In The News
Klee-fwha? Rebwho? That required recall sideshow
By Dominique Paul Noth
Editor, Labor Press
Posted December 7, 2011
Unquestionably the recall of Gov. Scott Walker roars ahead, but ticking more slowly along with it is Rebecca why?
This is the under-the radar state recall campaign - to the shock of both sides.
Her invisibility to the public is not just embarrassing to Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, it emphasizes how even back in 2010 everyone was focused on the Humpty Dumpty atop the wall.
How disappointing for the perky brunet, arch-conservative, self-described Palin-like Grizzly Mamma, former morning TV anchor with the deer-in-headlight stare who popped up with Scott Walker in 2010 campaign ads and boasted in her own commercial that the state didn't need federal health care or $810 million in rail money ("I'm a mom, I've got a minivan").
Personally, I thought the public would laugh so hard at that one that they would have to remember her. Turns out not. None of her media strutting apparently lit up the state's memory bank, judging from door to door responses.
Citizens are quick to sign up to recall Gov. Scott Walker – they fall all over themselves, they bury shivering clipboard holders with thousands of sign-ups in a six-block walk, they even leave signed petitions in the neighborhood bar (which obviously voids them).
But when it comes to Kleefisch - who would step in if the governor dies -- they keep asking, huh? Even Barbara Lawton didn't go through this -- most knew she was Doyle's running mate, but maybe because she spoke up for women and clearly did polite battle with the governor to express her own views, she was quite memorable. Liberals liked her and conservatives openly spit.
Kleefisch on the other hand can't seem to defer often enough to Walker and has clearly been instructed to stay quiet and nigh invisible, except to occasionally push a business friendly agenda or write an op-ed gushing how well Mein Scott is doing.
All this has rendered her both an electoral curiosity and an after-thought. It seems hardly anyone voted for her consciously. They were simply elected together and she isn't even named in the historic wire service election returns.
But all this has revealed how fair-minded Wisconsinites are. They keep asking petition distributors, "What's she done?" (Not much, alas). And "Why a separate petition?" For that, blame GOP Atty. Gen. J.B. Van Hollen. He ruled that while the duo was elected together (you could sign one box and get ‘em both), separate petitions are now required. A constitutional nightmare looms if the state recalls him and leaves a new Democratic governor with a lame duck Republican heir no one can remember.
So let’s remember a little. Despite her TV credentials, Kleefisch was nowhere as good at glossing over her real agenda and rabid intentions as Walker was. Her high energy social norms were actually starting to cost him votes until he gently cast her aside on the 2010 campaign trail.
Kleefisch briefly sidetracked the Walker bandwagon in October 2010 with her extremist opinions in a radio interview when she compared gays to a clock or chair. No kidding. Direct quote, which she later claimed was taken out of context: "At what point are we going to okay marrying inanimate objects? Can I marry this table, or this - you know, clock? Can we marry dogs?"
Out of context, eh?
Her other claim to fame was cancer. She now says she beat it, for which voters of all stripes are grateful. No one would make political hay over disease, would they? I mean, leaving aside Republicans and Obama’s health plan.
But she didn't reveal her illness to the world or even her running mate until after she had won her GOP primary --at which point she also slammed Obama's affordable care act. (Which is easy to do when you can afford it.) Several of her primary opponents were quietly disturbed that she never told voters of her health issue even when she had a tumor removed two days before the primary, but none wisely made an issue of it. She assures the public that after chemo the colon cancer is gone.
Kleefisch's “no-there-there” reputation may be an advantage right now since everyone is so focused on getting rid of Walker and can't even think of the consequences of her hanging around. But the consequences are pretty bizarre if the recall petitions fail to force her to face a Democratic challenger (or prevent Walker from replacing her on the ticket with a less flawed GOP candidate).
If you need more motive than pending constitutional madness, check out YouTube and how her GOP husband, Rep. Joel Kleefisch, also a former TV newsman, has become an accidental star of the mean look. In those videos toward the end he is the surly, stocky self-appointed sergeant-at-arms on the Assembly floor glowering up at quiet protesters.
Some viewpoints are all in the family.
A shorter version of this article appears in the ACTION! recall newspaper available under the Take Action menu.