Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"Owens could not be reached for comment Tuesday."

Like many people, when I heard the news of Carol Owens impending retirement I gasped then thought to myself, "But who will stand with Teno Groppi to defend Winnebago County from the gay menace?"

I have no love for Carol Owens, but still spent the better part of yesterday evening trying to come up with some good things to say about her. She's spent the better part of the last two decades in public service -- that's pretty noble, right?

Well, yeah, except Owens wasn't making any great sacrifice (except maybe the inconvenience of driving down to Madison every now and then) by going from retirement to the state assembly. Owens is a myopic ideologue who did everything she could to drag Wisconsin back into the 19th Century. In fact, if we want to do a little word association right now, the first thing that pops into my head when I think about Carol Owens is "hate." She hates gays -- I mean really hates gays. Owens apparently refuses to ride in an elevator with Rep. Mark Pocan, an openly gay Representative from Madison. This is no small thing since that scooter of hers isn't getting her up any flights of stairs any time soon.

[Brief aside: I always thought this was kinda strange. Is Owens afraid a gay man will sexually assault her in the elevator? Is she afraid The Gay will rub off on her? Just asking ... ]

Owens also hates immigrants, but who doesn't these days? I'm pretty sure this is what passes for "innovative thinking" within the GOP.

To be fair to Owens, all of this hateful spite is actually derivative of a deeper fundamental problem: a stubborn refusal to adapt to the inevitable change of the times. Six years ago Owens gave an interview in which she referred to African-Americans in Milwaukee as "coloreds" while making some inartful sociological observations. I actually know tons of people, nearly all of whom are very elderly and certainly from another era, who use this expression -- entirely without malice -- in private conversation. It's just what they grew up with. But again, it's used in private conversation. Not on the radio and not coming out of the mouth of an elected official.

Owen's governing principles were just as outdated. She wanted to vainly preserve the world as it was in another time and when it changed she refused to change with it. She obviously thought the rest of the state was just like the farm she grew up on in Wabeno. It's not. Well, as Darwin taught us, creatures that refuse to adapt to only become cul de sacs on Nature's Family Tree.

Then again, I don't know if Carol Owens even believes in Evolution.

Anyway, I looked at the Northwestern's web site today expecting to see a pleasant story tacitly thanking her for her years of service, maybe a brief retrospective of her career blah blah blah. Instead, I found this, 183 words basically acknowledging Owens retirement announcement that was concluded with this rather breathtaking line:

Owens could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

I was flabbergasted. When you work in the public eye, then decide to retire, you're going to get called by the media. That should go into the planning of the announcement. It may only be the Northwestern, but it's going to happen. Not doing so is rude and incredibly bad form.

I can think of three reasons why Owens decided blow off the press yesterday. The first is that giving a retirement announcement is so exhausting that she needed to take a nap afterwards. The second is the I'm-so-humble-that-I-just-didn't-want-to-make-a-big-deal-
out-of-it-thing. Sorry, I don't buy that at all. You may not like doing it, but that's part of the job. Suck it up and get back out on the field ...

So I'm most inclined to believe it's Option (C): that this was Owens' way of saying "Fuck all y'all!" before she made her way back to farm one last time. That doesn't sit too kindly with me, so in keeping with Owens' refusal to take a few softball questions from a local reporter I hope all y'all will understand if I decline to thank her for her years of service, etc.


Real Debate said...

I don't have a clue who Owens is, but let me clue you in on something...

The GOP nor conservative hate immgrants.

We have an issue with ILLEGAL immigrants.

So does a lot of your party...

You might want to look in the mirror on the hate issue though.

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