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Just when you thought it was safe to move on from the 2016 presidential campaign, a topic that grabbed a brief turn in the spotlight has again come to, well, a head: Gov. Scott Walker’s explanation for his bald spot.
How did it resurface?
Credit -- or blame -- U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, who began by ripping into Walker’s plan to make Wisconsin the first state in the nation to require needy but able-bodied adults to work and submit to drug tests to get Medicaid coverage.
On June 6, 2017, Walker’s administration asked the federal government for permission to require the tests, which would apply to people seeking coverage through the state’s BadgerCare program.
"Unemployment is low, and the percentage of people working in Wisconsin is among the best in the nation," Walker said in a statement at the time. "This application is a step in the right direction, and we’re continuing to build on Wisconsin’s legacy as a leader in welfare reform."
A few days later, on June 8, 2017, Pocan slammed the proposal as unoriginal during a radio interview on "The Thom Hartmann Program." He was responding to a caller -- Dave from Hoffman Estates, Ill.
"This is one we’ve seen in other states," Pocan said. "It just costs money. It hasn’t been proven to find people who are using drugs who are getting the money. It’s one of these demonizing tools of the poor again."
Then his policy rip, turned into this riff:
"Trust me, Scott Walker has not had an original thought in his head for a long, long time," Pocan said. "The most original thing he said recently is that he got his bald spot from hitting his head on a cabinet, and it’s not a joke. He actually said his bald spot came because he hit his head on a cabinet."
To be sure, Pocan has less hair than Walker.
But is Pocan right?
When asked for backup, Pocan spokesman David Kolovson cited a statement from a Oct. 18, 2014, Wisconsin State Journal article:
"The bald spot, (Walker) said, was the result of a repair incident in the kitchen when he banged his head on an open kitchen cabinet door while making repairs requested by his wife, Tonette."
Kolovson also cited a June 15, 2015, Washington Post article that quoted Walker:
"And I wish I could grow a little bit more hair on my scar up there," he said, mentioning his bald spot, which he says is the result of having bumped his head while fixing a sink years ago and not natural aging.
A similar statement showed up in a Sept. 4, 2015, article on BBCNews.com.
Carolyn Jacob, a board certified dermatologist, said Walker’s explanation is not outside the realm of the possible.
"It really depends on if he actually cut his scalp on the cabinet," said Jacob, a medical doctor and director of Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology. "A scar would form and would not grow hair."
"However," Jacob continued, "if he suddenly developed a circular spot in the same area, it may be unrelated but coincidental. We often see alopecia areata (circle/patches of hair loss) on patients, and no one knows why anyone gets it."
Another expert, Ronda Farah, a medical doctor and assistant professor in the Department of Dermatology at the University of Minnesota, also spoke in general terms and not directly about Walker. She said an injury or trauma to the head could cause a bald spot.
"If you have trauma to the head that leaves a scar, you could definitely get a bald spot." Farah said. "In general, I have seen hair loss at areas of trauma and scarring on the body and scalp."
A spokesman for Walker’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Pocan claimed Walker recently said "he got his bald spot from hitting his head on a cabinet, and it's not a joke, he actually said that his bald spot came because he hit his head on a cabinet."
Walker did make that claim, but it surfaced two years ago, during the early stages of the 2016 presidential campaign. So it was not as recent as Pocan indicated. Nor was it as farfetched as he suggested, at least according to two experts on hair loss.
We rate Pocan’s claim Mostly True.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 7, 2017
"The Thom Hartmann Program," posted on Youtube June 8, 2017,
"Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients and Public Assistance," National Conference of State Legislatures. March 3, 2017.
"On the Capitol: Scott Walker says cabinet created his bald spot," Wisconsin State Journal Oct. 18, 2014
"Iowa State Fair fare fits Scott Walker’s calorie-heavy, all-American diet," Washington Post, June 6, 2015
Email comments from David Kolovson, communications director for U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, June 12, 2017.
Email comments from Carolyn Jacob, director of Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology, June 14, 2017.
Phone and email comments from Ronda Farah, assistant professor in the Department of Dermatology at the University of Minnesota, June 15, 2017.
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