Is it somehow contradictory of him to seek the governorship to rectify the problems that he sees? Isn’t that how a conservative would most rationally go about affecting change? Would he be more ideologically pure if he stood on a street corner holding a sign that says “down with combined reporting?”
Somehow, I don’t think the Isthmus would see it that way. (On the flip side, it doesn’t make liberals’ public service any more noble because they push for higher taxes and more government employment.)
So while the whole “conservatives are hypocrites if they seek public office” angle might be popular among the liberati’s dinner parties in Madison, it doesn’t make any sense in practice. Although if we got rid of the state legislature altogether, that might be the one thing on which both ideologies can agree.
(Now back to my calendar, where the next hour is reserved for “Watching Brandon Jennings High School Highlights.”)