Sen. Fitzgerald’s foolish contention that recall challenger Lori Compas isn’t running her own campaign

In the 13th district recall battle between Sen. Majority Leader Fitzgerald and challenger Lori Compas, Fitzgerald recently expressed his doubts about Compas’s control of her own campaign:

For the record, Fitzgerald said he doesn’t buy Compas’ Pollyanna image. He knows some people are painting the race as a David-vs.-Goliath contest.

But Fitzgerald said he thinks her husband is one of the main forces behind her campaign, as well as unions and protest groups. “I don’t for one minute believe she is the organizing force behind this whole thing,” he said.

Fitzgerald’s foolish assertion is that her husband, rather than Compas herself, is one of the main forces behind her campaign. Any person of normal understanding will interpret this one way, and one way only: that Fitzgerald thinks she can’t do what he considers to be a man’s job.

When Fitzgerald speaks this way, he might as well say that Compas should leave the campaign trail, and promptly resume a woman’s station in the kitchen.

That position is both condescending and easily ridiculed as condescending.

Sure enough – within a single day – Compas produced a video mocking Fitzgerald’s narrow, patronizing remark:

I’m involved with neither campaign, but the greater advantage is lack of connection to the Fitzgerald campaign: it saves one an embarrassing association with another of his gaffes.

I’d guess that Fitzgerald will remain the favorite in this Republican-leaning district, but he sounds worse every time he tries to speak on his own. Far from Compas needing to rely on her husband, Fitzgerald would do well to rely on his wife, or any other overly-generous woman who can endure his views.

I’ve written about Compas before, most recently after she attended a Democrats’ forum at UW-Whitewater. See, The Democrats’ Recall Forum @ UW-Whitewater (Compas and Jorgensen edition).

Her views are not my own. No matter: someone listening to Compas for even a few minutes would know that she was presenting her own remarks, of her own design. A candidate writing her own remarks is doing still more, and thus running her own campaign.

(From my recent post: “She read from prepared remarks, rather than extemporaneously, but spoke well and easily. Her remarks were obviously her own, and Compas read them with a familiarity that made looking at them necsssary only briefly.
In this way, she would step back from the lectern, and then occasionally move toward it, in a kind of gavotte. I’d never coach someone to do this, but it was surprisingly innocuous, and almost effective.”)

There’s not the slighest chance Lori Compas’s remarks were not her own. If they were another’s, she would either have stayed closer to the lectern throughout, or tried to memorize the address in a way that would have produced a stilted, halting cadence. Her delivery was that of someone who wrote her own words, and then wanted independence from the podium by stepping back occasionally. A more polished speaker would have navigated the podium more effectively, but her words were surely her own.

Predictably, Compas’s campaign unsettles Fitzgerald (“I’m sure Fitzgerald resents her candidacy, her imposition on his time, his moment, his influence. She must seem something between impertinent and alien to him.”)

Fitzgerald is mistaken to think she’s merely a Pollyanna; it’s closer to the truth to say he’s cynical.

(Again: “She’s smart, but here’s her great strength: she’s evidently and manifestly sincere. If one comes away with a single impression, it’s that she means what she says. That doesn’t make her right, but it does make her politically effective.”)

The majority party controls Wisconsin’s executive office, both chambers of the legislature, with a conservative majority on the state’s supreme court.

Yet for all the majority’s advantages, Lori Compas has Scott Fitzgerald rattled.

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