Gordon Hintz’s “Emotions” Do Not Include Contrition

If there’s one thing which could be said of state Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh), it is that he is extremely sure of himself.

Hintz, the only announced candidate for Wisconsin Assembly Democrats to be their new minority leader after an inner-caucus coup against outgoing leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha), began what can only be described as a “Getting to Know You” tour with statewide media. This included an appearance on “Upfront with Mike Gousha,” a public policy program from Hearst Broadcasting with airs on select stations in Wisconsin’s major media markets.

Most of the interview had the veteran newsman Gousha focusing on what Hintz’s hoped to accomplish for Assembly Democrats. This included the challenges and opportunities for the 2018 midterms and where he hoped to take to caucus if he were to assume leadership. But it was Gousha’s final question which may have given the most telling insight into Hintz’s personality.

As the interview wrapped up, Gousha brought up a number of public criticisms the Republican Party of Wisconsin had been laying on Hintz since his announced run for leadership. Among these have included a January 2011 arrest at an Appleton massage parlor during a prostitution sting and a February 2011 incident in the state assembly chamber where Hintz told a female Republican colleague she was “F—ing Dead” after the vote on Act 10.

How Hintz answered the question offered a fascinating look into the representative’s personal level of humility and ability to take responsibility for his actions. (Quote begins at 4:42.)

GOUSHA: Final question and this is something the Republican Party raised immediately after you said you’d be interested in this post.

They hit you with this label, “Sleazy politician,” and they talk about a past incident at Appleton in a massage parlor, where there was a citation involved, but I think more important to this discussion is after the Act 10 vote, this incident that occurred where you yelled at then-lawmaker Michelle Litjens (R-Winneconne), and told her she was ‘Blanking Dead.’

The question is, is it about temperament? For a leadership post, do you have the temperament for that?

HINTZ: Well, that’s the challenge that’s out there and it’s something that I’m self-aware of. But when I’m upset, it’s usually because I’m upset…um, and ah, there’s good ways that comes out and bad ways that it comes out. I’m self-aware enough to know what my strengths and weaknesses are and I certainly had to make that assessment as I take something like this on. 

But I’m confident in my ability to be able to motivate us. To put people in the right positions to succeed, and hopefully be able to inspire us as well. So the positive side of having energy and believing in what you do is that I think I’ll be able to do that.

While there’s nothing wrong with Hintz’s answer per se, its tone is telling in his inability to even make any reference to the event or relay any act of contrition to what happened in 2011. There’s no on-air apology to Litjens. He also seems incapable of offering viewers little to no remorse for what he said or the tone to which he said it in.

In short, Hintz’s answer is non-responsive to Gousha’s question. He translates temperament (and anger management issues) into “having energy.”

While that’s a fascinating thing to discover about the potential future leader of Wisconsin’s Assembly Democrats, it portents that things like the 2011 “incidents” could be down the road and civility in Madison will continue to be at an all-time low.