This move is going to make political consultants’ skin crawl.
A group of Republican leaders in Wisconsin‘s 7th Congressional District have issued an “ultimatum” to the two declared candidates in the race, calling on them to refrain from personal attacks in their campaigns.
The ultimatum states that if its terms are violated, the leaders of county parties will “sever relations with the offending candidate” by denying him access to space in campaign headquarters, speaking opportunities and other campaign platforms.
Odd. Personal attacks are the guiding principle of the modern Republican Party. You’d think a primary would simply be a great opportunity for candidates to demonstrate their party credentials by sliming the shit out of their opponents.
Also, the last time Wisconsin Republicans tried the solidarity gimmick the eventual nominee got stomped by Russ Feingold. In a Republican year too. But the Democratic competition in this race, David Obey, is completely different. He’s only been in Congress for 40 years and chairs something called the House Appropriations Committee. He’s due for a loss right?
That of course brings us to the Republican candidates themselves. First we’ve got Sean Duffy, a former cast member of MTV’s The Real World. But that was 12 years ago – he’s totally into other things now. Like commentating on ESPN lumberjack competitions. Duffy says he’s cool with the personal attack prohibition. He just wants to “talk about the issues.” He doesn’t want drama, ok?
Next there’s Dan Mielke, a farmer-businessman for Congress! Mielke has a website that was pretty obviously self-made, which means it would be a snazzy website 10 years ago. He sums up opposition to the war this way:
To politically cut the budget to force an end to a war is, in my view, deserting our soldiers and those who do so are guilty of treason and murder.
I’m not certain but I’m fairly confident that he hired Stephen Colbert for some metaphor consulting:
There once was a hunting dog chained to a pole in the yard. Congressman Obey wanted that dog to hunt so he increased the size of the collar and added weights to the chain. He put a new roof on the community doghouse and poured a sidewalk to the woods to make it easier for the dog to get there. But the dog still wouldn’t hunt. In the process, Congressman Obey cut the dog’s food and water in half, which made the dog hungry and mean, but the dog still wouldn’t hunt. I took a look into the pleading eyes of this dog, and I became outraged and found fault with his efforts.
Obey, hearing of my complaint, angrily blurted out as he usually does, “All people do is complain and find fault. If Dan Mielke is so smart, why doesn’t he do something?” So, I did! I grabbed my gun, unhooked the chain and called the dog by name. Come on, ”America,” let’s go hunting. And we did.
Mielke is not down with eliminating personal attacks from his political arsenal. He argued that the decision by party leaders was a way to “manipulate or hide information about the candidates from people.”