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Digging yourself a hole

Gov. Scott Walker climbs out of a trench during his new campaign ad, claiming

Gov. Scott Walker climbs out of a trench during his new campaign ad, claiming “It’s a lot harder to dig a hole than to get out of one.” (Screenshot from Walker’s campaign ad/YouTube)

Let’s leave aside for a moment the debate about whether Gov. Scott Walker set a bad example in a recent campaign advertisement video showing him using a ladder to climb out of a trench sans gloves, helmet or other protective gear.

Where were the critics when Walker made perhaps the most dubious claim of them all? The governor starts the 30-second ad by proclaiming, “It’s a lot harder to dig a hole than to get out of one.”

Somebody call Politifact.

Walker “never worked a day in his life,” digging trenches, according to a union press release claiming that formal OSHA complaints had been filed against the governor in response to the unsafe practices shown in the ad.

Well, neither have I.

So, if the press release can be trusted, the governor and I are both starting from the same point of ignorance when it comes to all things related to trench digging. The difference is in assumptions.

Mine would be that moving enough earth to leave behind a 6-foot hold in the ground would be far harder than simply scurrying up a ladder to get out of one. All right, maybe the trench in the ad was carved out using a backhoe.

Still, isn’t there a reason why we make convicts dig ditches?

But maybe we’ve been going about things in the completely wrong way all these years and our penal system is due for some serious reforms. Maybe serving hard time – to really be an effective punishment – shouldn’t entail digging holes but rather having to scale ladders all day. Maybe if digging a hole is so easy and getting out so hard, we should give the shovels to inmates who are in for mere misdemeanors, and leave the exiting to the felons.

Yeah, that’ll show ‘em.

Of course the governor, his defenders will argue, only said what he did to strengthen the ad’s symbolism. If he was going to talk about how hard it was to get out of the hole, it would have been a great opportunity missed if he didn’t also say that his predecessors had such an easy time digging it.

But those defenders should know that nothing said or broadcast in an election season is beyond the reach of nitpickers like me – and the unions.

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