Guards escort a criminal down a hall at the state prison in Boscobel. Gov. Scott Walker's comment about calling out the National Guard to staff state prisons if guards walked off the job have been wildly exaggerated.

Can you believe the governor of Wisconsin threatened to sic the National Guard on state workers because they didn't like what he's doing?

Gee whiz! Former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle was such a bully!

Wait a minute. Let's relax for a moment and review the facts. 

Doyle never intended to call out the National Guard to beat up union members with clubs. Back in 2003, his secretary of Employment Relations merely said in public that Doyle might have to activate the Guard to staff prisons after hundreds of prison guards called in sick to protest stalled state contracts.

So maybe Doyle was just planning ahead and being prudent. In turned out he never did have to activate the Guard for this purpose.

Fast-forward to last week, and Republican Gov. Scott Walker just said the same thing. Walker told the State Journal editorial board and other media across Wisconsin on Friday that he had a contingency plan to call out the National Guard to staff state prisons if prison guards walked off the job or called in sick to protest Walker's effort to scale back collective bargaining rights for public-sector unions.

Walker's National Guard comment was met with wild exaggeration by groups advocating for organized labor.

"The governor should not threaten to use the National Guard against Wisconsin public workers!" Citizen Action of Wisconsin declared on a Web site featuring a manufactured image of three riot police wearing helmets, gas masks and holding clubs in front of a building marked "State Office Building." 

Scot Ross, head of the liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now, said: "No Wisconsin governor has deployed the military against public employees as far back as the 1930s, showing just how radical the steps are that Gov. Walker is taking to consolidate his power." 

Ross may be right about his history. But he's dead wrong about Walker's statement here in the present. 

Walker was merely saying the same thing the Democratic governor's administration said before him — and for precisely the same reason: He doesn't want our prisons unguarded.

Let's stay focused on the facts of Walker's significant and controversial collective bargaining proposal without resorting to hyperbole.

Capital W: Plug in to Wisconsin politics

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