Monday, June 14, 2010

Stunt Wars: Neumann vs. RPW

I attended the Democratic Party of Wisconsin's convention in Middleton over the weekend. I am no expert on political conventions but I enjoyed most of it. Although there were several entertaining moments I have to highlight what I sense is only the first installment in an ongoing Republican production of what I'm dubbing "Stunt Wars". This initial episode involved the Republican Party of Wisconsin vs. their Republican nemesis Mark Neumann.

I don't know who first thought up the rather desperate stunt of showing up at the Democratic Party's convention but both Mark Neumann and the RPW tried to grab some attention that way. On Saturday Mark Neumann showed up with his wife and two supporters (whose identity I don't know). Most people knew about his stunt before it happened so he was greeted and surrounded by Tom Barrett signs. He was allowed to answer questions from the media and he also openly engaged with some of the individuals that surrounded him. Maybe I missed it but he didn't appear to have a handler of any kind trying to control the situation. As a result he was in all of his extremist glory, not appearing to recite a prepared script. After engaging a bit, he went on his way.

It seems that every day brings new revelations of the internal war going on between the Republican Party of Wisconsin establishment and Mark Neumann and his (tea party?) base of support. So I guess I shouldn't be surprised that they would try to out-stunt each other at the Democratic Party's convention.

A couple hours after the Mark Neumann stunt, RPW Executive Director Mark Jefferson showed up with a handler. The only people that seemed remotely interested in Jefferson's (already used) stunt were a few reporters and a few bloggers. Jefferson read his canned talking points in response to any and every question. He made zero effort to actually engage anyone in a substantive way and it appeared that his handler was there to ensure that he didn't get thrown off his script.

After both rather desperate stunts were over, it was clear that Mark Neumann's gained much more attention in every aspect. In fact I had a hard time even finding a few media reports on Jefferson's script reading session. So if we have to declare a winner in the first episode of Stunt Wars, you have to give it to Neumann.

As a public service, we will continue monitoring the Republican Stunt Wars as they are surely going to increase in number and in levels of absurdity.


Anonymous said...

You may not agree with Mark Neumann, but with Mark, what you see is what you get. That's why he didn't have a handler with him. He can fend for himself and communicate with the media and even opponents on his own. I guess that's why I like Mark more than Scott Walker. I think Scott would have been afraid to show up. Good post.

Cory Liebmann said...

however this approach could cut both ways...he is more likely to say everything that he actually believes...much of which I think is pretty extreme.

that may be an asset in the republican primary (particularly when he is facing a phony like walker) but I think it would have the opposite effect in the general.

Anonymous said...

Cory, I agree it could cut both ways. However, I'd rather have a candidate speak his or her mind and lay out what he or she really believes rather than obfuscate their agenda to win an election. As I said before, you may not agree with Mark Neumann, and that's fine by me. However, you do have to respect that he's willing to up front about his beliefs. You cannot say the same about Scott Walker.

Now, on the other hand, you have Tom Barrett, who I actually do respect as a person, but could not vote for him because of some of his stands. He makes no bones about being liberal. He's not a Democrat that hides from his beliefs or tries to obfuscate what he believes. The same goes for former U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone. He was a liberal's liberal, but he was honest about it. I never felt the same way about Jim Doyle, who I always thought was rather disingenuous on the campaign trail.