Today in political types who don't know how to use the phone, a Wisconsin Congressman is drawing criticism for saying he'd like to "smack around" a constituent — all while her voicemail was recording.
According to the Baraboo News Republic, Democratic Rep. Fred Clark (pictured, right) called Sue Stapelman to ask her to vote for him in a recall election against Sen. Luther Olsen. Her machine picked up — but then she did. Clark told her he was running, and she said, "Yeah, and isn't that a crime," before hanging up on him. Clark then turned to an employee and said, "OK. I feel like calling her back and smackin' her around." But Stapelman's answering machine was still taping, meaning his comment was recorded for posterity.
Clark has issued a mea culpa, saying "I understand the statement was completely inappropriate under any circumstance and I want to apologize." But Stapelman is understandably pissed: she says, "I was just pretty much flabbergasted when I heard what he said. It kind of speaks to his respect for his constituents. He obviously doesn't have very much respect for the voters." And the Republican Party of Wisconsin issued a statement reading, in part,
This disturbing and inappropriate comment gives us an unfortunate glimpse of what Representative Clark is like when he thinks no one is listening. Domestic violence is a devastating problem in our state, and abuse is on the rise. To be able to so freely threaten violence against a woman, even in jest, shows a tremendous lack of character.
On the one hand, Clark's threat was pretty clearly metaphorical — you can't actually smack someone over the phone. But that doesn't make it okay, or smart. And Wisconsin voters are right to be wary of someone who seems like he needs to attend remedial phone classes with Ginni Thomas.