It is hard to decide who is nuttier – Dr. Milton Wolf, the radiologist-turned-tea-party-Senate-candidate in Kansas, or the right-wingers who still back him. Sunday, this story broke in Kansas:
U.S. Senate candidate Milton Wolf posted a collection of gruesome X-ray images of gunshot fatalities and medical injuries to his Facebook page and participated in online commentary layered with macabre jokes and descriptions of carnage. Wolf, a Johnson County radiologist anchoring a campaign for the Republican nomination with calls for federal health care reform, said in an interview the medical images were legally uploaded to public social media sites and other online venues for educational purposes. They also served, he said, to demonstrate evil lurking in the world.
This is not the Onion, folks. How he is practicing medicine, let alone running for Senate? “An array of professionals involved in medical ethics who viewed the images or were provided a description of the materials made public by Wolf condemned his airing of the information outside confines of a doctor-to-doctor consultation or for the purpose of formal medical research or textbook instruction.” It doesn’t take a medical ethicist to know this behavior is abhorrent.
Even worse (How can it be, right?), in a written statement Wolf brushed this off, told a sob story about his father (“When I was 15 years old, I stood at my father’s bedside, himself a rural doctor, and watched him take his last breath”), then blamed his opponent (“Senator Pat Roberts wants to attack me as a doctor rather than giving Kansans a reason to vote for him“ Huh?!). This follows a spate of controversial, even bizarre rhetoric from Wolf.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee’s communications director, Brad Dayspring, released a statement via e-mail: “Once again, it is clear that there are a few select groups and organizations that refuse to properly research candidates or do the necessary work prior to endorsing them, which maximizes risk and hurts the conservative cause. Time and again, it has been proven that the failure to research and vet candidates results in handing winnable seats to Democrats. “
You’d think Wolf would be asked to get out of the race. But one of his biggest backers, the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF), didn’t bat an eye. The group tweeted: “The NRSC can’t compete on the issues so they have to attack the character of conservatives.” Pretty weak spin, even for this gang.
In a subsequent interview Wolf defended his behavior, saying, “It’s an educational thing for people. I take my charge of being a doctor very seriously.” Umm, a variety of medical professionals condemned the behavior. Sunday evening Dayspring reiterated, “Milton Wolf’s strange explanation meanders between irrational and outright absurd. . . . If his posts and subsequent jokes were truly educational and appropriate, then why didn’t he continue posting them? It doesn’t add up. Milton Wolf’s ghoulish behavior raises serious questions about his character, judgement, honesty and stability.” He further chided the SCF: “The fact that any group would rush to defend behavior that medical ethics professionals so quickly condemned raises questions about their legitimacy, structure, and future.”
Well, the way to stop Wolf, others equally unfit for office and the SCF is to not support or give money to them. And really, you can’t take seriously groups that think the shutdown was a great strategy and that Wolf is a great candidate. SCF, like many other right-wing groups, so prizes ideological rigidity that its leaders fail to use common sense in picking strategy or candidates. Wolf is certainly an embarrassment for the group, but no more so than other candidates it has seized upon or the shutdown gambit it backed. It’s long past the time sober conservatives stop giving them money or listen to what they say.