This week in politics: Brat Fest and Weinergate
The World’s Largest Brat Fest held last weekend in Madison was the subject of much advance debate and boycott talk over the political contributions of major sponsor Johnsonville Sausage’s Ralph Stayer. Just to poke another Slim Jim in everyone’s eye, Stayer sent $15,000 to the campaign of GOP Sen. Randy Hopper, a fellow who is facing a recall election with an interesting background story.
Well the results are in and it appears that alternative events and calls to just plain stay away probably had some impact. I’m not correcting for any impact of weather, gas prices, or the general economy. But after years of growing totals, the World’s Largest Brat Fest saw sales plunge by around 24 percent, or nearly 50,000 brats less this year. Being mindful of the opportunity for post hoc errors, I’m still going to stick my neck out and say that absent the brouhaha over Walker, Johnsonville and the GOP, the Brat Fest would have had a better performance in true blue Madison this year. And I say that with some degree of “certitude.”
Speaking of tubular meat, Weinergate broke out over the weekend as firebrand liberal Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York was accused of sending a picture over Twitter of an occupied set of men’s briefs that was supposedly directed at a young lady across the country. This is a weird story because ordinarily, a fellow wouldn’t hit on someone he’d never met in the presence of thousands of people. Fresh off the special election in New York’s 26th over the previous GOP congressman’s shirtless photos to a Craig’s List acquaintance and the unending saga of Brett Favre, it seems like there are a lot of people who just shouldn’t carry cameras around with them all the time.
The tweet was deleted, but not before it was captured by political enemies of Weiner – of which there are many – and shared with the world. Weiner said he was hacked; something that conjures up images of Lorena Bobbit, (except it’s a computer thing.) But the real corker is that Congressman Weiner refuses to say that the picture isn’t him (something you might think he would probably know. I mean, how many pictures of you in your underwear are out there floating around and if they are, you know about them, right?)
In general, I’m a fan of Anthony Weiner. He’s always been kind of a hot dog. And as a long-time PR guy, I also admire his willingness to step in front of the cameras to answer the questions. But if you were not going to answer the big one, then I would suggest simply putting out a statement and leaving it at that. The picture in question is a lot less spicey than what Favre supposedly sent along to a woman with whom he had also tried to set up a rendezvous. But the net for Weiner is that this is starting to come off like “I didn’t inhale,” or “I did not have sexual relations with that woman…”
Personally, I don’t much care about any of these things, but poorly handled is poorly handled (depending on how you define “is.”) And when your name is Weiner to begin with, you’ve just got to be more careful – especially if you also happen to be a congressman. As Jon Stewart of the Daily Show pointed out, “there’s really no way to cover this Weiner story in a non-adolescent fashion.”
Weiner will be speaking in Milwaukee tomorrow night at the state Democratic convention. It would be great if they could have the racing sausages from Miller Park as special guests or something. But if the past week has shown us nothing else, it is that linking sausages with politicians is not always a good business decision.
Friday, June 03, 2011
State party officials said they told Weiner he was still welcome to attend and address delegates tonight, and left the decision to speak up to him.
“He decided to spend the weekend with his wife,” said state chair Mike Tate.
UPDATE: Monday, June 6 —
Weiner admits to sending Twitter pic; won’t resign