The Buzz

February 28, 2014

A bad week for Milton Wolf benefits Pat Roberts

Maybe the U.S. senator from Kansas can relax now. During the last seven days, his campaign ensured that his upstart primary opponent had a “Todd Akin week” bad enough to all but take the radiologist out of the race.

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Maybe Pat Roberts can now start chatting up Kathleen Sebelius again.

Roberts, a three-term senator, called for his old friend’s resignation as health and human services secretary shortly after his upstart primary opponent, Milton Wolf, gave Roberts grief for supporting Sebelius over the years.

Roberts’ call to dump Sebelius was seen in some quarters as a gross overreaction to Wolf’s tea-party-driven primary challenge.

Maybe Roberts can relax now. During the last seven days, his campaign ensured that Wolf had a “Todd Akin week” bad enough to all but take Wolf out of the race. (Akin bombed his own 2012 Senate campaign by suggesting “legitimate rape” victims rarely get pregnant.)

This was the week that saw The Topeka Capital-Journal come out with a story that highlighted Wolf’s practice of posting X-ray images of grisly injuries to Facebook, then making jokes about it.

Wolf, a radiologist, called one image an “all-time favorite” and asked, “What kind of gun blows somebody’s head completely off? I’ve got to get one of those.”

Of another X-ray displaying a fatal gunshot, Wolf said the victim “wasn’t going to complain about the awkward positioning of his head for an X-ray.”

Wolf only compounded his faulty judgment by telling the Capital-Journal that his posting of X-rays was not a big deal. The material was akin, he said, to information found in “medical educational textbooks.” He said it was OK to post the images because the victim wasn’t identified.

Wolf apologized, saying, “My mistakes are my own, and I take full responsibility for them.”

Still, the story got wide play.

Also this week, The Star wrote about a lawsuit in which a former employee accused Alliance Radiology — Wolf is a partner in the firm — of a “price-fixing scheme” designed to prevent competition and drive up costs for services such as MRI diagnoses.

The Roberts campaign quickly suggested that Wolf is more into profits than patients, which Wolf denied.

This is what opposition research, often leaked to the press, does.

The timing was exquisite. It came as Wolf continued to raise questions about Roberts’ residency, or lack of it, in Kansas.

Now the residency story is off the rails — replaced by Wolf’s Facebook fiasco. Wolf needed to run a nearly perfect campaign and present himself as an almost perfect candidate to beat a longtime incumbent.

Now Sebelius’ prospects look much better than Wolf’s.

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