By Stephen C. Webster on December 06, 2013

Scott Walker's swift punt this week of a staffer who published racist rants on a social media account over two years ago should send chills right up the spines of all the folks who have dedicated significant time working for his reelection campaign.

Walker naturally claims he knew nothing about racist remarks published by former deputy campaign finance manager Taylor Palmisano until they were reported in the media, but the timing of Palmisano's firing is still troublesome.

Palmisano's job was terminated days after she sent out a fundraising email on Black Friday urging Wisconsin parents to help out the campaign instead of buying presents for their children. But the campaign insists that was not the impetus for her firing.

"The reason for that person not being there is much bigger than that particular email," Walker said during a media briefing on Thursday.

On that point, he's quite right.

Palmisano's Twitter account featured a series of racist screeds in March 2011, threatening to assault a Latino man and complaining about languages other than English being spoken on a bus -- and yet, these ugly remarks somehow went under the radar until the end of 2013.

That kind of chain reaction is the stuff of classic political intrigue. Journalists don't typically sit in front of their computers digging through years and years of backlogged tweets in search of political red meat. No, stories of this nature come from tips, anonymous or otherwise, and I suspect that's exactly what happened to Palmisano.

She embarrassed Walker, so someone returned the favor.

It's not the first time one of Walker's top people landed in hot water for their online activities, either. Steven Krieser, the former assistant deputy secretary for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, was kicked off the island in August for writing on his Facebook account that undocumented immigrants are kind of like "Satan," whatever that's supposed to mean.

In Krieser's case, the reaction was almost immediate. Still, that incident should have been lesson enough for Team Walker. And yet, Walker told reporters on Thursday, "we don't spend time going back trying to find out years and years ago what people may or may not have said on social media."

Thousands of companies, universities and political pros around the country rely on the services of social media reputation management firms to vet member histories and enforce basic standards on affiliated accounts. There is no reason why Walker's people could not have done the same.

If Walker's people were really caught unaware by yet another avowed racist among their ranks, it demonstrates a profound level of irresponsibility at best. At worst, it shows Walker does not have the managerial know-how to play politics on the national stage, which he's clearly angling to do.

But my gut tells me it did not go down that way. What's more likely is that somebody knew and kept it quiet, for whatever reason, until after Palmisano embarrassed the governor. Either that or someone with Team Walker went looking for an excuse to punish Palmisano after the Black Friday mailer, and found several.

In other words: Be warned, friends of Walker. This could happen to you too.

Photo: Flickr user Ky, creative commons licensed.

Section: 

Add new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

More

Subscribe to The Progressive and Get A Free 2015 Calendar

President Obama's executive order protects people like my grandmother.

How do progressives regroup after the Republican victories of 2014? It starts at the very local level, says Scott...

Dubbed “Ferguson to Madison,” the rally drew striking social parallels between the two cities.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

Public School Shakedown

Progressive Media Project

Newsletter