A very ugly and frightening scene unfolded outside the Wisconsin Capitol building yesterday, wherein a large group of enraged pro-union protesters chased and cornered Republican Senator Glenn Grothman as he attempted to enter the building. Things may truly have gone south if Democratic Rep. Brett Husley hadn't intervened to calm the crowd and shield his fellow legislator. Watch as the Senator is trailed and ultimately surrounded by a sizable contingent of demonstrators angrily chanting "shame!" and "F*** You!" The timely rescue comes right around the 2:45 mark:
Notice how even several members of the mob were concerned enough about their fellow travelers' heightened agitation that they desperately flashed peace signs and tried to start a "peace" chant to diffuse a situation that was teetering on the brink of open violence.
Over the last two weeks, the Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader's family was forced to flee their home when a pack of protesters descended on it, the State Assembly was adjourned after Capitol police told Republican leaders they could no longer guarantee their safety, a Democratic Assemblyman screamed "you're f***ing dead" at a Republican colleague on the House floor, GOP legislators have been assigned police escorts, and now we've seen this harrowing episode. And that's without even mentioning the ubiquitous menacing and offensive placards seen at the daily rallies, or the calls to violence and actual violence witnessed elsewhere around the country.
During the healthcare debate, conservatives were slandered as Nazis, and members of an out-of-control, racist, angry mob. After Tucson, Paul Krugman authored a pitch-perfect Lefty column baselessly denouncing a Right-wing "Climate of Hate" that, in his mind, somehow fueled the shooting spree.
How would Professor Krugman & Co. characterize the threatening scenes playing out in Madison today? Or would he prefer to avert his eyes, lest his ignorant ideological template be disturbed?
Yet another flippant "new tone" joke just doesn't seem appropriate here. Democrats and their union supporters have a responsibility to at least keep their foot soldiers peaceful. Considering the mayhem depicted in the video above, it's amazing that it isn't 14 Republican Senators who are refusing to show up for work in Madison these days.
UPDATE: Here are a few clips of Gov. Walker's budget speech -- the address Sen. Grothman was on his way to see when the melee started:
Isn't it a bit surreal to watch an American governor practically begging his fellow public servants to come home and do their jobs?