Boots & Sabers

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1357, 19 May 15

Return of Feingold

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here it is:

In what is going to be a fascinating rematch to watch, Russ Feingold announced last week that he is running for United State Senate against the upstart who defeated him five years ago, Sen. Ron Johnson. The political landscape is very different from the last time Feingold asked the voters for their votes, but he is still the same doctrinaire liberal.

Since Feingold was cast out of the Senate after 18 years in the anti-Obamacare Republican wave of 2010, he has been preparing to run again. He formed a liberal Political Action Committee called Progressives United, which collected money, fueled some liberal causes and will now become an arm of his campaign for Senate. He then took an excessively noncontroversial position as a special envoy to Africa, which allowed him to stay out of the political fray and avoid getting on the wrong side of sticky issues.

Now Feingold has a lot of money and has been largely out of the public eye for half a decade. This allows him an opportunity to reintroduce himself to Wisconsin’s voters. Let us remember who Feingold is and what kind of senator he was.

Feingold represented Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate for 18 years. There are two remarkable things about his tenure. The first thing is just how inconsequential he was. Hailing from a state that has elected some senators who made a mark like Robert LaFollette, William Proxmire, Gaylord Nelson and, yes, even Joe McCarthy, Feingold’s tenure is easily forgotten.

During Feingold’s 18-year tenure, he is remembered for only one piece of legislation — the McCain-Feingold law that put severe restrictions on constitutionally protected speech. Much of that law was struck down by the Supreme Court as a violation of the First Amendment. It is a touch ironic that Feingold, who likes to advertise himself as a champion of civil rights, was the author of a law that was struck down for violating civil rights.

But the reason that Feingold’s lengthy tenure was so undistinguished is because he is so incredibly liberal. Russ Feingold calls himself a “progressive,” which is the more politically correct, but less honest, than “socialist.” During his time in the Senate, Feingold was so far to the left that he couldn’t even get a majority of his fellow Democrats to support his ideas.

For example, Feingold voted against banning partial birth abortions and against notifying parents of minors who get an abortion out of state. He voted in favor of the trillion-dollar stimulus package and for Obamacare. In fact, his championing of Obamacare is what is widely viewed as the reason for losing re-election.

Feingold voted against education savings accounts, medical saving accounts, Roth IRAs and personal retirement accounts. He voted against school vouchers for the District of Columbia. He voted against voluntary prayer in schools. He has repeatedly voted for various bans and restrictions on oil drilling and for factoring global warming into federal project planning. Senator Feingold supported using the power of eminent domain for parks and grazing land and the Cash for Clunkers program. He voted to support sanctuary cities and to allow illegal aliens to take Social Security.

As our senator, Feingold voted against repealing the death tax and the alternative minimum tax. He voted for higher taxes on capital gains and dividends. He voted for dozens of tax increases and opposed virtually every effort to reduce taxes.

I could go on into next week’s column, but you get the picture. Feingold was, and is, a true-blue, hardcore liberal. Wisconsin already has one ineffectual liberal Senator. We surely do not need a second one.


1357, 19 May 2015


  1. Jadedly Unbiased

    Pointing out the many things viewed as failures by conservatives isn’t necessarily a clear picture of Feingold’s voting record. Many of the things Feingold voted down contained other controversial language any responsible representative wouldn’t have been willing to overlook. I agree he is a hard core liberal but redefining his voting record to objectify your political stance is nothing more then dishonest. Comparing Johnson’s voting record, signature bills and public service accomplishments to Feingold’s would be more appropriate. These slash and bash tactic are what voters are getting tired of and adds to the continued dysfunction in D.C. If I remember correctly Feingold refused to vote with his party on many occasions. On those occasions he was clearly putting the voice of his constituents before his party. That I admire and will consider when placing my vote.

  2. Kevin Scheunemann

    Russ supports McCain-Feingold which is a total assault of free speech and 1st amendment.

    Russ supports unborn baby extermination.

    Russ nealry always supports higher taxes.

    Russ is against the Keystone Pipeline which plays into the hands of rich Democrat Warren Buffett (his rail ways ship oil).

    These 4 things alone, make him an awful choice for U.S. Senate.

  3. Mark Maley

    Quite possible the election results reverse themselves in a presidential election year .

    “Liberal, Liberal, Liberal worked the last time. But attitudes change .

    Just because the Supreme Cpurt decided corporations are people , most folks believe ( correctly ) that unlimited funds to elect candidates is a terrible idea .

    They also are now against the Iraq war which Feingold voted against .

    And he voted on one count to impeach Bill Clinton.

    Johnsons win last time was a fluke . I would feel better about Walkers national chances than RoJo’s selling that the Republican agenda is working ( specifically on Jobs ) here in Wisconsin .

    And I think Waller is going to get taken apart by His GOP opponents in any national debates for
    His inability to explain why his policies havent helped the Wisconsin economy improve .

    If you buy Walkers idea that Wisconisin is doing great , you have to love Obama’s national economy
    Producing 5 straight years of job growth

  4. Kevin Scheunemann


    If unlimited funds to candidates is a bad thing, you must sure denounce the Clinton Foundation.

    Who’s in charge of the limits on speech? You? Chisolm? Russ? Any limits on speech make me cringe in fear.

    If you are playing Russ will win because of presidential turnout year, what does that say about the low information voter that only cares about voting during a presidential year? You and I both know the more important elections, and greater voter influence is in local elections and off year elections.

    If the faithful regular voting electorate votes one way, and the casual, unimformed, only comes to polls for president voter, and votes another way, that is a big dysfunction. So when we talk about D.C. dysfunction, it really starts with the causal Democrat voter that only turns out for president.

  5. Mark Maley

    Off year elections – informed GOP voters – good

    Presidential election year – minorities , women – bad

    Got it

    PS – RO JO is gone and you know it

  6. Jadedly Unbiased

    I don’t know of anyone who is pro-abortion. If a candidate shouldn’t be considered because they “support unborn baby extermination” why do some people support Walker. He has had the majority in Madison and yet fails to make abortion illegal. Failing to take action on such an important issue could be perceived as supporting baby extermination.

    “Nearly always supports higher taxes” is true about every politician. They mask them in new fees or increase existing ones. They rewrite tax law to reduce or eliminate tax breaks, credits and exemptions. Last year my family had $1800 stolen do to Walkers policies. I have the tax returns to prove it.

    Isn’t McCain a conservative (Republican) and wasn’t he the Republican candidate for president in 2008. I Find it hard to believe people would vote for a Republican that supports assaults on free speech as written in the McMain-Feingold bill. Or is that just another double standard.

    Finally, I can’t find any quotes or documented proof “Russ is against the Keystone Pipeline”. Requiring and allowing U.S. law and protocols to run there course is not being against something.

    Just more rhetoric and finger wagging presented in the same old hypocritical fashion that disgusts even the most conservative of Republicans.

  7. scott

    As far as the first amendment goes, if the SCOTUS is going to stick with it’s current interpretation then it should be amended. Too much money in politics is surely one of the worst problems our country has. Feingold and McCain had the right impulse, if not the legal merit to make it stick. No doubt many here disagree. And you can shout “he’s against the Constitution!” all you want. But there’s a whole lot of folks like me who think deep pockets are helping themselves to an extra share of democracy and we don’t like it. I’ll go out on a limb and say probably a majority of Americans think so. Which of course doesn’t ipso facto make it true, but trying to suggest it’s radical is not gonna fly. It’s a very mainstream idea.

  8. Dan

    So Scott, you are 100% against Clinton, then, correct?

  9. richard lesiak

    So tell us what rojo has done. which is nothing. he voted against every bill that would help veterans, signed that stupid letter to Iran, rubber-stamped every stupid thing the gop has proposed. talking about Russ having money to run; give me a break. are you saying poor Johnson doesn’t have money. is he now the broke under-dog. a better topic to write about would be the wonderful results we are seeing in wisconsin from the tea-bagger conservatives who are now in power. it would be a very short article and very debatable. ROJONO ROJONO.

  10. Jadedly Unbiased

    This two party crap is getting old!

  11. scott

    Dan: I’m against a political system that over-serves the interests of the super wealthy. Any politician who has high aspirations in this country must play the game. You won’t see me laying it at the feet of any particular one–no matter what party. You will, however, see me praising any legislators who have the courage to stand up to it and propose changes to curtail it.

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