The Fuss About Russ

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I’m scratching my head over this Michael Crowley piece on Russ Feingold’s potential as a 2008 Democratic presidential candidate. After laying out a case for why the Wisconsin Senator gets pretty good ratings in, um, Daily Kos polls—turns out the answer is (surprise!) that he supports a fixed exit date to get out of Iraq—Crowley drops this ominous phrase:

But much of what these bloggers know about him is based on his votes on Iraq and the Patriot Act. The rest of his career might surprise them.

Oh no! Do tell us more. What Dairy State secrets lie obscured under the milky waters of Lake Minnetonka? Prince-like puffy-shirts? Cannibalism? A poor golf game? No, the biggest fault Crowley can find is that his colleagues in the Senate just don’t like him. As it turns out, when you push for campaign finance reform, forbid your staffers to take trade association freebies, argue against raising congressional salaries, and worry about your party’s slide to economic conservatism, well, you just end up making everyone else look bad.

Correct me if I’m wrong, that’s exactly the sort of thing that Democratic primary voters—and bloggers—eat up, especially as more and more Dems are calling for the party to take a clear stance against “business as usual” and corruption in Congress. Those stances are his bread and butter. (You may remember a little something called McCain-Feingold, perhaps the most famous senatorial hyphenate of the past decade.)

The only other two objections are pretty silly too. Crowley fears that an opponent might cut and add pointing out that Feingold was among the more post-Monica impeachment-friendly Senators. But I can’t imagine any other candidate, come Winter ’07, thinking it would be a good idea to refight that decade-old battle. Finally he worries that Feingold’s rather consistent stand on deferring to the President’s prerogative in Senate confirmations will be a liability. Maybe—but that’s precious little to hang 4,000 words on.

Correction: My bad. Lake Minnetonka is one of the thousand un-milky lakes in Minnesota. The mistake stems from thinking Prince hails from Milwaukee.


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