You would have thought, watching the protests in Wisconsin months ago, that the sky was falling on the Badger State, due to the draconian budget policies of new Governor Scott Walker. The atmosphere was so steamy that it led to recall elections for six state legislators.
Now the results are in, and Republicans managed to hang on to four of the six seats that were up for recall, which means they also retain, by the slimmest of margins, control of their state Senate.
Is the glass half full or half empty for the Democrats and their union supporters who pushed for the recalls? One could argue that they didn't do poorly. They did, after all, manage to get the recall elections moving, no small feat. And they did win two of the six seats.
But in politics, perception is reality. The Democrats set out to win back control of the state Senate. They didn't get it. They pushed for the recall elections with a passionate cry of "wolf, wolf!" -- Gov. Walker's (and Republicans') policies were set to devour comfort and peace in cities, towns, municipalities, individual homes.
The problem is....there was no wolf. Or, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (no conservative bastion) put it: The "sky isn't falling."
In fact, in an editorial posted online yesterday, the leading grafs were:
So it turns out that the sky isn't going to fall on all local governments in Wisconsin. The numbers now starting to come in show that Gov. Scott Walker's "tools" for local governments apparently will help at least some of them deal with cuts in state aid imposed by the state budget.
That's contrary to the expectation and the rhetoric of critics in the spring, and it's to Walker's credit. It bears out the governor's assessment of his budget-repair bill, although we still maintain he could have reached his goals without dealing a body blow to public employee unions.
The Journal didn't support (and still doesn't) Gov. Walker's policy on collective bargaining, by the way.
So, the Democrats didn't get the state Senate back, and their main point -- that the Republican policies were too extreme -- finds a dissenter in a major editorial.
Even with the two recall wins they did manage to rack up, Democrats still have the whiff of defeat about them. On the Morning Joe show today, even liberal radio host Bill Press acknowledged as much. They lost.
It remains to be seen, however, whether this means the Republicans now have the wind at their back.