Saturday, August 19, 2006



Nationally speaking, southwest Ohio's congresswoman Mean Jean Schmidt had her moment in the spotlight in November of 2005 when her obscurity came to an end as she lurched into a shocking and psychotic rant on the House floor, accusing respected and decorated war hero Jack Murtha of being a traitor and coward. Embarrassed, the GOP leadership made her take a time-out. In the aftermath she cemented her place into the Republican Extremist Hall of Shame and she wound up forever on our Schmidt List. But in OH-02 it isn't about a "moment in the national spotlight." They've been stuck with this embarrassment full time. Christy asked me to look into her opponent in the upcoming election and see if there is enough there to make it worthwhile for us to get involved.

I knew absolutely nothing about Victoria Wulsin. And now I can tell you she is positively one of my favorite candidates running for Congress from any district. Her story is breathtaking and her prescriptions for what's ailing America are exemplary but I want to start someplace else entirely. When I've mentioned Doctor Wulsin to other people who know her-- people in the district, Howard Dean, Sherrod Brown-- they beam with enthusiasm. It goes beyond the realm of "good candidate" and into the realm of "terrific person." After interviewing Vic about how to approach America's looming health care catastrophe-- and being completely wowed by the depth of her knowledge and her passion on the subject-- I threw her a curveball. I asked her if she has a favorite musician. Did she ever! She went from talking about Brahms' Fourth Symphony and Beethoven's Seventh to quoting Bonnie Raitt, the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and Bruce Springsteen. And then she sang "The Times They Are A Changin'!" And she actually sang it well. "Dylan spoke for my generation," she told me. Mine too. I felt a real connection with her beyond agreeing that Jack Murtha had a far better solution to the disaster in Iraq than Mean Jean Schmidt.

"People might get the idea that I'm just an academic-- a doctor and a professor-- but my passions extend beyond helping out in the public realm. I love to play games with my kids and their friends. I love to go camping with my family. I'm a wife and a mom." And she's a mensch.

And how about this? Vic was a housemate of Ned Lamont's at Harvard when they were college students. Her boyfriend was Ned's roommate! The day after I spoke with her she was having breakfast with Jesse Jackson and after that Howard Dean was coming over to her house for lunch. A day or two earlier she had driven to Adams County with Paul Hackett and some of her volunteers to help an injured iron-worker and his family re-build their storm-damaged home.

Victoria Wulsin is a strong and intelligent woman with a common sense progressive approach. I liked her approach and her completely mainstream, all-American positions on every single issue facing the country. But as a doctor and a very experienced public health expert, her views on health care are more than tangential to her campaign-- and to the reasons why it is important for all of us to do what we can to help elect her. After doing her undergrad honors thesis on the British Healthcare Service, living in London, she spent many years in East Africa working for the Red Cross and for USAID and as the regional advisor for Aids and child survival in Kenya. For me, if you want to solve the situation in Iraq, you look for an expert like Jack Murtha or Wes Clark, not to chickenhawks like Bush and Cheney and that catastrophic crew. And if you want to start the process of solving the healthcare crisis in America-- how about people like Dr. Howard Dean and Dr. Victoria Wulsin instead of botton-line-only-motivated-corporations and the pols they buy? "Helping to rebuild the health infrastructure in Rwanda," she told me, "gives me an experience of getting results working with diverse factions and being able to stay focused on what's best, not only for the people, but for future generations. One of the weaknesses of our government has been the failure to look forward into the future. Are they even contemplating Global Warming? Budget deficits? The consequences of the occupation of Iraq? Bush and his cronies had two goals. One was to topple Saddam Hussein and the other had to do with getting control of the business opportunities in Iraq. His 'vision' is very short-sighted."

A major part of how Vic looks at herself is as a parent. "I'm not working just for today. I'm thinking about the future of our children. Biologically I have 4 kids; my organization takes care of 8,000 orphans in Africa. I'm running for Congress for America's 55 million children."

Can Vic win? It's a tough district. And we all know what Paul Hackett accomplished there last year. He came close in a special election. He's a friend and neighbor of Vic's and on her advisory committee. And this year is building in a strong Democratic sweep in Ohio, from top to bottom. Ted Strickland, the Democratic candidate for governor is wiping the floor with Ohio's arch-criminal Secretary of State, Ken Blackwell and our own Blue America Senate candidate, Sherrod Brown has a solid lead over rubber stamp Republicrook Mike DeWine. Yesterday's Washington Post reported that the GOP has already lost Ohio's "security moms," married women with children. Still OH-02 is a rough district. Bush got 64% of the vote against Kerry. Bit now Bush's approval rating in the district is down to 41%. That's good news. But there's better: Mean Jean Schmidt's approval rating is 33%. "People here want change," Vic told me. "They're ready for government to be pro-people."

If you're ready for our government to be pro-people too, there are several ways to help Vic Wulsin move it in that direction. The campaign needs volunteers and you can sign up here. And, of course, the campaign needs cash. Mean Jean Schmidt can get all she needs from the Big Corporations who's puppet she has been in DC. Vic needs to depend on those whose interests she will be fighting for: ours. Please consider our Blue America Act Blue Page. And, as a little incentive, the first 25 contributors will get a rare Bob Dylan CD that has never been sold to the general public: LOVESICK, a 9-song promo that Sony did for Victoria's Secret. This afternoon (Saturday, 2 PM EST), Blue America is hosting a live chat with Dr. Wulsin at Firedoglake. You're invited.


Republicans are not just afraid to enlist in the military, they're also afraid to debate. Vic challenged Mean Jean Schmidt to debate in each of the 7 counties of OH-02 so that all the voters would have a chance to see the two of them in action. Mean Jean, whose record might be warmly received in Board rooms of Big Oil and Big Pharma and Big Banks, is desperate to hide it from the public. So he's passing on the opportunity to get all close and personal with her constituents.


At 1:41 PM, Blogger Timcanhear said...

When I first met Victoria Wulsin I was immediately taken in by her sincerity. Ya'll come to Ohio and help out and I'll buy the beers for the afterparty.


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