Skip to main content

I saw an online ad the other day for Mark Neumann, a former Republican congressman who is now running for governor of Wisconsin.  Curious, or bored — or both — I clicked through to his web site to see what he was all about.

The answer?  Not much. Money:  He’s very concerned about money, and his discussion of most issues relate them, somehow, to money.

The home page of the site has a few link buttons, a particularly vacuous mission statement for his campaign and the text of his campaign blog.  In fact, the blog entries make up probably 80% of the text on the page.  There were two blog entries immediately visible when I visited the site yesterday.

The first appears to be by a campaign staffer recounting a visit to some businesses, and it is revealing in a couple of ways.

First, Neumann is said to be visiting businesses, not people and not citizens.  I’m certain there were people at those businesses, and I’ll bet they told the candidate at least a little about what they want him to know they’re concerned about in their lives, but you’d never know it from this report.  Instead, we’re told that the candidate was given an exotic gift, that one of the businesses ships restored horse-drawn buggies around the world and that one of the onwers gave “an emotional talk about the state of business in Wisconsin.”

The second revelation:  Neumann’s campaign appears to be focused on a world where most people cannot afford to tread.  Imports from Turkey and niche exports of luxury items are not the stuff of life for real people.  And most of us have a lot more on our minds — especially that we get “emotional” about — than just “business.”  Our work may be how we live, but it's certainly not why we live.

That Neumann lives in a different world should not surprise us:  He’s a multi-millionaire who has already put $1 million of his own money into the campaign and is reportedly willing and able to dump as much as $3 million into it.  People with that much “play” money don’t live like the rest of us, don’t think like the rest of us, and don’t have the same problems, issues and concerns as the rest of us.

A three-sentence paragraph, tacked on the end, notes that “hunting is a big deal in Wisconsin,” conflates the issues of hunting and concealed carry of weapons, and tells us that Neumann is an avid trophy hunter.  Once again, we’re presented with a candidate who is out of sync with the people of Wisconsin: people who already know hunting is a “big deal,” because it’s a defining characteristic of the culture for most of the state; people who know that hunting has absolutely nothing to do with concealed carry; and people who hunt because they love the experience and the food, not because they’re collecting trophies.

The second blog entry is written by the candidate’s wife, Sue.  It, too, is revealing in both what is says and doesn’t say.  As with the first post, the campaign is described as visiting businesses and business owners, not people and not citizens (and, I’ll add, not workers).  Sue tells us that she buys something at every business they visit, as a way of “thanking the businesses,” and that the candidate bought her jewelry with pearls.  Sue does drop the names of some high school classmates with whom they reconnected, but never mentions a single issue of concern of any person with whom she spoke.

Sue’s post also gives us a world that’s foreign to most of us — a world where discretionary spending seems limitless, a world of high-ticket luxuries and a world where businesses are more important than people.

As with the campaign staffer’s post, the language is quite revealing:  they “thank” businesses instead of thanking people, they “visit” businesses instead of conversing with people.  When people do appear in their stories, they are defined by what business they own.  Indeed, Sue says they’re meeting with “business owners,” not with people, citizens or even voters.

Going to the “issues” tab of the Neumann site, we find “jobs” listed first, and in the discussion under that page we find more revelations.  The first revelation is that Neumann is a liar who thinks you are stupid:  He says his budget policies are “very similar” to those he proposed as a member of Congress in the ’90s, and that people “scoffed” at him then says:

Four years later, however, the federal budget was balanced, debt was being repaid, and the largest tax reduction in American history had been passed. Millions of jobs were created


Neumann wants you to believe the budget policies he proposed created the strong economic and budget results of the ’90s:  when Bill Clinton was president, when Neumann was a small-state, no-name member freshman member of the 435-seat House of Representatives, when the “bubble” economies (dot com, stock market and real estate) were booming (for which we’re paying dearly now).

Neumann also has his history wrong.  The first balanced budget submitted in 30 years happeend in 1998 when President Clinton submitted his 1999 budget— which means that “four years later,” as Neumann puts it, the budget was still not balanced.

When Neumann brags that “millions of jobs were created,” not only is he taking credit for something in which he played no recognizable role, but he’s failing to mention that “millions of jobs” were also created under every president since Roosevelt (Hoover lost jobs, as did “Dubya” Bush, making the “bookends”).  In short, Neumann is failing to be honest.

On his “taxes” page, Neumann’s site makes this fraudulent claim:

This historical chart shows that the federal budget was in balance only for a short time over the last 40 years – and it is no coincidence that this occurred while Mark Neumann served in the U.S. Congress.

But, course, it was precisely a “coincidence” that Neumann was in Congress when the Clinton administration balanced the budget.  Neumann’s claim to the contrary is nothing less than a lie.

The centerpiece of his “job” blog is cutting taxes by 24%, with a plan to cut them even more later.  Defying history, economics and common sense, he’s claiming that cutting taxes will create jobs (he doesn’t address what such massive tax cuts would do to the state budget and the essential services the state provides).  Reagan’s tax cuts for the rich didn’t trickle down into job creation, George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the rich not only failed to trickle down into jobs, they helped squander the federal surplus and balanced budget he inherited from Clinton, drive up record federal, deficits and debt and drive the nation in a deep and prolonged recession with massive unemployment.  And this is what Neumann thinks the people of Wisconsin want?

In the same paragraph, he says he’ll make Wisconsin’s children the best educated in the world.  That’s quite a claim, and he doesn’t say how he’ll do it.  It’d be pretty tough even if the school budgets were flush with cash, but given their current shortfalls — which would be compounded by Neumann’s massive tax cuts — it rings not as hyperbole, but as a pandering lie.  I also have to wonder about his commitment to public education, given that, by his own account, he quit teaching in public schools because he wanted more money, and that he is co-chairman of a nonprofit company that runs three private schools in Milwaukee.

What bothers me as much is why he wants our kids to be the best educated:  so they’ll make a great workforce.  On another page, he talks about providing businesses with educated workers, so it sounds like his concern is more for the businesses than for the children/future workers.  Setting aside the creepy idea of treating our children as cogs in the industrial machine, and taking a broader view, it starts to look like, for Neumann, just about everything boils down to money.

Health care:  Neumann can see only money.  He thinks that the main problem with health insurance system now (which he says is “broken”) is that it costs too much.  He lists waste, fraud, abuse and “defensive medicine” as the main drivers of health care costs, which is a long, long way from the truth.  He desperately needs to update his website.  He slams the Democratic efforts at health care reform — which he errantly, deceitfully, calls “ObamaCare” — for things that either never were part of the effort or have been discarded.

Neumann’s idea for fixing the broken health system?  Wishing for a pony: He says “the solutions will be private sector ideas.”  Funny how the private sector hasn’t produced those ideas yet, considering the health care reform effort has been going on in this country for nearly 100 years.  Wishing for that pony won’t make it magically appear.

So he lists jobs, taxes, education, health care as his main issues, and for every one of them the heart of the matter — as he sees it — is money. This fits nicely with the constituents -- the businesses he visits and seems to want to represent.  Maybe he’s confused by the Supreme Court’s insane ruling that corporations are “persons” with constitutional rights.

Strangely, he also lists “Second Amendment” and “Life” among his issues, but he doesn’t say why they are issues, how they affect people in Wisconsin or what he’d do about them.  Under “Life” he announces he's “pro-life,” says he believes life begins at conception and ends “at one’s natural death,” and asks that everyone talk nice about it. That’s it?  That’s it.  The Second Amendment page is equally unenlightening. He doesn’t say much of what he do about either one.  My guess is that they’re both listed on his site as “dog whistles” to the right-wing single-issue extremists.  But hey, give him credit for not saying they're about money (although I’d make the case that the Second Amendment issues mostly are about money these days).

Neumann also has issues that don’t show up on his web site.  For instance, he’s such a homophobe that he endorses workplace discrimination.  In 1997, Neumann said that he would not hire a person who applied for a position in his legislative office after stating a gay or lesbian orientation.  “If somebody walks in to me and says, ‘I’m a gay person; I want a job in your office.’ I would say, ‘that’s inappropriate’ and they wouldn’t be hired because that would mean they are promoting their agenda. The gay and lesbian lifestyle (is) unacceptable, lest there be any question about that.”

Lest there be any question about it, that marks Neumann as both an ignoramous and a bigot.  It would also, if he followed through on it, make him a criminal, because Wisconsin outlawed workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation back in 1982.  You’d think a guy who represented the state in the House, tried to represent us in the Senate and now wants to be our governor would know that.  You'd think he'd have more respect for the law, even if he can't muster respect for gay people.

It’s not just gays that Neumann appears to dislike, it seems he’s not much for Catholics either.  He’s a long-time member of a strange little sect of Lutherans that insists the Pope is the anti-Christ.  From the church’s web site:

We recognize the Pope as the Anti-Christ by his false teachings and by his matching the traits of the Anti-Christ as revealed in Scripture, not by the alleged symbolism of something he wears or carries.

Darn.  Here I thought Obama was the anti-Christ!  Speaking of Obama, remember the grief he took for what his church was preaching?  Think the wingnuts will give Neumann the same treatment? (Don’t hold your breath.)

There is, if you look at it from the right angle, a bit of ironic humor in the Neumann campaign.  He’s trying to sell himself as a regular guy, a man of the people, running against career politicians, when he’s a multi-millionaire former member of Congress now in the midst of his sixth campaign for public office.

I’d hate to think what would happen if someone this shallow, this vacuous, this bigoted, this dishonest and this obsessed with money were elected governor.  Life is about so much more than moeny.  So is leadership.  Is this the best Wisconsin’s Republicans can offer?  In the coming days, I’ll take a look at Neumann’s primary opponent, Scott Walker.  Stay tuned.

Originally posted to americandad on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 06:01 PM PST.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  I'll cross post this (0+ / 0-)

    over at

  •  I'd focus more on Walker than Neumann (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Neumann is a joke. He hasn't held elected office in over a decade and his sell-date in politics ended when he lost to Feingold in 1998 (the race was close only because of Russ's self-imposed campaign finance limits). If he wins the GOP primary, Tom Barrett can pretty much start making plans to move into the Governor's office.

    Another reason to dislike Neumann; his run for the Senate in 1998 allowed his House seat to open up and be filled by the deeply annoying Paul Ryan. Thanks, Mark.

  •  that's a lot of writing to come out of boredom (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and curiosity.

    Not to diss your diligence and hard work, but all you really need to say is that Neumann is fucking nuts. He's been running for all manner of things, with little success, for about 2 decades.

    To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

    by UntimelyRippd on Sat Mar 13, 2010 at 01:46:27 PM PST

  •  Looking forward to the Walker writeup. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Scott Walker totally destroyed Milwaukee County and now he wants to take his brand of scorched earth republicanism state wide.


    Much of life is knowing what to Google

    by JanF on Sat Mar 13, 2010 at 02:02:33 PM PST

  •  he was a jerk (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    when he was a congressman. Sure hope the good citizens of WI remember that.

    Rove needs to be water boarded.

    by regis on Sat Mar 13, 2010 at 03:57:23 PM PST

  •  He was a jerk... (0+ / 0-)

    ...when he owned Neumann construction (Now Brookstone Homes). He was a client of the company I worked for at the time...all I can say is what an ass! I was actually happy when we lost his account.

    Rest in Peace Mom - 1926 - 2010 (-8.25, -7.85)

    by Mark E Andersen on Sat Mar 13, 2010 at 05:13:43 PM PST

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site