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.