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November 12, 2006

Russ won't run for president

Sen. Russ Feingold

I hear from Scott Lemieux that Russ Feingold has announced that he won't run for president in 2008.

I'm a little disappointed, but most for sentimental reasons. Russ probably couldn't have won the nomination. A Feingold run would have been a way to raise the profile of certain key issues like the erosion civil liberties in the so-called war on terror. Now that Democrats control the House and the Senate, Feingold can do more good as a legislator and as an investigator than as a candidate.

I hope Feingold is able to make good on the promise he made at Cardozo Law School earlier this year to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the illegal NSA domestic spying program.

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Comments

I have to say I respect him for that. His constituents did, after all, elect him senator, not candidate, and as he would probably not get the nomination, his running would amount to tilting at windmills.
Besides, seriously, one has to doubt the sanity of anyone who would want to wander about the country mouthing the requisite platitudes and inanities, condemning his family and friends to a goldfish bowl life in order to become emperor.

I was just about to email you this story, Lindsay. Fortunately I checked your site before I wasted your time with another email with which I'm sure you're deluged every day.

I'm somewhat disappointed too. I'd be REALLY disappointed if I knew he had a fighting chance, but let's face it: He's just too liberal for the Democratic power structure to support. I think if people actually had a chance to listen to the guy's ideas he could be a real contender, but the powers that be simply won't give him the resources that he would need to effectively get his message out.

I still hope that he will be a major force for change in the Senate. I also hope he will push for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the NSA's domestic surveillance program, and I also pray that he can rev up the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation of the administration's manipulation of pre-war intelligence that Sen. Pat Roberts has dragged out to a virtual standstill. If the Senate can successfully expose high crimes by Bush and his henchman from those investigation then I see no reason on Earth why we shouldn't impeach the motherfucker in the Oval Office. Bush should be in prison for all he's done, so I won't be happy unless he's at least impeached.

We gave the Dems a mandate, let's hope they use it wisely.

Well, the Republicans have just won the 2008 election.

Just saw this t-shirt at DailyKos. Too bad they couldn't be put to good use in 2008.

I'm very sorry also he won't be running, though the media and party leadership would likely have sunk his campaign long before the Republicans even had a chance.

He never had a shot. Honestly, not being a governor or a vice president means starting the game with two strikes against you, to begin with. His liberalism, and being from a northern state more or less sealed the deal before he opened his mouth.

That said... it makes you pine for a country where he could be elected President, doesn't it?

So who's that leave us with? Surely not Clinton. Obama?

Dear Ms. Beyerstein--

Your reasoning seems to go something like this (forgive me if I am extrapolating too much): mediocrity sells (even though people in general are sick of mediocrity). Therefore, it's better to go with a mediocrity (like John Kerry), on order to conquer a worse mediocrity. In other words: Feingold shouldn't run, because he's too radical, too smart, too capable, and has too much integrity, and therefore is incapable of winning the nomination, since most of his fellow Democrats lack his focus and clarity.

"cfrost" is probably correct in stating that he will be more useful in his current occupation. But could he someday win election to the highest office in the land? I don't know. My point is that the argument against excellence as a political commodity is wearing thin, at least for me. If nobody radical and risk-taking ever takes a determined run at those high offices, our government will be paralyzed in its mediocrity forever, even if a few people (and they are always few in Washington) like Feingold are among their ranks.

Were the majority of people in America clamoring for television shows that show people literally eating insects and submerging themselves in tanks full of scorpions and worms, for money, before those shows actually aired? Of course not. Someone foisted these programs on the public, and it's true that they have met with resounding success, at least on their own playing field. But the real majority, as anyone can see if they look at amount of viewers compared to the entire population, has never even watched these programs. Similarly, even in this heated political season, half the eligible population still doesn't turn up at the polls.

Some of the non-voters may be apathetic and ignorant, but a large chunk of them don't vote because they are smart enough to be disgusted with both parties, and they hunger for excellence and courage in high places, because they hunger for it in ALL places.

The world is in a precarious situation, and the idea that intelligence and radicalism is not a marketable quality in America needs to be challenged, and disproved by victory someday, if we are to survive and grow.

And in my opinion, Feingold should ditch the D and run as an independent, next time. If it worked for a fascist like Lieberman, it might work for him.

sincerely,

Luke Buckham.

He's just too liberal for the Democratic power structure to support.

His liberalism, and being from a northern state more or less sealed the deal before he opened his mouth.

My point is that the argument against excellence as a political commodity is wearing thin, at least for me. ... Some of the non-voters may be apathetic and ignorant, but a large chunk of them don't vote because they are smart enough to be disgusted with both parties, and they hunger for excellence and courage in high places, because they hunger for it in ALL places.

The world is in a precarious situation, and the idea that intelligence and radicalism is not a marketable quality in America needs to be challenged, and disproved by victory someday, if we are to survive and grow.

Luke Buckham rules the day for me, all the way. Exactly the sort of thing I was about to say. Observing the Democratic Party's timidity in nominating a committed liberal, in their quailing, palsied fear that everyone will reject such a person, has condemned us to one of those interminable situations where everyone says, "someone should...", but everyone's afraid to actually do the thing. If being socially liberal is some sort of political third rail (although it is--for _some_ of the electorate, and I would say by and large the stupid portion, incapable of considering anyone's ideas on a deeper level than that), then Obama's race would probably be an issue for those of such a mindset. But forget them. Why should we let the reactionary shallow-thinkers dictate our programming--er, I mean campaigns? We can win with someone committed, someone strong and someone with an independent mind and a conscience. Barbara Boxer or maybe Nancy Pelosi spring to mind.

Should specify--the third and fourth bolded paragraphs were from Luke Buckham, with whom I agreed. The first and second quotes were from John L and Anthony Damiani, who rock but with whom I disagree this time. I do agree that the media are a problem, with the infuriating way they cast anything left of Dick Cheney as being as impulsive and radical as an SDS meeting. The portion of the electorate that are so mouth-breathing stupid and apathetic that they can't educate themselves beyond viewing the campaign ads they're forced to sit through is also a problem. But this business of letting those mouth-breathers set the terms of the discourse has GOT to f------ stop. Now.

He's just too liberal for the Democratic power structure to support.

I don't think that's quite it. I've had the opportunity to talk to him at length (my wife is a distant relation), and I think you might be surprised how "conservative" he can be - especially on fiscal matters. He really is a product of the La Follette tradition, which outside of Wisconsin can appear quite quirky - then as now.

And I think that's the biggest obstacle. La Follette used to drive people crazy with his capital P Progressive ideals, and so can Russ. He can be a real SOB, but he doesn't use it to twist arms and slap backs in the way "normal" politicians do. He even made me want to strangle him when he voted for Ashcroft, but he did it on principle. He simply doesn't recognize those kinds of partisan considerations.

I think he's viewed and misunderstood as a kind of a goo-goo Ned Flanders character on the Hill, and it prevents him from building the power blocs and from opening the financial spigots necessary to climb to the top of the heap. For good and bad, there's really no one else like him in Washington.

>I think he's viewed and misunderstood as a kind of a goo-goo Ned Flanders character on the Hill,

God, I never would have viewed him that way. In fact, I pretty much viewed him as "what the f--- could anyone possibly object to besides his Jewishness, and are we really still at the point where that alone could sink his viability?" But I'm not on the Hill.

If Russ had wanted to run in '08, I would have backed him to the hilt. He would have been a long shot, but I never thought it was impossible for him to win the leadership, or for that matter the general. It just would have been very difficult.

He's not that old. Why not back him in 2012, if he still wants the job. Maybe we'll have succeeded in pushing the national discussion to the left and anti-Semitism and pro-marriage bigotry will have decreased just a bit.

To be clear, I AGREE with Mr. Buckham statement's (and 1984's endorsement of his statement) that "[i]f nobody radical and risk-taking ever takes a determined run at those high offices, our government will be paralyzed in its mediocrity forever, even if a few people (and they are always few in Washington) like Feingold are among their ranks." I believe Sen. Feingold would make a wonderful president. He may not score a perfect 100% on a liberalism report card, but he is still one of the most liberal members of Congress. Therefore I still stand by my original statement that the current power structure of the Democratic Party would not get behind a Feingold presidential candidacy. They still go after deep-pocket donors just as shamelessly as the Republicans do, and those donors will not financially back a candidate that they think could hurt their bottom lines.

The only way I think Feingold stands a real chance is for publically funded elections. If every candidate came out of the gate with the same bankroll then it would simply be a matter of who had the best ideas AND who could sell those ideas the best. I think Feingold would win on both counts. Unfortunately for America our candidates depend on donations to get their message out to the people, and that is why I think Feingold couldn't win in the current system we have. He's not "too liberal" for America, he's just "too liberal" for corporations who make tons of soft money contributions to both parties. The DNC will not back a candidate who hurts their bankroll, so that is why he would be a long shot. Still, he'd be a long shot I'd campaign my ass off for should he change his mind.

I guess we should all just be thankful that a man of his caliber is a United States Senator. He's still pretty powerful in that respect, and as I stated previously I hope he can bring about change for the better in his current position.

The problem with the "too liberal" comment is that in 2004, Feingold won Wisconsin by a larger margin than Kerry did, carrying some counties that voted for Bush.

Alon:

That's why I said Feingold is NOT "too liberal" for America; he's just "too liberal" for corporate donors to the DNC. I think he's "just right" for roughly 70% of America, the remaining 30% are die-hard Republicans who currently support Bush and would support Saddam Hussein as long as he had an elephant on all his campaign signs.

>He's not "too liberal" for America, he's just "too liberal" for corporations who make tons of soft money contributions to both parties.

>The DNC will not back a candidate who hurts their bankroll,

Gotcha John, true.

Actually, he is to the left of most Americans on almost all issues. But most of these issues are center-shifted right since the Democratic Party as a whole doesn't take the liberal position on them, and at any rate, being to the left of most Americans doesn't make a politician unelectable any more than being to the right of most Americans does.

Yeah, he's definitely way left of center. But not in the same way that, say, Paul Wellstone was. It's a weird mix of reform-minded liberalism and libertarianism that plays very well here in WI but not so much elsewhere.

He has an uncanny knack for playing both sides of the aisle here. But it's precisely the opposite in Washington and he ends up pissing everybody off to some degree. In a national role he'd eventually end up stepping on several major liberal and Democratic credos. And he'd never, ever back down, even if it meant losing support.

My heart would love to see him as president, but my brain tells me he'd risk falling into the Jimmy Carter trap. He's just too principled to play the political compromise game.

Which libertarian ideas does he have?

Russ Feingold 2008 = Paul Tsongas 1992. I mean, come on, people. I would have loved for him to win the nomination, but he wouldn't have gotten anywhere. Of course, I was a Tsongas supporter in '92.

I grew up in WI and lived there until 2001. I voted for Feingold for Senator as I thought he along with Herb Kohl do a great job representing the views of the WI people (fiscally conservative, socially liberal with a twinge of individuality and libertarianism). I like Russ as a person and a politician because he has integrity and is true to his word. He is a rare breed among politicians.

That being said, I just don't see this guy as President. Sure, he would be a vast improvement over The Shrub, but hell, I think the dead guy who beat Ashcroft could do a better jon than him...and that guy is dead! Feingold does not have national appeal and his radical stances of the last couple of years have made him seem extremely leftist, even though he truly is not. I also agree with most of the above sentiments regarding Russ, but with Obama and Hilary, this poor guy never stood a chance.

(Side note: I was very disappointed Feingold did not speak up and attempt to get the gay marriage ban amendment vote shot down in WI. I thought for sure he and Kohl would rally their bases to get that awful amendment shot down. Very disappointing.)

Let sleeping dogs lie... Lewis

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