Recall Elections Are Disruptive And Unnecessary

In an ideal world, today's Recall Election in Wisconsin would not even be legally possible.

National Review’s Jonah Goldberg has a column in today’s Los Angeles Times in which he argues, as others have in the weeks leading up to today’s Recall Election in Wisconsin, that recall elections are a bad idea:

In 2003, I was one of the few conservatives opposed to the recall of Gray Davis, arguably the worst California governor in modern memory.

Davis didn’t deserve to stay in office, but the voters of California deserved to keep him. Democracy depends on accountability, not just for individual politicians but for their parties and programs.

As I noted in 2003, former New York Mayor Ed Koch summed up the principle nicely. During the disastrous tenure of his successor, David Dinkins, Koch was asked whether he would run again. Koch replied: “No! The people threw me out, and now the people must be punished.”

That logic applies even more for recalls. If California had had its fiscal reckoning in 2004 or 2005, the state — and the country — would be much better prepared to deal with its economic problems than it is now. The Democratic Party in general, and the public sector unions in particular, would have been held accountable for their manifest failures, and instead of replacing Davis with a nominal Republican, voters would have been given a clearer choice.

Goldberg’s argument is different from the one I made when I addressed this issue several weeks ago, but he’s got a point here I think. Recall elections give upset voters the opportunity to conduct a do-over election that typically results in being little more than a referendum on the incumbents performance in office, thus making it less likely that the election would give voters a true choice between real alternatives. This was especially true in California, where the recall procedure allowed an essentially unlimited number of candidates on the ballot but the state itself meant that only high profile candidates actually ever had a chance to compete. The broader point, though, is that the voters had elected Gray Davis to the Governor’s office in 1998 and then re-elected him in 2002. As it stood, he was term-limited and would have left after the 2006 in any case. Instead, one year into his second term, the voters were allowed a “do over” and they choose to kick Davis out and elect a man to the office who had no real connections to Sacramento and thus was clearly going to have difficulties pushing his agenda through the state legislature. Indeed, that is exactly what happened during Schwarzenegger’s seven years in office and, in addition to not having dealt with the problems that arose during the Davis Administration, California is now having to deal with the the consequences of those years in office.

When I wrote about the issue of recall elections several weeks ago, I made this point:

 We elect officials to serve specific and set terms of office for a reason, among those reasons are the idea that it takes a certain amount of time for anyone, whether they are a State Legislator, Governor, Member of Congress, or President, to get settled into their role and begin enacting the agenda that they were elected to implement. Obviously, the people who voted against those officials aren’t going to be happy with the policies that they implement, and indeed it is partly the job of the opposition party to stem the power of the majority run roughshod over the will of the minority, though. However, there comes a time when one must recognize that elections mean things and that one has to accept the outcome of an election while preparing for the next one. Additionally, there something to be said for the idea that politicians shouldn’t be guided by poll numbers all the time and that a political system makes politicians more fearful of the partisan recall election would lead to governance by poll results. Most importantly, though I would argue that mere policy disputes shouldn’t be sufficient reason to remove someone from office before their term is up.

Along with Initiative and Referendum, Recall was one of those electoral reforms that was brought into being during the Progressive Era, which is why you’re most likely to find it in states where Progressives were politically successful like Wisconsin (home of men such as Robert LaFollette, Sr.) and California (home of prominent American Progressive Hiram Johnson). The idea, quite obviously, was to make it easier for the public to remove politicians from office and, at the time, it was primarily targeted at officeholders who were “in the pocket” of major industrial or railroad interest.

Perhaps there was a logic for at the time, although it’s interesting to note that the power was used very sparingly from the 1920s until the 1980s.  For the most part, though, it strikes me that the Recall has the potential be a disruptive force rather than a reformative one. California saw it’s political system essentially paralyzed for months once the recall process against Governor Davis had begun. Wisconsin has been a Recall battlefield for a year now, and what exactly has that accomplished? At this rate, whether or not he wins today Scott Walker will have to face the voters of Wisconsin against in 2014, as would Mayor Barrett should he win today. That means the state will have held three Gubernatorial elections in four years. Frankly, were I a voter in Wisconsin I’d be pretty much sick of all of it at this point, and indeed there is some evidence that such fatigue has started to set in among some Badger State residents. As I said above, we elect officeholders for set terms for a reason, and, though they may be rare, Recall elections disrupt that process and contribute to a general sense of political hyperpartisanship that is far too common in the country today. It’s time we started getting rid of them.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Hey Norm says:

    Oh well if Jonah Goldberg says it then it must be true because he isn’t the biggest partisan hack on the planet.
    The guy wouldn’t even have a career if his mother wasn’t sniffing after Clinton spooge stains.
    I don’t even know what the rest of your post said. One look at his name and I knew it had no basis in truth.

  2. @Hey Norm:

    Perhaps being willing to have an open mind to opposing opinions would be a good thing for you.

  3. CB says:

    I agree with the sentiment, but on the flip side, couldn’t they be seen as the ultimate in voter repentance? As if to say ‘we recognize we screwed up, here’s what we’re going to do about it?’

    the system might be flawed, but i dont think the general idea is. to ‘force the voters to live with their mistake’ seems unnecessarily petulant.

  4. mattb says:

    @Hey Norm:

    I don’t even know what the rest of your post said. One look at his name and I knew it had no basis in truth.

    Then why bother commenting?

    Sure, Goldberg is a classic example of a “made” republican pundit (like Bill Kristol and Tucker Carlson… and man, they have the successful prediction track record to prove their made-ness). But a broken clock can still be right twice a day.

    And I think this is one of the issues where Goldberg is probably right. Recall elections are problematic — especially as more and more money is pouring into the process.

    But beyond all of that, the entire of idea that because “X” says it, it must be wrong is exactly what’s wrong with partisan politics. And while I realize that your tongue was probably more than a bit in your cheek when you wrote that, it’s still pretty ignorant and not particularly productive.

  5. CB says:

    @Hey Norm:

    Except he has a pretty consistent and coherent argument against them.

    Goldberg’s history of douchebaggery is legendary, yeah, but as Doug said, open your mind, man.

  6. Dave Schuler says:

    While I agree that continually re-running every election would be bad, I’m skeptical eliminating the possibility of recall would be an improvement. Shouldn’t the voters be able to recall a manifestly corrupt public official?

    I don’t see recall as being any less democratic than any other election and as long as the provision was in place when the official was sworn into office it wouldn’t violate due process, either.

    This

    The people threw me out, and now the people must be punished

    when applied to the recall of a manifestly unfit officeholder suggests that sadism is a justifiable principle of government. I disagree.

  7. @Dave Schuler:

    Fair points, but if there is corruption and illegal activity going on there are other methods for removing a politician from office. The legislature in Illinois removed Rod Blagojevich from office far faster than any recall effort would have, for example.

  8. walt moffett says:

    I like the idea of the recall election as reminder to not get too comfortable in the center seat and it is a safety valve when the only possibility left is rebellion. Whether the bar should be set higher, say verified signatures of 25-50% of the last election’s turnout should be the question.

  9. Hey Norm says:

    We had this discussion a week ago and the only change from then is the Goldberg article. And Goldberg is a massive douche. Period.

    Doug’s point that this is about not liking the outcome of the election is wrong. Walker never campaigned on eliminating collective bargaining rights for unions. He sprung it after the election. So he is open to recall. If it fails…so be it. But no recourse? That’s ridiculous. And shocking from a LIbertarian. But now that I have read the post I find this interesting:

    “…at the time, it was primarily targeted at officeholders who were “in the pocket” of major industrial or railroad interest…”

    Walker is a Koch whore.

  10. James H says:

    There’s also a nastiness in recall elections; because they’re essentially a negative vote on an incumbent (as opposed to a positive vote on a challenger), the opposition feels free to go over the top.

    It gets even worse at the municipal level. There, politics tends to be the hobby/avocation of a relatively small group of people. And they love nothing more than to fight with each other over the direction of their town (and the personalities of whoever’s on the town council and in the mayor seat).

  11. James says:

    I’m am genuinely confused here Doug;

    Recall elections give upset voters the opportunity to conduct a do-over election that typically results in being little more than a referendum on the incumbents performance in office, thus making it less likely that the election would give voters a true choice between real alternatives. (emphasis mine)

    What about recalls that makes it “less likely” that voters will have a “true choice”? What do you mean by “true choice” and “real alternatives”? I’m not reflexively for or against recalls, I’m just trying to understand why you dislike them so much.

  12. jan says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Perhaps being willing to have an open mind to opposing opinions would be a good thing for you.

    However, Norm wouldn’t be Norm if he had an open mind, and discourse that discussed, rather than denigrated.That’s his shtick.

  13. mattb says:

    Recalls, it seems to me, are a lot like the impeachment process. In theory they are a good check, but in times of increasing partisanship, these can become at best a nasty distraction and at worst a dangerous tool.

    While I appreciate seeing Republicans potentially get hoisted by their own petard (see Clinton Impeachment and Gray Davis) I think it’s a bad precedent and ultimately bad public policy.

    As far as the problem of “running as a moderate and ruling as a hardliner” — that seems to me to be a classic issue in politics. Further, as often as that might happen, so to is there the potential for things to go the opposite way (and a number of instances where they did).

    Recalls are ultimately costly and disruptive to the entire process. And always risk turning against the people who wield them.

  14. Hey Norm says:

    Yeah Jan…you are the picture of an open mind. Right. Reading a propogandist like Goldberg is not mind opening. It’s drivel. You might as well read Breitbart. Or the American Spectator. Or Strata-Sphere. You know…the crap you read and swallow whole.

  15. rudderpedals says:

    @jan: The irony….it burns

    Had Ken Lay of enron fame not died so conveniently Davis might have been vindicated.

  16. Hey Norm says:

    Hey…isn’t Goldberg the guy that lied about being nominated for the Pulitzer Prize twice?
    Yeah…great source y’all are defending.
    I’m sure reading a self-aggrandizing liar will open everyones mind.

  17. @Hey Norm:

    I am responding to Goldberg’s argument rather than choosing to engage in ad hominem attacks.

    I read plenty of people I disagree with, on both sides of the political aisle. Living in an intellectual bubble sounds very boring to me.

  18. Dustin says:

    Until I see recalls are actually abused, I think talks like this are just sour grapes. Recalls aren’t easy, and I don’t see them just being used repeatedly because someone “didn’t like the result of an election.” What’s happening in Wisconsin is the result of the governance, not an election.

  19. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I am happy we both share an appreciation to intellectual rigor.

    Pursuant to that, what exactly do you mean when you write “[Recalls] [make] it less likely that the election would give voters a true choice between real alternatives.”

    What exactly is it about recalls that denies voters true choices or “real alternatives”? You write about California’s recall,

    where the recall procedure allowed an essentially unlimited number of candidates on the ballot but the state itself meant that only high profile candidates actually ever had a chance to compete.

    but you don’t really establish how that’s a problem specific to recalls. Issues of name recognition and profile has been as old as popular electoral democracy itself. Then you explain that:

    Recall has [sic] the potential be a disruptive force rather than a reformative one

    But then, doesn’t that depend who’s holding the shit end of the policy stick, doesn’t it?

    Are you trying to find some essential element of the recall power that is uniformly toxic to democracy? Or are you just unhappy that a Republican Governor might be held responsible for his actions?

  20. mantis says:

    @Hey Norm:

    I don’t even know what the rest of your post said. One look at his name and I knew it had no basis in truth.

    You know what I do if I’m not interested in knowing what someone has to say? I don’t comment on what I did not read or listen to. I certainly don’t double down and screech at people for defending the very idea of considering ideas, even from sources you don’t trust.

    Goldberg thinks recall elections are disruptive and unnecessary. You can agree, you can disagree, or you can make yourself look a fool by repeatedly criticizing everyone else for discussing the issue. If the last option is appealing to you, I suggest finding something other topic to discuss (it’s the Internet, there are plenty of opportunities), so we don’t have to spend the thread demonstrating the foolishness of your comments.

    Anyway, back on topic, I find myself in odd agreement with Goldberg, at least on the general issue of recalls.

    Perhaps there was a logic for at the time, although it’s interesting to note that the power was used very sparingly from the 1920s until the 1980s. For the most part, though, it strikes me that the Recall has the potential be a disruptive force rather than a reformative one.

    Have you noticed that a lot of political tools with disruptive potential that were used sparingly in the past have been used more frequently in recent years? Have we finally just reached a point where we don’t want government to be able to function at all, or do we need to get rid of some of these tools that are little more than monkey wrenches in the works?

    Walker could have been voted out of office in 2014 (and still might be). That’s what elections are for. This recall is unnecessary and disruptive.

    Members of Congress can be voted out of office on a regular schedule. That’s what elections are for. Assumed filibuster of every bill is unnecessary and disruptive.

  21. James,

    As to your first point, as Goldberg notes in his column, the recall election inevitable becomes a political vendetta in which the opposition puts up their supposedly best candidate and spends the election attacking the incumbent’s record rather than offering any real alternative.

    As to the second, I was referring to the extent to which the presence of so many candidates, included celebrity non-entities like Larry Flynt and Gary Coleman, turned the whole process in to a circus. This was due to a quirk in California’s recall law that set lower standards for the “alternative choice” candidates to get on the ballot than in an General Election, and to the lack of a primary. Again, Wisconsin is fortunate in not having this provision in their law.

  22. Hey Norm says:

    It’s not a matter of disagreeing. I disagree with you more than I agree and yet I still read you.
    I disagree with Frum and I still read him.
    Goldberg has no credibility and doesn’t deserve the bandwidth anymore than Breitbart or Hannity. Giving it to them only encourages them.
    And lying about being nominated for the Pulitzer just confirms his title as King of Douchbagdom.

    FYI…a Libertarian who complains because he has gotten the economy he asked for shouldn’t be talking about other’s intellectual bubble.

  23. al-Ameda says:

    it is tempting to agree with Goldberg, but he’s over the place”

    In 2003, I was one of the few conservatives opposed to the recall of Gray Davis, arguably the worst California governor in modern memory.
    Davis didn’t deserve to stay in office, but the voters of California deserved to keep him. Democracy depends on accountability, not just for individual politicians but for their parties and programs.
    As I noted in 2003, former New York Mayor Ed Koch summed up the principle nicely. During the disastrous tenure of his successor, David Dinkins, Koch was asked whether he would run again. Koch replied: “No! The people threw me out, and now the people must be punished.”
    That logic applies even more for recalls. If California had had its fiscal reckoning in 2004 or 2005, the state — and the country — would be much better prepared to deal with its economic problems than it is now. The Democratic Party in general, and the public sector unions in particular, would have been held accountable for their manifest failures, and instead of replacing Davis with a nominal Republican, voters would have been given a clearer choice.

    The problem is, voters tossed Gray Davis because of an energy price problem and a widening budget deficit. And the voters recalled Davis and elected a Republican to supposedly get the fiscal house in order. The recall election positioned Republicans to lead the fiscal reckoning. How would waiting until the next election have accomplished anything different?

  24. gVOR08 says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Actually, Hey Norm seems to have read enough of Jonah Goldberg to know what he is. Once you’re past the graphs you quoted, the Goldberg piece descends into right wing hackery pretty quickly. The recall in CA was bad because it produced Schwarzenegger who didn’t destroy the unions. (Funny, I don’t remember the recall being about that.) And recalling Walker would be bad because he is destroying the unions. (Which he did not campaign on, so it represents a bait and switch on the voters, some of whom might feel they want their votes back.)

    FYI, I come over here occasionally because it is one of the few places one can find conservative (OK, in your case libertarian) commentary that isn’t pretty awful. I occasionally also read NRO online, including Jonah Goldberg, but really just for laughs.

  25. jan says:

    @Hey Norm:

    “Yeah Jan…you are the picture of an open mind. Right. Reading a propogandist like Goldberg is not mind opening. It’s drivel. You might as well read Breitbart. Or the American Spectator. Or Strata-Sphere. You know…the crap you read and swallow whole. “

    Have you now turned into the official ‘Journal Police,’ judging what is worthy or not read? Put a badge on you and you would be nasty!

  26. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    recall election inevitable becomes a political vendetta in which the opposition puts up their supposedly best candidate and spends the election attacking the incumbent’s record rather than offering any real alternative.

    Again, how is this a specific problem to recalls, and not electoral politics in general? You talk about “political vendettas” and “attacks on the incumbents record” as if recalls are never grounded in legitimate policy dispute. Moreover, who’s assessing “political vendettas” versus “legitimate grievance with my representation that requires electoral redress”. Why can’t citizens be left to decide if they want to exercise their democratic powers to remove a taxpayer paid representative?

  27. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Moreover, how do recalls “inevitable[ly]” lead to “political vendetta[s]”? Is this Goldberg’s assertion or yours? Do you hold this to be true, or are you just throwing that out as a rhetorical flourish?

  28. James,

    I can only point you to the empirical evidence from Wisconsin and California. You may disagree with my interpretation of the same.

  29. mantis says:

    Why can’t citizens be left to decide if they want to exercise their democratic powers to remove a taxpayer paid representative?

    I submit that the more you allow the voters to recall elected officials at their whim, the harder governance becomes.

    Imagine you are a governor who needs to put some long-term policies in action to deal with pressing problems in your state. If you do what is necessary, you can be recalled quickly for doing so, long before the policies you are implementing have had a chance to make an impact. And now that we are in a free-for-all world of campaign finance, groups from outside your state can and will massively outspend you in the recall campaign. So why should you bother to try to deal with any difficult problems? Why should your state legislature bother to work with you?

    If I found myself in a job where no matter what I did, a large group of people would try to get me fired immediately, I would try to do as little as possible while giving the appearance that I’m hard at work (and searching for a new job).

  30. Rob in CT says:

    My gut reaction is to agree that recalls are generally bad ideas. That said, there haven’t been very many have there? 2003 CA, 2012 WI. Is there some epidemic of these things of which I’m unaware?

    Goldberg is less that worthless. But even mendacious hacks can fluke into the “right” position occasionally. It’s harder to be wrong about everthing, all the time.

  31. Nikki says:

    @mantis:

    If I found myself in a job where no matter what I did, a large group of people would try to get me fired immediately, I would try to do as little as possible while giving the appearance that I’m hard at work (and searching for a new job).

    If you are elected governor and go on the job with these concerns, why the heck did you run for office in the first place?

  32. al-Ameda says:

    @James:

    @Doug Mataconis: Moreover, how do recalls “inevitable[ly]” lead to “political vendetta[s]“? Is this Goldberg’s assertion or yours? Do you hold this to be true, or are you just throwing that out as a rhetorical flourish?

    I tend to agree that, unless a recall is based on the appearance of corruption, it certainly leads to more intense vendetta-based politics.

    California’s recall had a “good government” component to the recall (a widening deficit), but it also had the seeds of retribution built in too, That is, the CA recall was financed in large part by Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, and it was organized by a well-known conservative radio talk show host.

    The impeachment of Bill Clinton is instructive in that regard too – To this day the public, along strictly partisan lines, either does or does not agree, that Clinton was impeached because of a high crime or misdemeanor. No matter how you feel about the impeachment it is clear that it diminished the stature of Congress, and leads us directly to where we are today, with 2 political parties that do not respect each other.

  33. mantis says:

    If you are elected governor and go on the job with these concerns, why the heck did you run for office in the first place?

    Because running for office usually means you get a term in office within which to accomplish something, not that you’ll face a recall election (and all the non-governance that goes along with it) immediately after trying to do anything.

    Do you see the difference?

  34. James says:

    @mantis: I appreciate that you articulated your view, especially in the way that you did. I think the concerns you raise are valid. You write:

    I submit that the more you allow the voters to recall elected officials at their whim, the harder governance becomes. (emphasis mine)

    I agree with your assertion, for sure, but I think the real key here is “whim.” Are recalls whimsical?

    I think we can agree that capricious recall initiatives damages our democracy, and I think that’s what you’re saying when you write “Because running for office usually means you get a term in office within which to accomplish something, not that you’ll face a recall election.”

    I think the liberal idea of acquiescence of power is fundamental, and I don’t think there’s much debate about that. But! I think we have to first establish if Wisconsin’s (or California’s) recall is whimsical or not, before we can start making judgments about citizens’ democratic powers.

  35. James says:

    @al-Ameda: I like what you’re saying, but I don’t think you’re just describing a problem that’s exclusive to recalls. You write:

    California’s recall had a “good government” component to the recall (a widening deficit), but it also had the seeds of retribution built in too

    I’ve read Ryan Lizza’s piece on Issa, and I don’t doubt that at all. But…well…what high profile election doesn’t contain some “seeds of retribution”? I think we’re seeing a lot high partisanship and polarization. It’s been clear that ‘constitutional hardball’ tactics “– efforts to exploit loopholes or ambiguities in the rules of the game in order to win short-term partisan gains” – are becoming normalized. But I don’t think that’s an issue specific to recalls; I think it’s becoming a general issue of our national politics. I don’t think arguing against the recall process is going to fix the problems of “vendetta-based politics.”

  36. Hey Norm says:

    Jan…you should be able to recognize propoganda without someone judging it for you. Clearly you cannot.

  37. al-Ameda says:

    @James:

    But…well…what high profile election doesn’t contain some “seeds of retribution”? I think we’re seeing a lot high partisanship and polarization.

    You’re right on that, I was going to say much the same, but I thought it would be too obvious. Right now our politics are as close as you can come to a pure Zero-Sum exercise.

    Right now, Republicans perceive that this is their time to run the table, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to finally rollback social programs – begin to privatize MediCare, reduce Medicaid, and perhaps get private accounts into the Social Security system. They see no need to compromise on any of this.

  38. mantis says:

    I think we have to first establish if Wisconsin’s (or California’s) recall is whimsical or not, before we can start making judgments about citizens’ democratic powers.

    Indeed. I for one think neither recall was necessary, and I think California’s was a disaster. I’m not necessarily saying all recall elections are bad, but I do think the barriers for calling one should be so significant that people won’t want to put forth the effort unless the officeholder they wish to recall is really egregious.

    In short, recalls should be use for officeholders who do things far worse than “enact policies I don’t like.” I’m thinking about either illegalities that go unpunished by a friendly legislature or legal but immoral acts that the voters cannot accept. That kind of thing.

  39. Jenos Idanian says:

    I think, in honor of Norm’s policy, we should simply see his name and ignore his comments, as we all know what he’s going to say. Fair enough?

  40. Ron Beasley says:

    Here in Oregon the only recalls we have had is for city council members in small towns. It is the initiative that has become a problem. About 80% of them lose and they lose over and over again.

  41. ernieyeball says:

    The legislature in Illinois removed Rod Blagojevich from office far faster than any recall effort would have, for example.

    Listen this is “The Prairie State”.
    We just can’t have corrupt polititions serving in public office once we finally figure out what a bunch of weazels they can be!

    http://articles.marketwatch.com/2011-12-07/economy/30779893_1_illinois-gov-political-corruption-bribery

  42. jan says:

    @mantis:

    I agree Mantis.

    I think CA’s Gray Davis’s recall shouldn’t have happened. By letting him at least finish his term, he would have been able to see his policies through the time that people elected him to, giving him a fair chance of implementation. The same goes for Walker of WI.

  43. @Doug Mataconis:

    Perhaps being willing to have an open mind to opposing opinions would be a good thing for you.

    There’s also a saying that one can have so open a mind that one’s brain falls out; taking the Doughy Pantload at all seriously falls under that heading.

  44. MBunge says:

    1. What exactly does Jonah Goldberg have to do to get people to stop giving him any legitimacy? Seriously, what does the man have to do? He’s not a good writer. He’s not an insightful thinker. He’s pretty much a massive tool that’s just getting toolier as he ages. The dude wrote a book on fascism that will actually make you stupider on the subject. What the hell is it going to take?!?!

    2. There’s nothing wrong with recall elections in the exact same way there’s nothing wrong with the filibuster. There is no set of rules or procedures that can survive people out to willfully exploit them for their own selfish benefit at everyone else’s expense. It would seem to me that campaigning on one agenda and then pursuing a distinctly different agenda after winning office is a perfectly good justification for a recall election. Tolerating a “Gotcha, suckers!” approach to politics strikes me as far more problematic than the occasional special election.

    Mike

  45. Barry says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Doug, we have open minds. We just don’t have minds so open that our brains fall out. Goldberg is a consistent source of right-wing intellectual garbage.

  46. Barry,

    And yet you probably think that Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, and Lawrence O’Donnell are “intellectuals.” It would be sad if it weren’t so idiotically partisan

  47. Barry says:

    @CB: Or voter accountability – when a GOP governor gets in an starts pillaging and ALECing, voters have a way of getting rid of him before he’s trashed the entire place.

  48. Barry says:

    @mattb: “But a broken clock can still be right twice a day.”

    So do you keep broken clocks around? Do you pay money for them? If you were looking at a clock, and remembered that it was broken, would you rely on what it says?

  49. Barry says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “Fair points, but if there is corruption and illegal activity going on there are other methods for removing a politician from office. The legislature in Illinois removed Rod Blagojevich from office far faster than any recall effort would have, for example. ”

    And a GOP legislature will removed Walker how soon?

  50. Barry says:

    @James H: “There’s also a nastiness in recall elections; because they’re essentially a negative vote on an incumbent (as opposed to a positive vote on a challenger), the opposition feels free to go over the top”

    Have you not noticed the GOP? They start at nasty and vile, and go down from there – and that’s when they hold office.

  51. Barry,

    Please name the impeachable offenses Walker has committed and provide links to non-partisan news sources detailing the same.

  52. Barry says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “I am responding to Goldberg’s argument rather than choosing to engage in ad hominem attacks. ”

    Please bother to learn the meaning of ‘ad hominem’.

    That Goldberg is (a) regularly wrong and (b) dishonest are valid reasons to not trust what he says.

  53. Barry says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “Please name the impeachable offenses Walker has committed and provide links to non-partisan news sources detailing the same. ”

    Please go to hell, Doug.

  54. Barry,

    My post is about recall elections, not Jonah Goldberg. Please try to restrict your comments to things relevant to the subject matter of the post since I am not going to sit here and debate you about Mr. Goldberg.

  55. Barry,

    You have answered my question. You have nothing.

  56. PD Shaw says:

    @Barry: “That Goldberg is (a) regularly wrong and (b) dishonest are valid reasons to not trust what he says. . . .”

    . . . is a good example of the ad hominem fallacy, it is an argument directed “to the person” not the claim.

  57. Nikki says:

    @mantis: No. Once in office, If the policies you craft reflect the message on which you campaigned, then you should have no fear that the voters will be displeased. You’re doing what you promised the voters you would do. That’s not what Scott Walker did. He campaigned on one thing and did something else entirely different once he got into office. For that, recall is nothing less than he deserves.

  58. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Nikki: No. Once in office, If the policies you craft reflect the message on which you campaigned, then you should have no fear that the voters will be displeased. You’re doing what you promised the voters you would do. That’s not what Scott Walker Barack Obama did. He campaigned on one thing and did something else entirely different once he got into office. For that, recall is nothing less than he deserves.

    FIFY.

    Seriously… Walker ran on a “rein in the gross abuses by the public sector unions” platform. And that’s what he’s done.

  59. mattb says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    And yet you probably think that Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, and Lawrence O’Donnell are “intellectuals.” It would be sad if it weren’t so idiotically partisan

    What’s your blind spot with Rachel Maddow Doug?

    I realize that she’s a pundit. But considering that she was a graduate of Standford, a Rhodes Scholar, and completed a PhD in Poli Sci from Oxford, she had some serious intellectual cred. Not to mention the fact that she got where she was without family connections (something that folks like Goldberg or Kristol can’t say).

    By all means doubt Schultz, Hayes, and O’Donnell’s intellectual credentials. Ditto Goldbergs. But Maddow earned hers — and she is at least as much of a political intellectual as the late Mr Buckley was.

  60. mattb,

    Too bad her commentary, and her show (which at least started out pretending to have “balance”) has turned into a one hour advertisement for the Democratic National Committee.

    I guess selling your soul has some benefits, I hope it works out for her

  61. al-Ameda says:

    @Barry:

    @Doug Mataconis: “Please name the impeachable offenses Walker has committed and provide links to non-partisan news sources detailing the same. ”

    So, you can’t answer the question?
    I don’t like Walker at all but I cannot think of anything he has done that is an impeachable offense.

  62. WR says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Maddow was a Rhodes scholar. So yeah, I think it’s fair to call her an intellectual.

    Assuming that you actually meant this, and weren’t just having a childish tantrum.

  63. @WR:
    Rachel Maddow you covered; Chris Hayes attended Brown and was Adjunct Professor of English at St. Augustine College in Chicago, and while Augustine doesn’t seem to be one of great colleges of all time, his history doesn’t exactly make him Thicky McStupid.

    Lawrence O’Donnell went to Harvard, so he’s presumably no slouch. Ed Schultz is a self-made man of sorts and not known for his intellectual pursuits, which means one could plausibly call him not an intellectual.

    So it appears that Doug was, in fact, being passive-aggressive and pissy, as he often is when challenged.

  64. jan says:

    The recalls in WI proved to be an overreach by the dems and the public sector unions. Having said that Kleefisch just made the following statement, conveyed by a tweet:

    Schneider_CM:
    Kleefisch at the podium: “Years from now, they will say we began to take back America tonight!@

    She’s right.

  65. jan says:

    Another more humorous tween, regarding the WI recall elections:

    DanRiehl:
    RT @Doc_0: Breaking: Union bosses launch petition to recall the population of Wisconsin and replace them with Chicagoans. [via Twitter

    They would, if they could, too! Because, it’s all about power and pressure. If the unions lose that, then they become common folk.

  66. Xenos says:

    @al-Ameda:

    I don’t like Walker at all but I cannot think of anything he has done that is an impeachable offense.

    You walked into a trap here – Walker is not being impeached, so that is not the issue here. Impeachment involves meeting some sort of evidentiary standard regarding illegality of some kind.

    A recall is simply a recall – a forcing of a new election, presumably because a significant portion of the electorate concludes that a governor has illegitimately won office, such as by lying about their actual policy positions and what they would do in office. Arguable this fits the bill for Wisconsin, as Walker ran a campaign about creating jobs and then proceeded to attack unions, which as pretty indirect and ineffective way to create jobs.

    As for Davis, he was utterly unable to deal with California’s energy crisis (understandably, in retrospect, due to the rigged market Enron had created) and raised fees that he has specifically claimed in his campaign that he would not raise. The recall would not have happened had Issa not wanted to make himself governor, but you can’t stop all rich fools from wasting their money.

  67. mattb says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Too bad her commentary, and her show (which at least started out pretending to have “balance”) has turned into a one hour advertisement for the Democratic National Committee.

    Just out of curiosity, would you say the same thing about Buckley and his work with the National Review?

    And is there any political pundit you actually respect who didn’t sell their soul? Sullivan? Nah he’s part of the homosexual agenda and bounces to whatever pub pays the highest. Maybe Larison… but he writes for Buchanan’s pub.

    Oh wait, let me guess, a plucky little GOPer in Libertarian’s clothing who writes for OTB. He’s the last political writer with his soul in tact.

  68. mattb says:

    Hmmm… snarks a little high tonight… must be the combination of the second beer and way too much CSS slinging.

    Doug, me thinks your standards take us to a slippery slope which damns pretty much everyone out there.

    And so, as usual, it’s a pox on bot their houses but I’ll continue to vote Republican because I could never imagine voting for a Democrat.

    BTW — serious question — did you vote for one of the two major party presidential nominee’s in 2008? I’m not interested in knowing who you pulled the lever for. Only if you pulled it for one of the two… or did you do a write in?

  69. James Joyner says:

    @Dustin:

    Until I see recalls are actually abused, I think talks like this are just sour grapes.

    Except that Goldberg opposed the recall of a Democrat in 2003 under the same principles. So did I. And, in terms of outcomes, Republicans won both times. I still think it’s a bad idea.

  70. MBunge says:

    @PD Shaw: “. . . is a good example of the ad hominem fallacy, it is an argument directed “to the person” not the claim.”

    So, when some is is regularly wrong and dishonest, that should never be mentioned?

    The social injunction against ad hominem is not meant to be a free pass for liars and buffoons.

    Mike

  71. mantis says:

    So, when some is is regularly wrong and dishonest, that should never be mentioned?

    No, it just shouldn’t be used as an argument. If Goldberg says the sky is blue, and your response is “Goldberg is a liar, therefore the sky is not blue,” then you have employed a fallacious ad hominem argument.

    Likewise in this case. Goldberg may or may not be right that recall elections are a bad idea, but it has nothing to do with whether he can be trusted or not. That just doesn’t matter.

    If someone were to say, “I think recall elections are great because they give more power to voters! Also, Jonah Goldberg is a lying sack of shit,” then no problem. That’s an argument and a personal opinion about the opposing side’s trustworthiness. However, “Golberg is a lying sack of shit, therefore recall elections are awesome” is ad hominem nonsense.

  72. MBunge says:

    @mantis: “Goldberg may or may not be right that recall elections are a bad idea, but it has nothing to do with whether he can be trusted or not. That just doesn’t matter.”

    It has everything to do with it because every second we have to spend on a lying buffoon like Goldberg, after it’s been amply established that he’s deceitful and not at all bright, is harmful to our public discourse.

    People haul out cliches about how you have to fight lies with the truth or battle bad speech with good. That only works, though, if at some point lies and bad speech are recognized as such and the people who propagate them are held accountable. Lies have to be called lies. Bad speech has to be called bad speech. Stupid and irrational arguments have to be labeled as such. Those who promote such things must be dealt with accordingly. If truth-tellers and liars are treated the same, if rational voices and irrational cranks are given equal time and consideration, how exactly is one ever supposed to win out over the other?

    Mike

  73. mantis says:

    @MBunge:

    It has everything to do with it because every second we have to spend on a lying buffoon like Goldberg

    Faulty premise. You don’t have to spend any time on Goldberg. Not one moment. You can ignore him. You can ignore Doug quoting him. You can ignore it all, and if enough people ignore Goldberg, he will cease to be a voice anyone quotes.

    If truth-tellers and liars are treated the same, if rational voices and irrational cranks are given equal time and consideration, how exactly is one ever supposed to win out over the other?

    Creatively. Do you think that influential liars were just invented? They’ve been around forever.

  74. Eric Florack says:

    Recall Elections Are Disruptive And Unnecessary

    Where was this judgement prior to the left having their collectivist asses handed them?

  75. racehorse says:

    How about a recall of Mayor Bloomberg so that the people can decide themselves what to eat and drink, and how much.

  76. Eric Florack says:

    consider it this way…. had the recall ever been successul in removing Walker, would we even be asking if recalls were worthwhile? what, then, would be the mark of a worthwhile recall effort? would a recall effortat removing someone left of center, ifit succeeded, be considered worthwhile? what if it failed?

    is the measure of a worthwhile to be political vengeance or the will of the people? seems to be the reason this is coming up now is because political vengeance was denied…. because the people were heard from.

    so again I say…funny how this question didnt comeup till the leftists had theircollecivist butts handed them.

    if we are to believe the implication of the question, the reason the recall efforts failed was because the system is flawed. of course, this ignores /denies the idea that the ppl bringing the challenge did not have the support of voters. leftist will never admit that they lose because their ideas are flawed. No, it’s the system is flawed.