rickert 2-25 column photo

Gov. Scott Walker speaks last month at the White House in Washington, D.C.

Oh, for a Carlos Danger, a massive traffic jam or a Slick Willy.

As it is, the scandal sparked by thousands of pages of documents showing illegal campaign work in Gov. Scott Walker’s old Milwaukee County executive office is getting panned like an art film at an “American Pie” marathon.

Not sufficiently sexy or succinct for a 30-second attack ad seems to be the verdict of the national punditry. State politics-watchers don’t think there’s enough there to change the kinds of love-him-or-hate-him responses Walker tends to inspire.

Maybe so. And yet in the long run, Walker’s brand of politics is more corrosive to representative democracy than a whole closet full of blue dresses.

The materials released last week by the court hearing an appeal by convicted former Walker aide Kelly Rindfleisch reminded me of that line about how boring real evil is.

Engaging in politics when you’re supposed to be working for the taxpayerswho write your paycheck might not be evil per se, but it is one boring incarnation of naughty.

It’s hard to see the casually engaged voter being interested in secret email systems not used to send selfies of one’s crotch but to hash out the strategic details of a campaign that ended more than three years ago.

Blurring the lines between campaign and taxpayer-funded work is scandalous in the way legislative district gerrymandering and the Electoral College are scandalous. They have dire real-world consequences, but they’re also inside baseball.

What little titillation there is in the Rindfleisch documents comes in the form of lackeys gossiping, brown-nosing and trading jokes that aren’t only offensive; they’re offensively unoriginal.

Here’s Rindfleisch and a paralegal with a Republican law firm chuckling over minority recipients of public assistance, and another Walker aide on how awful it would be to be black, disabled, gay and — horrors! — a Democrat.

Here’s Rindfleisch, a staffer for former lieutenant governor candidate Brett Davis, and two Walker staffers dissing then-lieutenant governor candidate Rebecca Kleefisch or former governor candidate Mark Neumann like a bunch of catty high schoolers.

Here’s Rindfleisch kissing up to Walker’s campaign manager by asking him how he can stand the state Democratic Party chairman, then cracking wise about getting somebody’s uncle to rub him out.

I guess we can be thankful Walker isn’t bullying or oversexed enough to embarrass us like Chris Christie is embarrassing New Jersey or Anthony Weiner embarrassed New York.

However, Walker’s brand of workaday corruption seems to attract dull-witted politicos and thinly veiled racism, classism and other -isms that pander to our worst natures and discourage the renewal of an American democracy beset by low voter turnout and negative campaigning.

Hearing Walker criticize the reaction to the emails as “exactly what’s wrong with the political process” is funny because his 2010 campaign appears to be a textbook case of exactly what’s wrong with the political process.

It’s as if the road to hell is paved with middlebrows like Rindfleisch. But she’s too boring for the rest of us to pay much attention to where we’re headed.

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Contact Chris Rickert at 608-252-6198 or crickert@madison.com, as well as on Facebook and Twitter (@ChrisRickertWSJ). His column appears Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.


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