Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tommy Thompson... Serial Apologist


Tommy Thompson, who's running for the open Wisconsin Senate seat, will have just passed his 71st birthday on election day-- if he gets through a cutthroat primary of extreme right wing zealots also looking for that career step. He's leading the GOP field-- although is the third choice among Tea Party Republicans-- primarily because Wisconsin Republicans remember him as their 4-term governor (1987-2001)... and for his role in creating the BadgerCare health system, anathema to modern-day Republicans of the Paul Ryan school of Law of the Jungle Republicans. Running against the pack of extremists-- who are packed by shady, big money, far right groups-- Thompson has been pushed uncomfortably to the right, much the way Romney was pushed ever rightward-- and is now unacceptable to mainstream Americans-- by Gingrich, Bachmann, Perry, Santorum, Cain, et al. Lately Thompson has taken to blasting President Obama for apologizing on behalf of the United States for the inadvertent burning of a Koran in Afghanistan by the American government.

As our friends at American Bridge pointed out to us, Thompson knows a lot about apologizing. Last time he ran for office-- president, I think-- he was forced to apologize for offensive comments to both Jews and the LGBT community. The President was fulfilling his duty as chief executive of the U.S. government in a diplomatic capacity. What was Tommy's excuse?

A faulty hearing aid, a cold, fatigue, a leaky bladder... anything but pandering to the nuts in his own party.

His Jewish problem stems from a 2007 series of clumsy boo-boos that offended Jewish leaders. He said making money is “part of the Jewish tradition,” called Israel Bonds “Jewish Bonds” and the Anti-Defamation League the “Jewish Defense League” at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism’s biennial Consultation on Conscience.
Ironically, though, it was one speaker’s botched joke about the stereotypical lack of poverty among Jews that ended up drawing a great deal of attention. Republican presidential candidate Tommy Thompson began his speech by saying that after 38 years in government, the former Wisconsin governor was for the first time in the private sector and earning money. That, he said, is ‘sort of part of the Jewish tradition, and I do not find anything wrong with that. I enjoy that.’ Once Thompson finished his half-hour talk, RAC director Rabbi David Saperstein alerted him to the crowd’s murmurings. Returning to the podium, the former Secretary of Health and Human Services said he didn’t "want to infer or imply anything about Jews and finances." He said, rather, that he was referring to "the accomplishments of the Jewish religion and the Jewish people. You have been outstanding business people and I compliment you for that and if anybody took what I said wrong, I apologize. I may have mischaracterized it. You are very successful. I applaud you for that."

He seemed bent out of shape when reporters questioned him about this later.
"I was tired, I made a mistake and I apologized," Thompson told a group of Politico reporters and editors in an interview.

"Have you ever made a mistake?," a testy Thompson demanded of this reporter.

Right around the same time, he was onto insulting gays and lesbians with his conservative stereotypes, claiming in a debate that employers who didn't like gays should be allowed to fire them without cause. That's patently illegal. As you can see in the video up top, he said it was because of a faulty hearing aid. The Associated Press also reported it was because he had to go pee-pee.
Tommy Thompson cited a dead hearing aid and an urgent need to use the bathroom in explaining on Saturday why he said at a GOP presidential debate that an employer should be allowed to fire a gay worker. Speaking to reporters after giving an address at the state GOP convention, Thompson also said he was suffering from the flu and bronchitis and had been admitted to a hospital emergency room three days prior to the May 3 debate. "Nobody knows that," Thompson said. "I’ve been very sick... I was very sick the day of the debate. I had all of the problems with the flu and bronchitis that you have, including running to the bathroom. I was just hanging on. I could not wait until the debate got off so I could go to the bathroom."

He also said he's deaf in one ear and the hearing aid in the other ear went dead. What a mess-- just like his campaign. He soon withdrew... without a ripple. So now he wants to run for the Senate seat left open by retiring Democrat Herb Kohl. Kohl immediately endorsed Rep. Tammy Baldwin, who-- if she wins in November-- will be the first woman to hold a Senate seat from Wisconsin and the first openly gay person ever elected to the U.S. Senate from anywhere. If you'd like to make sure it's Tammy who holds that seat-- and not lumbering old Tommy Thompson, you can contribute to her campaign at the Blue America ActBlue page here.

Here's the ad the far right Club For Growth Is currently running in Wisconsin:

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