Mary Burke has staked her campaign for governor of Wisconsin on her experience as an executive of Trek. The experience provided good cover for the Democrats’ drive to unseat incumbent Republican Governor Scott Walker as a result of what he has accomplished in office. Walker has an outstanding record on which to run and Burke has not asserted that she would undo the reforms that give rise to the impetus and the muscle and the money for her campaign even if opposition to Walker’s reforms provides its rationale.
This week it was revealed that Burke had left Trek involuntarily in 1993 after a few years with the company. Executives including the company’s president said she had been fired. Burke begged to disagree slightly. Although she had previously asserted that she left the company burned out by her responsibilities, she told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this week that her position had been eliminated as a result of corporate restructuring. Given that Trek is a family business, Burke’s own story wasn’t much of a response. I wrote about the emergence of the story this week in “Burke busted.”
The story of Burke’s departure from Trek must have hurt. Burke has now hit bottom as she seeks to associate Scott Walker with Nazism and swastikas in connection with the story (video of ad below). Ann Althouse explores the rationale behind the ad “Mary Burke’s use of the swastika in her ad does the very thing defenders of the ad will say she accuses her antagonist of doing.” Like an art critic with a taste for history, Althouse demonstrates that the ad’s motif fits into the tradition of unhinged anti-Walker iconography. Burke brings the motif to the surface and uses it for her own purposes. Althouse’s critique of the ad is a tour de force.
The ad draws in a twisted way on the Facebook page of former Trek executive Gary Ellerman, who asserts that Burke was fired from Trek for incompetence. Scott Walker has nothing to do with the story of Burke’s termination from Trek. Walker doesn’t have anything to do with Nazism or with swastikas either.
As Althouse suggests, however, Burke convicts herself of the offense she charges: “Burke seems to be saying that Ellerman is bad because he used the swastika, and since Ellerman asserted something about Burke that could help Walker, Walker is connected Ellerman, and Ellerman’s form of expression should be attributed to Walker, making Walker bad.” She continues: “[T]he subliminal effect — probably intended — was to make us think of Walker as a Nazi. That’s something that Burke herself cannot say as a mainstream candidate, but it is something Walker-haters have been expressing for years.”
The ad doesn’t deal with former Trek chief operating officer Tom Albers, who confirms that Burke was fired from Trek. What about Albers? It’s a mistake to treat the issue as though it is subject to an argument based on reason and evidence when we are in the land of the big lie. It’s the land in which Walker’s deranged opponents live. In her own calculated fashion, Burke has now joined them.