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Money & Politics: Twas a night in Wisconsin
A year-end reflection on the states political spectacles
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‘Twas a night in Wisconsin, when all through the state,

Not a conservative was feeling anything but great.

The Republicans had won big in the elections that fall,

Extending their majorities in both the state’s halls.

The GOP’s leaders were nestled, all snug in their offices,

Dreaming of happenings under their auspices.

And minority Democrats gritted their teeth,

Looking out piteously for signs of relief.

When all of a sudden appeared many bright lights,

and cameras and crews and haircuts precise.

‘Twas the cable news people, too many to mention,

Answering our yearning for national attention.

Then, to their wondering eyes did appear

Gov. Scott Walker, being less than perfectly clear.

“I may run for president,” he told the media mob,

“So long as Paul Ryan doesn’t want the job.”

“And anyway,” he added, “it’s not just up to me,

I have to feel it’s a calling before I agree.

That call it would come from some realm unseen,

and no, not David Koch, whose calls I now screen.”

Walker gazed down on his allies and called them by name:

“Come Vos, come Fitzgerald, come more of the same.

Anything goes now that Dale Schultz is gone,

Whatever you want is clearly not wrong.”

“Right to work,” they shouted, “will do the trick,

Just say it’s ‘a distraction’ and we’ll pass it real quick.”

(Walker has “long ducked and dodged on the issue,”

noted, not reaching for tissue.)

And also their sights were set on education:

“Get rid of those standards set for the nation.

The only Common Core we need to feel so smarty

Is money from folks who back the right party.”

Vos, the Assembly Speaker, wanted another ox gored,

The oh-so-awful Government Accountability Board.

It’s “dysfunctional,” he cried, its leader an “embarrassment.”

“Look who’s talking,” replied his foes, bruised but unbent.

Then this reviled agency had an audit one day,

Concluding its performance was mainly OK.

But it does have some problems, well what do you know?

If the Legislature had any, we’d let them all go!

So the lines they are drawn, the stage it is set,

Wisconsin is poised for more battles yet.

Walker’s focus is on jobs and the future so clear,

Especially his own next job, seen as ever more dear.

He sprang to the cameras, accepted the praise;

“Mazel tov,” he uttered, having mastered the phrase.

“Be well, Wisconsin, keep my profile in sight,

Sincerely I bid you good luck and good night.”


  Lueders is the Money and Politics Project director at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism ( The Center produces the project in partnership with MapLight.

The Center collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.

No column will be released the week of Dec. 29. Bill's column will return the week of Jan. 5.