The games of Walkerfest
No reporters or news crews were allowed into Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s brats-and-beer Kumbaya summit for cabinet secretaries, legislators, their spouses and two staff members per lawmaker last week.
So we have to guess at what games were not played at Tuesday’s event at the lakeside Executive Residence in Maple Bluff:
Pin the Tail on the Donkey was not played because the donkey is the Democratic Party mascot, so it would have been oh so politically incorrect. Walker, who on June 5 became the only governor in the nation’s history to survive a recall, didn’t want to rub it in.
Monopoly wasn’t played, because it’s about capitalism – buy Boardwalk for $400, B&O Railroad for $200, put up hotels, charge rent and collect $200 when pass Go. Playing it would have reminded Democrats that some rich capitalists from across the nation contributed up to $500,000 each for Walker’s campaign to keep his job.
Croquet was also banned, because it requires players to wield mallets. They could be used as weapons by beer-drinking Democrats still angry at the political tactics of Republicans over the last 18 months.
Presidential Charades was not acceptable because Walker may have drawn the "President Reagan" act-out card, and his pantomime would have reminded Democrats that he warned his cabinet early in 2011 to expect governing turbulence similar to that after Reagan fired all striking air traffic controllers in 1981.
Beer Pong, in which ping pong balls are tossed at beer-filled cups that must be drained whether or not the ball lands in a cup, wasn’t played because binge drinking remains Wisconsin’s unofficial personal vice. Also, Capitol Police were present, and there hasn’t been a legislator convicted of DUI in more than two years – a trend lawmakers hope continues.
And, a round of Follow the Leader would not have been appropriate, given these strained political times. And, with more than 300 people RSVPing, and all those antiques on the first floor of the official residence, Hide and Seek, Keep Away and Tag were also impossible.
What games could Wisconsin’s political class have played Tuesday?
Telephone would have been fun. In it, someone whispers a statement into the ear of the next person, who then whispers what they think they heard into their ear of the next person in line, and then everyone laughs when the last person in the circle announces what they were told.
Imagine the giggles – especially after a few brews -- if the first whispered message was, “Wisconsin should become a right-to-work state!”
The newest version of Clue would have also been fitting, because the description of it on the Website of Hasbro, its manufacturer, sounds so much like the last two years in the Capitol: “…weapons, guests, and a deck of intrigue cards that adds suspense to the classic murder-mystery game. Includes gameboard, six guest movers, six Personality Cards, deck of Rumor Cards, deck of Intrigue Cards, clue pad, scandal envelope, two dice, nine weapons…”
Senate Democratic Leader Mark Miller’s version of a Cue question could have been: “Gov. Walker…’divided and conquered’ … with the ‘bomb’"?
Musical Chairs would also have been fun, if Democratic and Republican legislators had alternated in line only to fight for a seat when the music stopped. But be careful of the background music. Do not use the welcome-to-the-stage political anthems of either the Walker campaign or the Democrat who failed to recall him, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
Also acceptable would have been a few rounds of Whose Voice Is That?
For example, how long would it have taken Democrats to recognize an audio clip on the need for bipartisanship and unity from Walker’s first State of the State speech? And think of the yuks if that had been followed by another sound bite from last week, when a certain Democrat In Chief said he couldn’t come to Wisconsin to campaign for Barrett because he was so busy.
Finally, Red Rover could have also worked, since the Capitol is filled with ambitious pols who always want to be “sent over.”
Prizes? Souvenir grilling aprons with the date and your picture, with or without the governor. Or no primary challenges for first-term leggies.
Steven Walters is a senior producer for WisconsinEye. This column reflects his personal perspective. Email firstname.lastname@example.org