It’s a pattern we’ve all observed, We’ve written about it before.
It’s the loyalist’s dilemma. When the leader speaks or acts, the party or movement loyalist has but two choices: 1) to shout hallelujah, or 2) to shut up.
Individual loyalists needn’t all choose the same path. One may cheer while others keep silent. Or one may go silent while others cheer. But it must be one or the other.
Well, the Republicans are acting. And the Wisconsin State Journal editorial page has chosen Door Number 2. For this editorial page Door 2 is a common choice.
Last Friday was a particularly amazing day, as the State Journal devoted its editorial to traffic roundabouts (in favor of). Yesterday the editorial concerned spelling bees (also in favor of). And today it was gambling casinos proposed locally in Sheboygan and Beloit (opposed).
Now we’re not saying that any of these things aren’t worth a moment’s thought, or several moments of discussion. We’re not even saying that these charming little editorials are mistaken. We’re saying that the Journal’s editorial page has chosen to take itself out of the game when the game is hot and heavy.
There’s lots of news. The Journal’s news pages carry it. Only the editorial page goes missing.
Front page of the State Journal today: Last night in a deliberate late night session, Senate Republicans passed a bill to weaken wetlands and water management in Wisconsin. Opposed by Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, Wisconsin Waterfowl Association, the Wisconsin Wetlands Association and the National Wildlife Federation. Could be discussed in an editorial. Will it?
The wetlands bill goes hand in hand with the contentious mining bill sought by the Gogebic Taconite mine. (To their credit, the WSJ editorial page has at least commented on the mining bill, but then unfortunately showed no evidence of knowing anything, suggesting “smart, streamlined regulation” — whatever that might mean — as their witless guidance on the matter.)
Or what about this? Republican lawmakers are trying to keep 84 documents about their new election maps secret, even though a court last month ordered them to release a raft of records about the maps. Might be grist for an editorial, no? Nothing yet from the State Journal editorial page.
For us, this all underscores a failed editorial page, often missing-in-action, often shooting itself in the foot. How exactly does an editor who describes himself as a “political guru” manage to discuss traffic roundabouts and spelling bees in this brutally divided state of Wisconsin? How does the slogan “Wisconsin’s Independent Voice” apply? How about “Wisconsin’s Irrelevant Voice”? How about “Inconsequential Voice”?