Let’s talk turkey. Or at least about one. The recall against Scott Walker has been going steadily well the last two weeks. The minimum number of signatures needed to trigger a recall election is 540,208, but to play it safe we are aiming closer to the 600,000-700,000 range, as the GOP establishment will undoubtedly challenge the reams and reams of petitions. But this is only half the story, for we are not trying to recall Walker alone, but also his running mate, Rebecca Kleefisch, the Lieutenant Governor. The Attorney General of Wisconsin, J.B. Van Hollen, decided that there had to be two separate petitions for the offices — even though both were elected together on the same ballot. So that in reality puts the total amount of signatures well past the million mark — let’s say 1,400,000 — and still we have only 60 days to collect them. That’s about 23,000 signatures per day, a pretty daunting hurdle to by any measure. While collecting signatures and explaining that there’s a separate one for Kleefisch, I have had dozens of folks ask me quite innocently, “Who even is she?” or “What does she even do?” To which my only grasped straw of a response has been, “Wear way too much makeup.” A catty quip, and probably beneath me, but so be it. But it has made me ask myself, Who is this show-and-tell shill for Sephora — what’s her story? what are her qualifications? and, what for the love of all things holy is up with her hair? Here is what I have disinterred.
A short but thorough bio:
Most sources on the web say she was born in Michigan in 1975 and raised in northwestern Ohio. Only Wikipedia, that bastion of unimpugnable objectivity, claims she was born in Milwaukee. Interestingly, her own website’s bio doesn’t mention where she was born, which makes me surmise it was anywhere but Wisconsin. Regardless, she went to college at UW-Madison, studying marketing first, then journalism. She interned at a news station in Rockford, IL, after which she landed a job as morning anchor at WISN-TV, an ABC affiliate, in Milwaukee. It was there she met a young buck reporter by the name of Joel, to whom she was married at the age of 25. From her website, http://www.rebeccaforreal.com/:
“Their first date was to Lambeau Field where the pair was too frugal to part with the money for tickets, so they got to know each other over the time-honored tradition of watching the Packers rout the Vikings from a tavern.”
Really? They drove up to Green Bay in order to watch the game at a bar? Because they were too cheap? Their penny-pinching penury sounds more a like self-righteous fetish than fiscal responsibility. But people eat this vain false modesty up: five years later, in 2004, Joel would be elected as an Assemblyman in the State Legislature — where he sits today, notably as one of the 16 seats of the powerful Joint Finance Committee, the very one that gave the glad hand, nod, wink, and thumbs up imprimatur to Walker’s damaging budget back in February of this year. Below is as good a video of Joel you’re likely to see; draw your own conclusions:
Also from her bio page:
“The Kleefisches sold their house and moved into one with a more affordable mortgage. They began clipping coupons and cutting back.”
You want to see their downsizing and need to clip coupons and cut back? Take a look at her kitchen in this video (which I’ll talk about more in a moment):
Marble counter tops, island stove top range, pendulous cast iron hooks, a fancy-ass fridge, all in a house near a lake along a cul-de-sac in expensive Oconomowoc. This is what puts her in touch with working families? Do you win a state-of-the-art microwave for being so clueless, too? Or just a new boat to replace the one you already have? And where oh where can you buy chips, dip, blueberries, and burger buns for only $4.20? A store back in the 1920s, or one where they treat their workers and farmers like it was still the 1920s? Oh yeah — and I totally would rather buy ground beef from a factory food farm for $3.75 (or a whopping $45 a year for property taxes) than the same amount or more go toward teachers and kids, instead of the state gouging $900 million in public education since school districts, thanks to the Walker/Kleefisch administration, can no longer raise property taxes. Now that’s what I call savings! Talk about cutting back!
Interestingly, Rebecca (and I’m calling her by her first name, not because I’m sexist in the “Hillary” sense, but in order to distinguish her from Joel) covered the Milwaukee County pension scandal, which debacle would create the conditions for one Scott Walker to run in a recall election to oust then County Executive of Milwaukee, F. Thomas Ament. (He did so successfully, on which platform he would wolf-in-fleece-like hyperbolize, make a martyred idolatry out of and base his gubernatorial campaign in 2010. Again successfully.)
In 2003 she and Joel had their first of two daughters, after which she became a stay-at-home mom. Restless, she went back to her marketing roots and drummed up a little media/marketing gig humbly called Rebecca Kleefisch Enterprises, Inc. where she worked on rebranding, public relations, and media strategy. This was portentous, as we have Rebecca to thank for the Walker mantra, “open for business.” And as Lieutenant Governor — a position which otherwise is a formulaic sinecure — she appointed herself “Jobs Ambassador,” luring such lucrative and respectul businesses such as FatWallet.com to open up shop just over the border in Wisconsin.
Back to her bio: “In 2009, with kids out of diapers, Kleefisch was frustrated watching her beloved Wisconsin being wrecked by liberal tax-and-spenders.” (“Beloved”? She’s no more an authentic Badger than Walker is. I’m not either, but I don’t waltz around in a false piety of cultish jingoism either. And “tax-and-spender,” another clever neologism by the GOP to use whenever substantive debate runs afoul: just tar and feather your opponent. This is like calling the Pope, who preaches peace, a “cut-and-runner.”) “Combining her TV background and political junkie tendencies, Rebecca started a video blog, embedded once a week on “Sykes Writes”, a widely read conservative Wisconsin blog.” Yes, the above video is from this series. If you want to see more (or just more of her house/basement/garage/backyard),click on any of her videos and look for the others in the margins. Here’s one more that’s worth an appalling giggle:
Let’s get rid of emissions testing?!? Look, I’m from New Jersey, where only after California are there the highest emissions standards in the country. Believe me: I know emissions lines, and Rebecca doesn’t have a clue what she’s talking about. (Speaking of sweet old Jersey, if you really want to feel the pinch of high property taxes — the highest anywhere — move there. And yet still the state is Democratic. Cause taxes pay for services, which is a necessity with so many people from so many backgrounds are so tightly squeezed in such a tiny state.) But what’s the other message here (apart from once again let’s all appeal to our most base human nature in the name of fleeting, selfish gain — which actually is exactly what the Walker/Kleefisch administration has been all about since the get-go): we staunch conservatives who can’t keep our mouths shut for five minutes without mentioning “families,” what kind of air quality environment are we leaving for our precious children? More skyrocketing rates of asthma?
What’s cloyingly annoying about these videos is the copy-and-paste mannerisms of an amateur reporter essentially pretending still to be behind a news camera giving the scoop to the crew back in the studio. She’s got the shtick down pat, I’ll give her that, but it’s so smarmy and schmaltzy, gratingly ingratiating, like some scrappy pup trying way too damn hard to have its head patted. (I do realize I myself am writing a blog and ought not be casting stones… The irony is hardly lost on me.)
Her conservative bona fides are beyond doubt:
Notice that guy who introduced her? That’s the notorious Mark Block, who paid $15,000 to the Wisconsin Elections Board for campaign financing violations in a state supreme court race in 1997 and was subsequently banned from working on any campaigns til 2004. Now there’s good people to be surrounding yourself with! (Currently, Block is Herman Cain’s Chief of Staff, and once again he may well have violated campaign finance laws for the would-be Republican nominee. (For more on this, see the excellent breakdown here by the good people at the Center for Media and Democracy.)
Also, she made the grade of who’s who in the Republican Security Council’s “45 Most Admired Women Under 45″ list, among which rostrum of vaunted ladies are Liz Cheney, the self-loathing lesbian daughter of Dick, Elizabeth Hasselbeck of The View, Dana Perino, White House spokesperson for George W, and bellicose columnist Michelle Malkin just to name a few (Jessica Simpson received honorable mention). I’m sure there’s a typo, that the list is really hairstyles allowed only if you were born in ’45. I don’t mean to harp on this, but seriously, that helmeted bouffant!?! She’s an attractive woman — so why that weirdo hairdo? She looks like a do-wop girl from the 1960s or a stand-in for a local production of Hairspray.
Two more illuminating mentionables about Rebecca, and then I’m done: health care and gay rights.
During the gubernatorial race last year Rebecca was treated for colon cancer. She even campaigned on it:
How does a then stay-at-home mom with her own out-of-home PR business afford healthcare? Her husband, Joel, is dreaded of all leviathans: a public employee! And their family plan is footed mostly by you and me, taxpayers of Wisconsin; we pay about $21,000 for the Kleefisch family! Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for this and glad she was able to receive care for her terrible disease. Would that she felt that everyone also should be entitled to such care! Thanks to Joel’s plan, the Kleefisches pay $85 a month. If Joel hadn’t been a public employee, I would like to know how they could have afforded Rebecca’s costs.
The woman dodged a bullet — she could be dead — and how has her second chance graciously enlightened her? The Walker Administration proposes to cut 67,000 people off of BadgerCare — that’s how.
And God knows she doesn’t believe in the Domestic Partner Registry either, for that was the subject of her most egregious gaffe last year, when she likened the civil rights issue of recognizing marriage for gays and lesbians, and with it the legal rights and responsibilities entitled to heterosexual couples, to marrying dogs, clocks, and tables:
“At what point are we going to OK marrying inanimate objects? Can I marry this table or this, you know, clock? Can we marry dogs? This is ridiculous. Biblically, again I’m going to go right back to my fundamental Christian beliefs, marriage is between one man and one woman.”
Tell me again what the Bible and the state constitution have in common? Well, they’re not unrelated, apparently, as Rebecca believes that one of the qualifications for governor is being a Christian man. No shit; watch here.
She was answering a question about the Domestic Partner Registry in the state (without which, by the way, I personally would have no health coverage). She began by discrediting it for purely financial reasons; the state’s broke, we simply can’t afford handing out these “privileges” right now. Now that’s a compassionate Christian talking from her heart! Using that logic, why allow heterosexuals, too? If we’re broke, we’re broke. What she’s saying is, the state doesn’t have enough money to allow public employees to include their gay (or straight) partners on their healthcare plans, the same couples we’ve enshrined discrimination towards in our very constitution by preventing them to marry or even enter into a civil union, but we can always afford new heterosexual couples who haven’t even been alive as long as some gay couples have been in a committed relationship to get whatever they want, since they’re straight.
Saying nothing of the unprofessional callousness of this statement, it’s not without a personal negligence, too: Rebecca’s own uncle is gay. Nice! Now that’s the kind of family values this state needs! (For more on this story, here’s a video and a column.) But it does go straight home to what’s been going on since day one of this administration and it’s with-us-or-against-us posturing: they have a radical agenda they’re hellbent on executing, and screw everyone else (which is everyone who isn’t rich). They don’t represent real families, and they sure as hell couldn’t care less about Democrats and progressives. Walker and Kleefisch won with 3% more than Tom Barrett, yet it’s been a payback takeover ever since. And that’s why we’re busting our butts and freezing them off knocking on doors and standing on street corners collecting enough signatures to make them face the state again and take some accountability for their actions this year. I’d say “good luck — cause y’all are gonna need it!” but Walker has more than enough money to mitigate his popularity. As always, we’ve got the people. It’s who we are.
Only two governors in the history of the United States have ever been recalled. We hope Walker will be the third. However, no Lieutenant Governor has ever been recalled. Let’s make Becky #1!