How to Prolong a Scandal, Wisconsin Edition

by James Downie | March 31, 2011

[Guest post by James Downie]

Last week, freshman GOP representative Sean Duffy provided some easy blog fodder when he was videotaped complaining about his "struggle" with a $174,000 salary:

Constituent: I’m a builder. I haven’t been building too many things in the last couple years with the economy down. My wife is a teacher. I’m fortunate enough to take a bus driving job. Love it. Just love it. But it’s not very much money of course. It’s working for us.
I’m just wondering, what are Congressman’s, Senator’s wages? My wife is going to have to take a cut if this bill goes through and I’m just wondering what your wage is and if you guys would be willing to take a cut?
Duffy: So the question is, what is my wage? And I’ll answer your question and I’ll get to it in one second. I was the Ashland County DA and uh I decided to run for Congress. And as this race heated up in the first part of June, I resigned as the Ashland County DA because I didn’t want to campaign on your tax dollars and so I didn’t and I resigned.
I have 6 children and I’ve gone for roughly 7 months with 6 kids and no paycheck. It was worth it for me to do that because I believe in what I was doing. I get the Congressional salary is 174 thousand dollars. I didn’t vote on that . I got there on January 5th. I came into it without a play in it.
Constituent: But a hundred and seventy-four thousand, that’s three times — that’s three of my family’s — three times what I make.
Duffy: Well our budget…I moved to cut by 5 percent. I did. You know what, I have no problem..let’s have a movement afoot. I walked into this job 6 weeks ago..um that I worked incredibly hard for. And I can guarantee you or most of you, I guarantee that I have more debt than all of you.

Insensitive comments like this are a dime a dozen these days, what with such a high percentage of political events being filmed by somebody. Congressional sources assure me that Steve King probably says three things more insensitive than the above before sitting down to breakfast. All Republicans have to do is let the gaffe blow over, and people will forget he ever said those rem...oh:

First the Republican Party in Polk County, Wisconsin, pulled the tape of Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) fretting about making ends meet on his $174,000 a year salary from its own website. Now they want it gone from the whole Internet.
For a couple hours, the local county GOP was successful. But we've put an excerpt of the video back up.
A day after TPM posted the video we obtained of Duffy talking about his salary at a Polk County town hall meeting earlier this year, the Polk County GOP contacted the video provider we used to host the video, Blip.tv, and demanded the video be taken down.

First, haven't we as a society learned "once it's on the internet, it's there forever?" I thought that was one of the chief lessons of the past decade. Second, Democrats should be thanking the Polk County GOP for adding an uncommon twist on an old "gotcha." Even if the Polk County GOP isn't exactly in touch with how the media works these days, Duffy was a contestant on the "Real World" and a color commentator on ESPN - surely at some point somebody mentioned in media training that obstructing a video just lengthens the scandal?

That being said, the state Democratic party didn't need any help to come up with an excellent April Fools' poster.

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/jonathan-chait/86092/how-prolong-scandal-wisconsin-edition