Senator Feingold Looks Weaker By Not Standing Shoulder To Shoulder With President Obama On Labor Day


I am very troubled by a decision that Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold made this Labor Day weekend.  When President Obama arrived in Milwaukee Senator Feingold was absent, telling everyone that he had a previous committment to an event in Janesville.

While it is true that Janesville held a Labor Day event, like  so many places all around the country, the Senator’s reason for not being with the President rings hollow.  For all of us who see every newscast peppered with campaign ads we know the reason Feingold did not stand with the President has to do with politics.

And I am not amused.

For a Senator who has taken so many tough, principled, and in my opinion correct votes,  I do not like to see Feingold reduced to this type of behavior for an election.

Some would argue that it was smart for Feingold, who is in a heated election, to not attend as the President has troubling poll numbers, and Republicans would like nothing better than to show the two Democratic leaders give a hug on stage. That image would likely been used over and over in Republican campaign commercials, as a way to prove some sinister liberal plan exists ‘to grow government.’

I, however, think Senator Feingold should have attended, and went out of his way to embrace President Obama.

Here is why. 

Senator Feingold and President Obama have nothing to be ashamed of, and much to be proud of as they reflect on their records.  But as we venture along this campaign season it is hard to know that when too many Democrats act as it they are spooked by their own shadow.

I am perplexed with Democrats who can not stand up and take credit for the good things that been done over the past two years, or refuse to stand alongside those who brought them to the dance.   One of the main problems for Democrats as the mid-term elections approach is the lack of spine in strutting their accomplishments.  While Democrats limp along without cheering for what was gained, Republicans are more than happy to spin the past two years into a frightful liberal nightmare. 

Health care legislation was a victory, as was financial reform, and the stimulus bill.  None was easy, but all were needed.  When Democrats do not stand up and defend their actions they allow the opposition to paint the picture and fill in the words.  That allows for distortion and an erosion of support among the electorate.  If Democrats will not stand up for their own list of accomplishments, how can they compete against an energized Republican opponent?

While Feingold did praise the President in Janesville, stating he stands with Obama and is supportive of his efforts to rejuvenate the economy, it would have been far more appropriate to have truly stood with him in person.

It makes Senator Feingold look weak when Republicans are able to spook him into not standing with the President when he visits Wisconsin.  That is not the image Democrats want to convey with only about 60 days to go until we cast votes.

There is another reason I have problems with Feingold’s decision not to stand with Obama.  It just was not a very classy thing to do.  Regardless of politics you should always stand with your friends.  There comes a time when you say, whatever the effects, I will not turn my back on the leader of the free world.   The President is coming to my state, and by God I will be there with him.   That may seem corny and outdated in this era of slash and burn politics, but it is a standard I still think has merit.  It is a value I think many of my fellow citizens share, even in this jaded time in which we live.

Republicans would have tried to use the event to their advantage with pictures and ads.  Let them.  It is not as if these antics have not been done before.

But by not standing shoulder to shoulder with President Obama on Labor Day another picture has emerged of Senator Feingold.

In this one he looks smaller. Weaker.

And the voters see that.

8 thoughts on “Senator Feingold Looks Weaker By Not Standing Shoulder To Shoulder With President Obama On Labor Day

  1. Tom_Beebe

    Feingold joined John McCain in an attempt to clean up our political process. Though it was halfhearted and ultimately failed in the court, it is a far cry from the shoddy Chicago politics Obama rode to Washington. An anti-corruption agenda will prevail this next election. It is the force behind the anti-incumbent movement that fuels the Tea Party. Those who embrace it will rise to power in the next two elections. GOP/DEM labels will mean little. If it takes an ammendment to pass the supremes, here’s my suggestion (with notes). ……..

    AMENDMENT XXVIII

    No candidate for the Presidency or either house of Congress shall accept contributions in cash or in kind from any organization or group of persons for expenses incurred in a campaign for that office. All such contributions shall be made by individuals who shall attest that the funds or other items of value are from their own resources and that they have not received, nor have they been promised, offsetting items of value from any other party in exchange for their contribution. The identity and extent of contributions to such campaigns shall be made public for a period of thirty days from receipt before being employed or used as collateral for a loan by such campaigns.

    No person may be elected to either house of Congress more than two times.

  2. Purplepenquin

    Given Pres. Obama’s expansion of the War on Drugs, his renewal of the Patriot Act, and his new policy of targeting American citizens for assassinations (just a few quick examples) makes it pretty hard for a man of integrity like Sen Feingold to appear on stage with him. Our Senator looks stronger for making a stand like this.

  3. This is absurd. Sen. Feingold’s hometown is Janesville. He ALWAYS marches in the Labor Day parade in Janesville. No city has been hit harder by the economic collapse than Janesville. It would have been hollow and absurd if Feingold gave the finger to Janesville and said “Gotta hang with the President, sorry folks.” Tammy Baldwin wasn’t in Milwaukee. Steve Kagan wasn’t in Milwaukee. Dave Obey wasn’t in Milwaukee. Ron Kind wasn’t in Milwaukee. Herb Kohl was there, but he didn’t go on stage.

    Feingold didn’t need to be in Milwaukee. When speakers thanked Feingold and Kohl for their support the cheering for Kohl was very mediocre. The cheering for Feingold was over the top. I would have been embarrassed to be Kohl.

  4. Skip

    It’s disheartening to know that you are troubled by Feingold’s decision but moving to deprive a citizen of his life without due process is nothing to be ashamed of, in your view. What happened to upholding the Constitution?

    Creating a “Deficit Commission” which works in secrecy (contrary to Obama’s campaign promises) that is working towards slashing Social Security is nothing to be ashamed of?

    And here I thought you were a centrist. Instead you’re just a right-leaning conservative who bows down before and gives near total deference to Big Daddy President who can do no wrong and will make everything better.

    That is the real shame.

  5. aaron

    I think you made a good point about why the Senator was not with the President. Feingold should have been there. It is amazing how schedules can be changed when people want them to change. I know from reading your blog that you support Feingold. I do too. But I also understand what you mean about this making him look weaker. That should worry everyone.

  6. Feingold was just with the Prez. in Menomonie Falls, I know for a fact he tried to work with the White house to make that happen. Leave it to you to piss on Russ when he is being out spent 3-1.

  7. I disagree with you on this one Deke. Feingold did the right thing. I’m one of these leftist who is not extremely proud of Obama. Sure he’s done a few good token things, but to me he is looking more and more like a Pro-Wall Street Corporatist Democrat, who’s Foreign Policies record is abysmal. Feingold is a Maverick. He knows what he is doing. He is a great man of integrity, unlike Obama.

  8. Mel

    I agree with you. Russ did a pretty shitty thing by trying to ‘go on his own’. I think Obama is the best thing this country has had happen to it in years. Those that say otherwise are just a bunch of blind Republicans or closet Republicans that don’t want to admit that they put a Texas Chimp in the White House for 8 years and let him get us into this mess!

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