Oh no! Mary Burke is rich! The hypocrisy!

Around the same time Tea Party Republicans were marking their territory by peeing on their next-door neighbor’s electric fence, former Trek executive and Commerce Secretary Mary Burke announced she will challenge Scott Walker in the 2014 gubernatorial election.

On a superficial level, she looks like a good candidate. She’s got business bona fides and enough government experience to make her seem relevant without giving her the stench of an inside-the-Beltline pol. Even better, she’s rich, which means she should be able to bankroll her own campaign, even as wealthy special interests bulldoze cash into Gov. Walker’s coffers.

Unfortunately, there’s no greater betrayal in conservative-land than being a wealthy person who consorts with Democrats, and such brazen perfidy must be punished.

Indeed, Republicans go a little nuts — even more so than usual — whenever a one-percenter votes against his or her own interests. In their parochial world — where it’s taken as an article of faith that upper-class tax cuts would have been Jesus’ preferred leper-healing regimen if only he’d read Ayn Rand sooner — wealthy Democrats are wild-eyed heretics who hate themselves and the privilege they rode in on.

Locally, we saw this when right-wing über-banshee and World War II internment fan Michelle Malkin attacked Epic’s Judith Faulkner for having the temerity to meet with President Obama.

And if you’re ever fortunate enough to find yourself in a conversation with a regular Fox News viewer, you’ll be lucky to make it 10 minutes before he brings up the glistening, sprawling dragon hoards of George Soros, Al Gore, or the Kennedys.

So sure enough, the backlash was immediate when Burke announced her candidacy. You see, Mary Burke is a bicycle heiress, and liberals allegedly hate rich people. Oh, the hypocrisy! How can we have a decent class war when Mary Moneybags is in the trenches polishing her diamond slippers with charcoal-filtered Peruvian orphan tears?

For instance, at newstalk1130.com, WISN’s Dan O’Donnell ripped into the “hypocrisy” of liberals who evidently excuse Burke’s wealth while abhorring Mitt Romney’s:

You see, because Romney hasn’t used his personal fortune for good, he is an evil one-percenter. Never mind that he actually created Bain Capital, while Burke merely inherited money from her father (which is normally the type of one-percenter the left hates the most), Burke is a good rich person while Romney is not.

Why? Because of the L or R after their names, of course! So long as a wealthy individual is a Democratic movie star, athlete, environmental crusader, or [gasp!] even industrialist, then their money is excused.

But heaven forbid that a wealthy Republican business executive run for office! They are evil “vulture capitalists” who made their money off of the backs of poor people.

First of all, “vulture capitalist” is a pretty spot-on descriptor for Romney. Just read this Rolling Stone piece by Matt Taibbi — or ask Rick Perry.

Secondly, most Democrats couldn’t care less how much money a politician has. They care about what policies he or she supports. In Wisconsin, we elected Herb Kohl, for God’s sake. In 2000, Democrats came out in droves for Gore. And all a Kennedy needs to do to get elected to Congress in this country is remember to remove the coke spoon from his nose before showing up for the debates.

The idea that Democrats despise success and wealth is a paranoid fantasy hatched by a party that has long equated supporting an estate tax and a progressive income tax with class warfare. What Democrats do despise is a system that continues to funnel wealth upwards at a historic clip — all at the expense of the middle class and working poor.

Sure, there’s a lot of appeal to a candidate — like Bill Clinton or Barack Obama — who made it mostly on his or her own steam, but there’s nothing wrong with a wealthy contender who fights for progressive policies.



What’s worse? A candidate like Ms. Burke who would presumably work against her own narrow interests for the greater good, or one like Mitt Romney, who sought to protect his considerable wealth and privilege at the expense of the country?  

Saying Democrats are hypocrites for supporting Burke is like saying supporters of Mother Teresa were hypocrites because she never had cholera or rickets. How dare that white European busybody come down from her high horse and stoop to help those people? Shouldn’t she be summering in the Hamptons with the Trumps?

Just because Republicans have dreamed up a phony class war — which they’ve already won, by the way — doesn’t mean the rest of us have to play along. Just like their policies, their rhetoric makes little sense.

Obamacare is working — for some

Obamacare’s rollout has been less than smooth, to put it lightly. In the first couple of weeks since the exchanges went live, Healthcare.gov has struggled to keep up with traffic, and the administration has more than a little ’splaining to do.

So with plenty of legitimate flaws to criticize, you’d think for once Fox News’ Sean Hannity wouldn’t have to resort to making stuff up. But he’s pathological. He just can’t help himself.

This Salon.com piece is a must-read. The author, Eric Stern, who served as a health care advisor to former Montana governor Brian Schweitzer, saw a Hannity segment on the pain average Americans were allegedly experiencing because of Obamacare. Hannity interviewed three couples, and they all had horror stories.

Unfortunately for Hannity, Stern followed up.

One of Hannity’s guests claimed he couldn’t grow his construction business because of Obamacare. But with only four employees, the guest wasn’t subject to Obamacare’s employer mandate and was unable to explain how the law actually affected him.

Meanwhile, Hannity’s other two guests claimed that they were losing their current health insurance policies because of Obamacare. Stern called them, too, and they admitted that they hadn’t yet shopped on the ACA exchanges. So Stern checked out the exchanges for them — and found out that both couples could benefit greatly from the health care marketplaces, potentially saving 60% and 63% per year, respectively.

Meanwhile, Mother Jones’ David Corn has been compiling tweets from people who have shopped on the exchanges and come out smelling like a rose.

Of course, you’ll never hear any of this information on Fox News, whose health care reform misinformation campaign has been relentless. That’s not to say Obamacare supporters can declare victory yet, by any means. But to say that it’s been an unmitigated disaster for everyone is simply B.S.

Click here to sign up for the free IB ezine – your twice-weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. If you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.