L'Affaire Lawton is not over | Wis.Community

L'Affaire Lawton is not over

What radio talker Jerry Bader said on the air about Barbara Lawton is indefensible.

Lawton is correct. A two-week suspension is not adequate punishment for Bader's reckless disregard of the truth or the wild claims he described as factual. He should lose his job.

Maybe Lawton thinks that will be the end of the story, that the news media will move on and leave her in peace. If that's what happens, she should thank Bader for overstepping so far that it frightens off others who would explore her reasons for abandoning the governor's race. But that's not likely.

Before we shed too many tears for Lawton and deplore how her privacy is being invaded, let's consider how her bizarre handling of the announcement precipitated the media inquiries.

When someone who was, by all accounts, running full-tilt for governor on Saturday pulls out of the race on Monday -- and does it in an email of fewer than 100 words, citing only "very personal reasons" -- it is not surprising that it would prompt some speculation and questions.

She says no one in her family is ill. Her marriage is intact. And, basically, that it's nobody's business why she decided what she decided.

Technically, it is not anyone's business, one could argue. But it is incredibly naive to think that everyone's just going to accept her statement at face value and move on.

Why did she decide to quit?

She couldn't stand the idea of asking people for money every day? Maybe. She's said making those phone calls makes her feel dirty.

Someone said something mean to her, and she just couldn't face it? Perhaps.

She was already worn out from traveling the state and performing every day, and couldn't face the prospect of doing it for another whole year?

She's moving to Indiana?

It's a stretch, but any of those could be "very personal" reasons, by her definition. Most people wouldn't think so.

Whatever it is, what would have been wrong with doing what 99.9% of people in public life would do and holding a news conference to make the announcement, explain the reasons, however serious or silly they might seem, and be done with it?

It's the peculiar way she did it, and the air of mystery about the abrupt about-face, that has everyone poking around and asking questions.

Maybe, just maybe, this will be one of those questions that never gets answered. She thinks/hopes the media has moved on. That's highly doubtful. If she's going to continue to be lieutenant governor until January of 2011, and continue to make public appearances, she is going to continue to be asked about it.

And you can bet the media will continue to find other sources to explain Lawton's decision. Maybe the Bader mess has put a lid on things. But no real reporter would be thrown off the scent by that circus.

It's highly unlikely that we have heard the end of the Lawton story. I'm just one of many who are curious about the real story, even if it turns out to be mundane.

UPDATE: Now we know. Lawton's car was vandalized a few months ago. This explains everything. Lawton could not be reached:

A staff employee at Lawton's state Capitol office on Thursday said that Lawton was en route to New York to attend an initiation-only event in her official capacity."

Initiation only? Does it involve paddles?


October 29, 2009 - 12:09pm