Since the failure of the recall election against Scott Walker, I've become more and more interested in bipartisan and nonpartisan movements. I've come to the conclusion that a lot of sensible people are just tired of the partisan fights and the hollow rhetoric.
One of the champions of that way of thinking has been State Senator Tim Cullen, a Democrat from Janesville. Having already had a political career as a Democratic Senate Majority Leader, Human Services Secretary in Republican Governor Tommy Thompson's administration and in the private sector as a health care executive, Cullen's return to office a couple of years ago was a welcome development. It looked like he could be the kind of adult that the legislature needed.
But Sen. Cullen's action of yesterday is not what I'm looking for in an independent voice. In fact, the whole idea of independence is to get beyond the petty partisan (or in this case intra-party) sniping, and deal with serious issues that people really care about.
Instead, Cullen threw a fit yesterday because he didn't get the committee assignments he wanted, and now threatens to leave the Democratic caucus and become an independent.
Cullen committed what I feel is one of the cardinal sins of politics, pretending to be "insulted" by his assignments. Any pol or activist who claims to be insulted by anything is a whiner. Politics is a tough game, and if you're easily insulted you should take up knitting.
Moreover, all of this is a lot of bluster over nothing.
In the first place, the Democratic committee assignments are purely academic. The Senate will not reconvene until next year, so the committee assignments mean virtually nothing. They might mean more if it was possible that the Democrats were going to maintain their majority come November, but nobody I know who hasn't drunk the Kool-Aid thinks that's likely.
Finally, for Cullen to believe that Senate Majority Leader Mark Miller would give him committee chairmanships or positions occupied by senators in his caucus with more seniority is just unreasonable. Mark Miller is one of the most decent people I know in politics. He tries hard to be fair. If anybody was not trying to play power politics here, it's Mark Miller.
What we need in politics is more adults, more people who don't throw fits when they don't get their way, especially when getting their way amounts to virtually nothing in the first place.
Tim Cullen just took himself from independent hero to disappointment of the year.