What a year to be a Wisconsinite at the Republican National Convention.
Vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan catapulted our state into the limelight, generating far more enthusiasm than that other guy at the top of the ticket. Gov. Scott Walker got standing ovations everywhere he went. Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, presided over the whole affair with his trademark creepy, nerdy style, which distracted attention from what he was doing - namely, stomping on Ron Paul's delegates and locking in centralized control over the convention by the presidential nominee.
Rebecca Kleefisch could hardly get over herself, promoting the fact that she survived a recall election to become, in her words, "the only lieutenant governor in the country to be elected twice in my first term."
What a party!
Senate hopeful Tommy Thompson, of course, was living it up at a shindig aboard a yacht.
The only discordant note in the whole Wisconsin ber Alles theme was Walker's speech to the convention on Tuesday night.
To Wisconsinites, Walker looks like a right-wing rock star. And judging from the treatment he was getting from delegates to the RNC, you could imagine he's well on his way to national stardom.
Every room he entered during the convention week erupted in applause. He could hardly get the words out to nominate Mitt Romney for our delegation from the floor, the whole hall was cheering so loudly.
But when Walker got his moment on the convention stage, he whiffed it.
He came out to massive cheers and a standing ovation. His tough stand against schoolteachers in Wisconsin, defending the rights of big corporate donors to steamroll ordinary citizens, not to mention undercutting labor's power in elections, naturally make him a Republican hero.
But instead of basking in the glory, Walker rushed through his lines and exited the stage to tepid clapping.
What happened? Turns out Walker, the biggest bully in the Midwest, wasn't ready for prime time.
Walker launched into his speech, which no one could hear over the cheering, with a strange interpretation of the recall election:
"On June 5 voters in my swing state were asked to decide if they wanted elected officials who measured success by how many people were dependent on the government," he said, "or if they wanted leaders who believe success is measured by how many people are not dependent on the government because they control their own destiny in the private sector."
I thought the recall election was about whether Walker really told us he planned to crush public-sector unions on the theory that it would help fix the budget.
Never mind the facts.
Walker went on to claim that he has pulled off an economic miracle in Wisconsin, which doesn't match up with the data.
As everyone in Wisconsin knows, month after month after Walker took office, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released reports showing that Wisconsin's job growth hovered somewhere between nearly the worst and the very worst in the entire country.
The most ironic line in Walker's speech: "Sadly, the country is going in the opposite direction" from Wisconsin.
Right before June 5, desperate to put those abysmal jobs numbers in a better light, Walker rushed out unconfirmed data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages showing the state had added 23,000 jobs. But, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, even this data showed job growth in Wisconsin at 57% of the national rate.
If the country was moving in the opposite direction, it was because it had experienced nearly twice the job-growth rate as Wisconsin.
None of that really matters to the national party. Walker is a star because, as he put it, he "stood up to the special interests" (those greedy schoolteachers again). Republicans love that.
If the outcome doesn't look so great for ordinary Wisconsinites, it's just a taste of what we will get under the Romney-Ryan budget.
Paul Ryan is a much bigger star than Walker, thanks, in part, to the fact that his snake oil hasn't been put to the test.
The Republicans can still pretend that prosperity is just around the corner: All we need are more massive tax cuts for corporations and the very rich, and the liquidation of Medicare.
But if Wisconsin is their shining example, the rest of the country might want to take a closer look at the track record of the governor whose star seemed so bright for just a minute at the Tampa convention.
Ruth Conniff is the political editor of The Progressive. She is in Tampa covering the Republican National Convention.