John MacIver would not approve of the distortions being made in his name

2012-01-21T05:00:00Z John MacIver would not approve of the distortions being made in his nameCap Times editorial
January 21, 2012 5:00 am  • 

The John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy is a conservative political operation — sorry, “think tank” — that seeks to promote Gov. Scott Walker’s agenda. Indeed, its website features a new advertisement that makes all sorts of claims about how the governor’s programs are “working.” The ad is amusing, as it asks Wisconsinites not to believe what they see going on around them and instead to fall for the spin developed by Walker’s messaging team.

So it is that, at the same time the state acknowledges that Wisconsin has lost jobs for six months running, the MacIver Institute is peddling a fantasy that says of the Walker agenda: “It’s working!”

“It” may be working. But if Walker keeps at it, Wisconsinites won’t be working.

Still, we can’t object to the MacIver Institute’s spin on economics. It is no more dishonest than the ads being run by the governor and his billionaire backers from Texas, Michigan and others states.

What is objectionable is that the MacIver Institute is trying to cause Wisconsinites to lose faith in the state’s independent elections and ethics agency, the Government Accountability Board.

No news outlet in Wisconsin has been more steadily critical of the GAB than The Capital Times. When agency officials have stumbled, we’ve called them on it.

But the MacIver Institute is still featuring materials at the top of its website that suggest the GAB will deem recall signatures from “Mickey Mouse” or “Hitler” to be valid.

That’s not true.

The GAB has made it clear that they will review petitions with an eye toward disqualifying signatures that are false or inappropriate.

Additionally, a judge has defined parameters for the review process.

So why is the MacIver Institute continuing to promote this fantasy?

We can’t answer that.

But we do know that John MacIver, a Milwaukee lawyer and political campaigner who played an important role in electing moderate leaders such as former Gov. Warren Knowles, would be shocked by what is being done in his name. Closely tied to Tommy Thompson and George H.W. Bush, he was a classic mainstream Republican.

A frequent figure in the pages of The Capital Times from the 1960s until his passing in 2003, MacIver respected Wisconsin’s institutions — and the truth. A UW-Madison graduate who was always active in civic and state affairs, he frequently served on boards and commissions. And he is well recalled for his work with Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, to create Wisconsin’s Commission on Judicial Elections and Ethics.

Younger Wisconsinites who may not remember MacIver should be aware that the institute that is named for him appears to be taking its lead from hyper-partisan out-of-state interests that have little interest in Wisconsin’s civic — and civil — traditions. That’s not the way John MacIver, an old-school Wisconsin Republican whose memory we well regard, operated.

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