Much has been said of the highly edited 38-second YouTube video in which Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is caught saying he would “divide and conquer” the state. Listening to critics of the governor, you’d think it was almost like finding the smoking gun still at the scene of the crime.
Democrats say it is irrefutable evidence that Walker is a power-hungry pol. They argue it proves the governor says one thing in public and another in private to some of his biggest campaign donors. They point to the video as proof that Walker is set to enact “right-to-work” legislation, and that Act 10, the law reducing government employee's collective bargaining power, was just the beginning.
What’s amazing about the entire video is that documentary filmmaker Brad Liechtenstein refuses to post the entire video. All he’s given the media is a transcript of the conversation. Yet releasing the full video would provide true context of the conversation between Walker and ABC Supply President Diane Hendricks.
Otherwise, given the current video’s make-up, its reliance on out-of-context editing, and the rapid-response from recall backers to fully exploit it, it’s easy to pinpoint its purpose: Re-energize liberal turnout ahead of the recall.
Liechtenstein has been around the politico-cinematic block going as far back as documentary work for PBS in 1996 on the Clinton-Dole presidential race. He probably has been around long enough to know when he has video which will help promote his project. He'd also know if he has video on his hands that can help promote a cause.
The "ConquerGate" video is pure political catnip for the liberal base—meant to re-energize voters who may have been deflated by the recent Democratic primary and a new wave of polling numbers indicating Walker is likely to win.
The reasoning for the video is simple: to broaden the Democratic conversation from the real purpose of the recall—collective bargaining for public employees—to the more universal theme of Walker's alleged untrustworthiness and hunger for power. Collective bargaining doesn’t move votes. Those aren’t my words, they’re the words of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s Communication Director Graeme Zielisnki in the left-leaning magazine Mother Jones.
So would it be safe to say that while collective bargaining might not be moving votes, it might move people to the polls? Given the response and faux outrage over Walker’s remarks, that appears to be the only reason that a video like this is even released three weeks prior to election day.
Add in news reports that the filmmaker will not allow the full, unedited video to be made available so the public may draw its own conclusions, and it’s hard to argue the video wasn’t built to boost Democratic turnout above all else.
Kevin Binversie is a Wisconsin native who has been blogging on the state’s political culture for more than eight years. This article originally appeared at WisconsinReporter.com.