Thursday, August 20, 2009

Is It Tommy Time Again?

Stick it to ‘em! What a better way to do it!! Memorable words from Tommy Thompson, whipping up a crowd in northern Wisconsin a few years back, trying to get them to buy into his idea to build a new baseball stadium in Milwaukee, paid for in part by taxing the folks in the Milwaukee metro area.

In his enthusiasm, Tommy apparently forgot that in this day and age, just about anything you say in public is going to wind up on the news, and there was a brief flap about it, mainly from talk show hosts.

Our state’s longest-serving governor got his baseball stadium, Miller Park, and got Lambeau Field renovated, and built and improved an awful lot of highways through his Corridors 2020 plan, set in motion years ago. Anybody who’s ever driven from Madison to the Fox Cities or from Madison to Dubuque can thank Tommy for turning once-treacherous 2-lane roads into 4-lane expressways.

Where eagles soar and Harleys roar. That was another one of Tommy’s great lines about the state he unabashedly loves. He loved to get on that Harley and ride, either around the square or around the state.

Say what you want about Tommy, he was a leader. The only reason he’s not still governor is because he tearfully answered George Bush’s call to be a member of his cabinet, based on Tommy‘s dramatic reform of the state‘s welfare system, which he called “Wisconsin Works“. Tommy staked out bold initiatives, admittedly in much better times financially, and knew how to twist enough arms in the legislature to get things done.

With Jim Doyle not running again, the race is wide open. Some of the usual suspects from both parties have announced they’re running or thinking about running. Some are “Madison” players that don’t have much statewide exposure, and some are fairly well-known veterans.

What we need now is a leader. Not a manager, but a leader. There’s a difference. Managers keep things running, smooth out the bumps, and pay attention to the details. Leaders have a vision, are good at explaining it, and are often bored with the details. But leaders move things forward.

Jim Doyle’s been a manager. In his next year and a half, perhaps he can accomplish a few more things, like maybe working on a new system to reform the way education is financed in our state. But we need a man or woman with a bold vision for our future, who can beat back the dweebs in the state legislature by stating that vision clearly to the people and getting a mandate for action.

It’s time to elect somebody who can stick it to us, I guess.

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