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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Lunch with Russ. I call him Russ.

People have asked about the "bloggers' lunch" with Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold that I attended last Saturday. I'm usually a no-show at these things (and by "these things," I mean everything), but as it happens, a gig brought me to that part of town earlier that day. So what the hell.

It was only while shaking hands with the Senator that the rather intimidating thought struck me: "Hey. This guy could be the president in a few years."

The other attendees came prepared with pens and notepads; you should therefore check out their reports if you want to know what the senator actually said. (Here and here and here and here and here and here.) Feingold did indeed pick up the check. Had I known he would pull a trick like that, I would have ordered something pricier than the Minestroni soup. (Ah, Beverly Hills waiters! I had forgotten how snooty they can be: "Eating light today, are we, sir?") It can now be said that Cannonfire has taken a political payoff in the form of soup. If any other politicians care to stake me to even nicer meals, my contact information is above.

Bottom line: Senator Feingold is the real deal and would make a terrific president. And that thought ran through my head even before he grabbed the check. He has something of a Harry Truman-esque air -- a smarter-than-average average guy who knows how to talk to all sorts of people without once seeming to pander or duck.

If you owned a store, this is a guy you'd want running it. That statement may strike some people as faint praise, but in my book, it's the highest compliment any politician can or should get. Six years ago, pundits might have claimed that Americans want a visionary, not a shop-keeper. But the Bush era has taught us that we invite disaster if we allow the nation to be headed by someone who lacks basic managerial skills, someone who could never have run Truman's haberdashery, someone who views himself as a prophet or a potentate rather than an employee of the people.

Feingold intimated that the more tradition-minded managers of the Democratic party haven't always supported him. Had they seen it coming, they would never have countenanced his call for the censure of George W. Bush. Given this display of Squishy Spine Syndrome, the question arises: If we get a Democratic majority, does that mean we will get investigations of the Bush administration, investigations that we bloggers have demanded for years? (While I did not actually use the words "We want BLOOD," such was the intended sentiment, figuratively speaking.) Feingold assured us that investigations probably will take place once "the good guys" get a little subpoena power.

We shall see. It's hard to trust mainstream Dems when so few of them would back Feingold's very reasonable call for censure.

Should we support Feingold in the primaries, if he chooses to run? Possibly. But John Kerry is making definite signals of wanting to give it another go, and I've always liked him. (And a hearty Scalia-esque Vaffanculo to anyone who says I shouldn't.) That said, Feingold does convey the impression that he could repair the broken machineries of state. Besides, just as only a Nixon could go to China, perhaps only the first Jewish president (one not named Lieberman) can bring some common sense and balance to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Since some folks might consider the preceding statement impolitic, let's make one thing clear: I was invited to this outing by fellow blogger Brad Friedman, not by Feingold's people, who have probably never seen this blog. That point needs emphasis, lest some right-winger reference one of the more outlandish comments posted here in order to damn the senator by association.

By the way, there were some absolutely gorgeous women sitting in the booth right behind Senator Feingold. He probably thought I was hanging on his every word. Well, I was listening.
Comments:
People are not going to come out enthusiastically for Kerry. In 2000, Al Gore didn't give up for a month; in 2004, Kerry surrendered the next day. He had promised to fight for us. I don't trust him anymore. I don't think this position warrants obscene Italian curses.
—gmanedit
 
Perhaps the first Palestinian President will be able to bring some common sense to the Israel, Palestine conflict.
 
great post, joe!! eagerly awaited, and you didn't disappoint. but then, you never do.

i've been keeping my eye on russ since he voted against the USAPATRIOT act, and he has never disappointed, either.

as for kerry, i cannot fault him for "surrendering" on 11/3. it is now a year and a half out, and we still have not managed to garner enough evidence hard enough to convince the public of how thoroughly that election was stolen. are you suggesting, then, that he should still be holding out? the evidence before them then was not enough, and the rightwing media madness would have made mincemeat of him had he played sour grapes.

no; kerry is most gracious, above all, something those goons do not understand. please tell me you do, gmanedit. i know we are impatient with all this insanity, but those who truly lead really must recognize how important timing is. and when you don't hold the power in any house or the media, you must tread lightly.

better to be wise than right.

and anon, i definitely agree that more palestinian influence is needed. but given our US history of supporting everything israel does, for good or ill, i think it would actually take a jew to be the one who acknowledges the wrongdoing and forces israel as occupiers to back off. that symbolism would be far far more powerful than coming from the palestinians as victims here.

anyway, we now have a leader to watch. and i'm also excited about the press al gore is getting, eh? someone rightwing emailed me today that the 08 dem convention will be entertaining for the ABC (anyone but clinton) aspect. i responded that the dem convention will be boring as drying paint compared the repubs' attempts to spin away all the corruption and crimes against the constitution and humanity. moreover, it may well be their final finale funeral for the collective suicide of a once great party.

now THAT'S entertainment.
 
In reply to III...

Had Kerry stood up and demanded that EVERY VOTE BE COUNTED as he promised prior to quitting the day after the Election, we would likely have had the evidence LONG AGO to show that Kerry received more votes than Bush in Ohio. Even *with* the massive disenfranchisement that went on there.

Such as it is, the information we *do* now have which strongly suggests that Kerry likely received more votes than Bush, was gathered by a bunch of scrappy patriots with little or no budget at all.

The $15 million that Kerry had left on Election Day, along with the bully pulpit and standing he would have brought to a complete recount/audit would likely have been more than enough to expose what *really* happened there within days.

I'll have to join the first commenter here in expressing my (likely) unrepairable disappointment in Kerry as of Nov. 3, 2004.
 
Hear, hear Brad F. III's argument is
that since with a news blackout our
arguments failed to convince,
therefore our arguments were poor.
Baloney! Kerry let us down bigtime
Nov. 3. If somebody had just
exercised a little leadership, we
could have had a million people in the
street.
 
A million people? Fantasy. Had Kerry tried ANY of that crap, all he would have accomplished was the unhappy task of turning his name into the punchline of every other joke on late night TV. And he might have buried the party at the same time.
 
Joseph? I love you. Just had to get that out. I was going to post something...less affectionate about the last paragraph of your Feingold entry, which is otherwise terrific (as usual) except...nevermind. I LOVE YOU.

Ahem. To the pathetic, pitiable, illiterate Kerry-haters flaming this blog? Learn to read. Then go read the Cannonfire archives, as well as something (anything) meaninful about John Kerry, who will probably be your next president--and actually recognized as such this time around. No, the propaganda doesn't count. Go read some books. Go read his book. To prepare yourselves, if nothing else. Feingold's fine, and if he gets the nod, I'll support, but I'm pretty sure it's going to be Kerry. The haters are going to have a rough 2008-9, I think.
 
Joseph,
Kerry would have buried the Party had he acknowledged the crisis of the 2004 election? You must be of the "We must be nice to the Repubs so they will only torture the Constitution a little bit and maybe they'll let us win sometimes" school.

The greatest criticism of the Dems is that they do not exercise leadership. And Kerry did not exercise leadership. Millions of black voters in 2004 will never vote again. What's the use? Even when Rep. Conyers provided a 115-page report, the Dems still voted to accept the Ohio electors.

Nobody knows how many people might or might not have turned out to protest the conduct of the election. We sat in shock. One million people is only 1% of those who voted for Kerry plus 0.6% of those who didn't vote at all.

Even had Kerry's leadership been deemed a mistake, he couldn't bury the Party half as fast as Bush is burying the Republicans, and the Dems would be a lot more respected than they are today. What Kerry did to black voters in Florida and Ohio is what Bush did to blacks in Louisiana. I worked for him full time and would have been happy to see him as President but I lost respect for him November 3.
 
Jen, about those women behind the senator: You may be miffed to learn that one of my fellow bloggers tells me that he only pretended to take notes. "I was actually sketching."

Incidnentally, the same day I had lunch with the potential future president, my ladyfriend told me that she had scored a free pass to the Renaissance Faire. I asked how I could get one. "You can't," she explained. "You don't know the right people."
 
Well, I still love you. I understand that you are entirely spoken for, which is as it should be, but come on. Don't be so hard on yourself. Ren Faire ticket access or no--how great is this blog? I'm sure you know lots of the other kinds of right people.
 
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