The "you suck" heard around the world
I’ve been keeping an update on anyone and everyone who’s commented on the debate yesterday on Charlie Sykes’ program on WTMJ between former federal prosecutor JB Van Hollen and Waukesha DA Paul Bucher, the Republican candidates for Wisconsin Attorney General. During an on-air break Van Hollen, frustrated by Bucher’s interuptions, said, “Will you ever listen? That’s why you suck, Paul, because you only listen to people who agree with you.” Van Hollen has since issued a press release declaring victory (really) but apologizing for his language. He also told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he apologizes and Paul Bucher accepted.
This is not the first blow-up during one of Charlie Sykes’ radio debates. One of the more famous blow-ups occurred when then State Representative Mary Lazich went gonzo attacking Brian Manthey of lying about her record. And I gotta say, compared to Lazich’s performance, Bucher was positively timid. While Manthey crumbled (he was not a good candidate), I don’t think it was a particularly good performance for Lazich either (for the record, I worked for Lazich during the primary preceding this incident).
Today, the Van Hollen campaign released this letter:
Fight Crime. Restore Integrity.
August 11, 2006
Paul Bucher c/o Bucher for Attorney General VIA EMAIL
Dear Paul, I think you and I can agree that yesterday’s debate did little to advance our shared goal of restoring responsible leadership to the office of the Attorney General. I know I did not appreciate being repeatedly spoken over, interrupted, and called “stupid,” as I’m sure you did not appreciate my inappropriate use of the word “suck.” I think its fair to say neither one of us should be proud of our performances. While we have some legitimate differences, we must stay united in our goal to restore focus and integrity to the office of attorney general. I write with the sincere hope that we can do that. We have now been together in more than 60 forums, almost all of which have allowed good, solid discussions of benefit to the voters. We will be together in several more forums and debates, including:
8/15/- Brookfield Rotary
8/15 . Marathon County forum
8/17 . Milwaukee Southwest Suburban GOP Picnic
8/27 . Dane Co. GOP Picnic
8/29 . Milwaukee County Bar Association Debate in Milwaukee
8/31 . WI Supplier & Development Council Debate in Madison
9/6 or 9/7 . Wis. Politics Debate
I propose some simple ground rules for our remaining joint forums and debates so that they can both be informative to the voters, and meet our shared goal of restoring effective leadership in the AG’s office. I propose the following for our remaining debates/formats:
1. We focus on why new leadership is needed in the AG’s office, and our own visions for what that leadership should be.
2. We agree to a fair allotment of times for exchanges, with no interruptions during the one another.s’ allotted times.
3. As we compare our respective experiences and backgrounds, we focus on what makes each of us prepared to fulfill the vision we are laying out for the office, not attacks on the preparedness of each other. We both have been in law enforcement for years, and there is plenty of good we can each say about our own varied experiences.
I hope you will join me in following these simple suggestions in our remaining discussions. I further hope our entire campaigns can be carried out in this spirit in these last days. I believe these suggestions will ultimately advance the issues we both care about, and most importantly help serve the interests of this great state. I look forward to hearing from you.
J.B. Van Hollen
Option #2 refers to Bucher interrupting Van Hollen yesterday, finally causing Van Hollen to get rattled. It’s a fair request.
The list of course is to answer Bucher’s request for five more debates. I understand tickets are on sale now to each of the events.
The other two requests are laughable. What they amount to are a plea to avoid “negative campaigning”. They’re asking Bucher’s campaign to not attack Van Hollen’s record (or lack thereof).
What an incredible leap in logic. If Van Hollen is supposedly qualified for the office by virtue of his previous experience, then surely that experience is open to scrutiny. Furthermore, if he can’t handle a rough cross-examination from Paul Bucher on his record, what is he going to do when the Democrats get a hold of him? Break down and cry? Drop a series of four-letter words? Throw a tantrum?
The Bucher campaign doesn’t need me to speak for them. I don’t work for them and I don’t even know where their headquarters is. Half of their press releases get eaten by my spam filters.
JB Van Hollen is a grown man. If he can’t take the public scrutiny of his time as a federal prosecutor, then he should get the hell out of politics. If I were the Bucher campaign, I would send a polite letter back to the Van Hollen campaign asking, “What, are you stupid?” But I would use a different word choice.
Van Hollen’s first campaign commercial after the primary would be about how he was a DA, how President Bush selected him to be U.S. attorney and how he wiped out crime on a Sawyer County Indian reservation. Bucher’s would be the cop’s dash cam footage of Peg’s DUI.
I think we’ll let the smoke clear a little bit…
Update! Paul Bucher’s response.