Tony Blankley

The fiscal reality of crisis in Europe is driving the political reality of impatience in American politics.

And now we have the astounding spectacle of Wisconsin, where the Democratic state senators have left the state rather than attend the vote for modest but necessary cuts in public employee benefits proposed by the new Republican governor, Scott Walker, who was elected to do precisely what he is proposing (including restricting public employee unions' collective bargaining powers).

Compounding the spectacle is the Cairo-like demonstrating by tens of thousands of union members -- particularly teachers who have called in "sick," thus forcing the closing of many Wisconsin public schools. (Of course, unlike Cairo, Wisconsin is part of the American democracy, which has just had a fair and honest biennial election -- and it has done so more than 100 consecutive times -- in which the people were able to speak and elect their chosen leaders.)

Though we do not have reliable polling on the Wisconsin controversy yet, it was a telltale sign over the weekend when the head of the teachers union urged teachers to go back to work. Public unions are in a justifiably low standing with the public.

And after three years of private-sector firings -- plus 9 percent unemployment, salary cuts, home mortgage crises and 401(k) shrinkage -- the 91 percent of the American work force that works in that private sector (53 percent for small businesses with even lower benefits) is entitled to feel little sympathy for Wisconsin schoolteachers, who receive an average of $89,000 in salary and benefits and contribute $0 to their pension plans and only 5 percent to their medical insurance. (The average private-sector employee contributes 29 percent.)

The president's strong support for the public workers union lines up -- at least for the time being -- a both state and federal policy debate that may well yield needed deficit reduction legislation and dangerous political waters for the Democratic Party. The Democrats seem to be prepared to defend the idea of not dealing with the deficit crisis. Have the Democratic strategists (including those in the White House) really thought through the electoral implications of that decision?

Of course, huge, good news for America on an unrelated topic may break out somewhere (though probably not in the Middle East, Mexico, Europe or Asia) -- and I hope it does.

But if "deficits and debt" continues to be the defining issue of American politics for the next 18 months -- and if the Democrats from the White House to the statehouses stay in their current head-in-the-sand posture -- Democrats may be approaching a nasty electoral meltdown of their party in November 2012.


Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.

In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.

©Creators Syndicate