Reviewing Kathleen Falk’s Initial Campaign Steps in a Recall Race

I wrote before, at FREE WHITEWATER, about Democratic recall candidate Kathleen Falk’s campaign announcement. (See, Reviewing Kathleen Falk’s Recall Campaign Announcement.) The post was part of an ongoing series on candidates and advertisements during the 2012 Wisconsin elections. I’ll survey the range of candidates for state and federal office, and I started with Falk.)

These were impressions only of the politics, and not the merits, of Falk’s campaign.

Readers may recall that I thought her first video was poorly done, and displayed her to her disadvantage. Considering her long time in politics, her appearance, delivery, and website were surprisingly mediocre.

Since that time, her campaign has a kept the same video on her campaign website, but the presentation frame for that video shows a more attractive candidate (with her hair down) than the one who speaks in the video (with her hair pulled back.) I’ve embedded that video, again, and a second one from a subsequent, outdoor campaign announcement. Remarks on each follow thereafter.

The videos. Falk should always appear with her hair down, as she does in the photo below, and as she does in the presentation frame of her campaign announcement video. Her campaign tacitly acknowledges as much by using a presentation shot that shows her with her hair down, before she begins speaking (with her hair pulled back). It’s as though they want to offset an unflattering, two-minute video with an attractive still shot.

It would have been better to re-shoot the original than merely to augment the original with a still image that presents an awkward contrast to Falk’s appearance while speaking.

She’s naturally lovely, with an elegance in her features – it’s foolish not to show a candidate to his or her best advantage.

Falk should always adopt the style from the photograph immediately above.

In the second video, where she addresses a crowd outside, she’s at a better advantage. It would have been stronger still if she stood away from a lectern, with only a microphone between herself and the crowd. A long, cloth coat (navy) would have been her best choice.

Why do I write about these apparently small matters? Because they’re not small – there’s a role in a campaign like this for an attractive, serious woman who presents herself as an elegant, stylish alternative to Gov. Walker. To be delicate in my answer, if there is to be such a Democratic woman in this race, it’s Falk alone.

As for the GOP governor, whatever his strengths, and however many his supporters, Gov. Walker is neither handsome nor graceful.

Many of the Left’s most successful candidates have been elegant, graceful, affluent champions of working Americans. It matters little that there’s a seeming contradiction between candidate and constituency – it matters more that it’s effective. If the Right will describe her as a limousine liberal in any event (and they will), she might as well get some mileage out of it.

The message. If no one’s thinking about Falk’s appearance, it’s because of the contention that she promised to veto a budget that did not repeal collective bargaining restrictions in exchange for union support.

Conservatives are gleeful about what they consider a candid but damaging admission; even some liberals think the charge was damaging.

Falk and a state teachers’ union (WEAC) were quick to deny a direct promise. Falk contends that she’d veto a budget without restoration of collective bargaining rights in any event. (It’s a contention she offers in the second of the videos I have embedded, above.)

I don’t think the harm is a charge (servility to unions) that any Democrat except Herb Kohl would face; it’s that Falk began her campaign this way. On the defensive is no place to be. It’s a worse place to begin.

If it should be true that Kathleen Falk and Kathleen Vinehout are the only two Democratic candidates in the race, then Falk’s union endorsements are all to her advantage (and wasted time on a kerfuffle about them won’t matter).

But if, as just about every progressive that one meets believes, there will be other Democrats candidates, then lost time may matter a great deal. Falk’s problem is not Vinehout, but candidates not yet declared.

She could have used a smoother start to solidify an effort against those yet to enter.

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