Saturday, April 22, 2006

LUNCH WITH RUSS FEINGOLD

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It was kind of last minute and ad hoc but today Russ Feingold invited half a dozen L.A. bloggers to come meet him at a restaurant and have lunch and ask him any questions on our minds. I know Russ' policy positions already and I've already given him a big thumbs up and even opened an ACT BLUE Page for his Progressive Patriots political action committee. So what I was looking for was a sense of the man. I got it.

He seemed sincere, committed, open-minded on the one hand while passionate about what he believes in most on the other. He didn't use any Beltway jargon; he seemed like a real straight shooter (unlike his pal McCain).

If you're a DWT regular, you are no doubt aware of how strongly I feel about the careerist politicians in the Democratic Inside-the-Beltway Establishment. If you're new to DWT I will just say that people like Rahm Emanuel and Chuck Schumer seem like only a step or two ahead of Tom DeLay and Bill Frist on the evolutionary scale and almost as advanced as a duck-billed platypus. I didn't think Feingold would fit into that mold and I was relieved to see that he didn't. Not at all. In fact, he mentioned, when questioned about how Schumer and Emanuel conspired to destroy Paul Hackett's senatorial run in Ohio, that he took a meeting with Hackett and wrote him a substantial check to help him retire his campaign debt. Feingold seemed genuinely unhappy about how that whole mess came down and how it would reflect on a political party that is supposed to be different from the weak, ethicless, treacherous Republicans.

It was interesting that he thinks the crimes committed by Bush probably rise to the level of being "impeachable," but that he feels that the responsible thing to do at this point is to foster the idea of accountability through his very moderate censure resolution. And although he mentioned that several senators-- above and beyond public supporters like Harkin, Boxer and Kerry-- have told him privately that they would support him, it looks like a long, hard slog before this is going to get through the Senate. Long, hard slogs don't scare Russ Feingold and never have.

"This administration," he told us, "doesn't know how to govern the country. But they are brilliant at intimidating Democrats." Obviously, they don't intimidate him at all. He speaks his mind because he believes in his core values and principles. Voters sense that. When Kerry, whose public perception was wishy-washy and someone with a weak value-system, squeaked by to a 10,000 vote victory in Wisconsin, Feingold's far more progressive and outspoken positions garnered him a 300,000 vote victory, despite an avalanche of right-wing money pouring into the unfathomably filthy campaign against him. But it wasn't really about the policy positions per se. It was about the man and how he makes decisions and what he's made of.

I walked into today's meeting admiring Russ Feingold. I walked out feeling even more strongly that this is a real leader that the Democratic Party is lucky to have-- someone who isn't Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton, let alone Joe Lieberman. He may not be as glib and showy, but he's what a lot of us were once hoping Barack Obama would turn out to be.


MONDAY MORNING UPDATE: OTHER VIEWS

A couple of fellow-bloggers who also met with Feingold Saturday, Brad Friedman from BradBlog, Pam and Steve from SteveAudio and R.J. Eskow over at Huff Po have posted their perspectives on our meeting. Take a look.

15 Comments:

At 7:01 PM, Blogger scud said...

I'm glad you enjoyed your lunch. Personally, I would have lost mine. Feingold makes me sick. But, hey, to each his own. Maybe Russ can make you propaganda minister in his imaginary socialist utopia. That's as close as he'll ever get to power. Good luck!

Nice Blog.

 
At 7:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great reading, must have been a pleasure to have met Sen.Feingold and to hear his ideas.He has my admiration and am glad he cares about the people..Have been a Democrat all my life, and he certainly seems like an Honorable Man...Just hope that All the Democrats can wake up & smell the Coffee.

 
At 7:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Feingold for President 08, go,go,go,& win this for all these Democrats that deserve a great man who works for the people and will bring back honesty in the W.H.

 
At 11:50 PM, Anonymous teach said...

Now, I am jealous Howie. I like Russ Feingold, and it would be refreshing to think that Americans could elect a man for the office of president who is NOT a phoney.

I will certainly keep my eye on him.

We practically need a clean sweep in Washington to rid ourselves of the taint of corporatism and power politics.

Keep us in the loop.

 
At 12:22 AM, Anonymous reid fan @ dkos said...

Why do you look so scared? LOL! Anyway congrats on the experience I'm sure it was AMAZING!

 
At 7:10 AM, Blogger Comandante Agí said...

Feingold is the only Democrat I'd vote for president. Sounds like you had a good time, Howie.

 
At 10:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Howie; I had a computer breakdown and am just now getting back in the swing; how glad I was to find a pic of you with Russ Feingold. Both of you looking good, and what my heart senses is a common caring for people. All people, any people. thank you for all you do.

 
At 10:22 AM, Blogger SteveAudio said...

I agree with your reporting of our meeting with the Senator. Pam & I also came away feeling more impressed with Feingold.

Good to see you today!

 
At 7:03 PM, Blogger Gratis said...

Great post! Feingold is my hero (after Paul Hackett *sob*) and I'm completely jealous that you got to meet him.

Hopefully, though, he is being shy about full blown impeachment until he sees what happens in Nov. I'm certainly keeping my fingers crossed.

 
At 1:55 AM, Blogger lukery said...

i interviewed larisa alexandrovna of rawstory recently and she said :" Look - if you're already at the top, chances are you're already either owned by something or somebody – as the Hastert allegations show - or you're not buyable - as in Feingold's case. You're just not for sale - so they just leave you alone."

nice work DWT

 
At 4:34 AM, Blogger cybermome said...

Howie,

I am Jewish,50th ish and female. I live in a suburb of Philadelphia. I cannot stand the idea of Hillary Clinton for Pres. If the belt way types try to shove another "electable" candidate like Clinton or MR MBNA Biden, I say...

Lets raise $$$$ and run Russ as a 3rd party

Russ Feingold 2008

 
At 10:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone know how I can get a copy of the so called "Dartmouth Plan" signed by a Publius that's going around? I hear it offers some very compelling strategic recommendations concerning a progressive approach to national security policy and information/media. I've seen it mentioned on Washingtonnote and a few other places. Justin

 
At 11:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm... while Feingold was busy courting a handful of bloggers over lunch Saturday, Kerry made a serious bid with the anti-war movement - http://blog.thedemocraticdaily.com/?p=2723

Ain't nothing wishy washy about what he was saying on Saturday and has been so noted by the MSM. Too bad the liberal blogosphere missed it!

 
At 8:11 PM, Blogger skippy said...

wow, i'm really sorry i couldn't make it!

 
At 12:01 PM, Blogger Scott said...

Nice to hear your report about him. I feel much better now. Is he going to run for the big one?

 

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