Sunday, August 25th, 2019

Make the Capitol a dry house


The king doth wake to-night and takes his rouse,
Keeps wassail, and the swaggering up-spring reels;
And, as he drains his draughts of Rhenish down,
The kettle-drum and trumpet thus bray out
The triumph of his pledge.

Hamlet I, iv

The bars in Madison will be celebrating a happy hour tonight. A threat far more dangerous than a smoking ban or even draconian enforcement of the drinking age has passed by their doors. State Representative Bob Ziegelbauer is the only member of the state legislature to sign a pledge that, if caught drinking and driving, a resignation would follow. One can imagine the relieved sighs of barkeeps from one end of Madison to the other, relieved that their clientele would still be able to order a third and a fourth, or maybe an entire fifth.

What? What? A promise that if broken would call for consequences? Public good be damned, and off to the public house! One can imagine the panic of state politicians wobbling on bar stools as word spread of the Wausau students circulating the pledge. “They’re sincere, and they have a good cause!” Next someone will suggest breathylizers in the caucus rooms, they worried.

Fortunately for them, Governor Jim Doyle was willing to provide them cover and an excuse. They all agreed with the governor for the first time since his election. “Let the voters judge our behavior!” And should the voters do so, “It’s none of their damn business!”

If the legislature is unwilling to take the state’s drunk driving problem seriously, it’s perhaps because too many members take the issue personally.

This heavy-headed revel east and west
Makes us traduced and tax’d of other nations:
They clepe us drunkards, and with swinish phrase
Soil our addition; and indeed it takes
From our achievements, though perform’d at height,
The pith and marrow of our attribute.
So, oft it chances in particular men,
That for some vicious mole of nature in them,
As, in their birth–wherein they are not guilty,
Since nature cannot choose his origin–
By the o’ergrowth of some complexion,
Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason,
Or by some habit that too much o’er-leavens
The form of plausive manners, that these men,
Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect,
Being nature’s livery, or fortune’s star,–
Their virtues else–be they as pure as grace,
As infinite as man may undergo–
Shall in the general censure take corruption
From that particular fault: the dram of eale
Doth all the noble substance of a doubt
To his own scandal.


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