Friday, October 24, 2008

Reading Bice so you don't have to

Dan Bice, who was the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's designated blog reader "so you don't have to", is back to reading blogs. Bice looks at the online archives of Jo Egelhoff's and sees apparent contradictions between positions she has taken now as a candidate compared to positions she took as a blogger.

As a candidate, Egelhoff talks about making the state’s schools the best in the nation. As a blogger, she spoke out in favor of eliminating kindergarten for 4-year-olds, shutting down all two-year colleges and restricting pay raises for teachers.

As a candidate, Egelhoff promises to work to lower prices at the gas pump. As a blogger, she ripped “gas price whiners,” defended ExxonMobil’s profits and suggested cutting state spending on roads by 10%.

As a candidate, she makes a strong pitch for making health care affordable for everyone. As a blogger, she attacked the state’s Medicaid program’s benefits, called Medicare and Social Security “giveaway” programs and was unenthusiastic about universal health care.

As Blogger Beer points out, these contradictions are only contradictions from Bice's point of view. For example, on gas prices:

There is no contradiction between wanting lower prices and defending another's rights to the money they earned. There are ways to lower gas prices – ways that do not entail penalizing successful industries! The state makes good money on gasoline w/o worrying about finding the raw material, refining, dispensing, and paying people to do all of that. I would love to see $0.50/gallon gasoline but I do not whine when it is $4.00/gallon, I cut back elsewhere, I minimize trips, plan trips, drive more conservatively. There is no inalienable right to gasoline. I also defend Exxon's right to make a profit, I have run small business like enterprises with an eye towards maximizing profit, it really changes your perspective when you get on the other side of the supply & demand curve.

I would add that on education there is nothing about the cuts "Egelhoff the blogger" proposed that is contrary to the ideal pursued by Egelhoff the candidate. The only way to perceive a contradiction is to believe that those programs are necessary to the goal of making Wisconsin's schools "the best in the nation," a dubious proposition at best.

As for health care, same thing. The government programs Bice cites are not part of anyone's plan for insuring the remaining Americans without health insurance, so why mention them at all?

As for gun control, Egelhoff has explained her position and how it has evolved. But I hardly believe the NRA has any remorse over their selection of Egelhoff over her opponent?

So the point of Bice's little exercise was what? That Egelhoff did not want her blog posts where they could be readily seen? But as Bice notes, "Egelhoff said she took down her blog after a staffer with the Government Accountability Board told her that it might be a campaign finance violation for her to post on a corporate-owned Web site." Specifically, her website. And as Bice saves for the last sentence, the GAB thought her decision to pull her posts down pretty smart as the "law is unclear."

This is not to say that any blogger that decides to run for public office shouldn't expect their blogs to be open records. But Bice is not merely reporting; he's making a judgment on Egelhoff's positions, using his own liberal bias as the measuring stick.

Perhaps instead of writing an investigative news column Bice should start a blog instead.