Friday, August 19, 2011

Rusty's Out; Tommy's....In?

So, Tommy Thompson (D…ah, I mean R, Elroy) has rounded up the usual suspect (Jim Klauser) and is making serious noises about running for US Senate.  Gee, what a shock.  Tommy, talking about running for something.  And Russ Feingold says he’ll run for NOTHING in 2012.

The blogosphere is taking Tommy’s threat seriously, swearing that he really means it this time and will officially announce just after Labor Day.

Problem is….which party will have him?  Tommy is a political dinosaur now, still thinking he’s a Republican.  If ever there were a RINO (Republican In Name Only), it’s Tommy T.

Full disclosure: I like Tommy.  He was kind enough several times while Governor to be “guest editor” on the old “Madison’s Morning News” radio program my wife and I hosted during the Thompson years.  He’d sit with us the full three hours of the show, and tell stories and take phone calls (even from lots of those "Dane County Liberals"!) and generally have a good time.

Tommy represents to me – and maybe this is just my age – the “real” Wisconsin spirit.  Work together to find solutions to problems.  Argue your point vigorously; take a vote; and whether you won or lost, have a brew or two at the Avenue Bar with the pols who voted with you and those who voted against you.

Welfare’s a problem?  Don’t throw it out; don’t blame the poor; fix it.  Same with health care: expand the program, don’t cut it to death.  Brewers need a new stadium?  Tax those bastards in Milwaukee..”what a better way to do it…stick it to ‘em!!!”…and gitt’r done.  Amtrack?  Hell yes.  Put me on the board.  Love my Harley, but love my mass transit, too.   Stem cells?  Hell yes, let’s see if we can’t get a bunch more money from Warshington to throw at the UW.   And, while you’re in office, why not essentially double the size of government in Wisconsin.

See what I’m getting at?  Tommy’s actions make him, by any definition, a Democrat: raise taxes, expand welfare and health care, support and expand stem cell research, increase the size of government.

Nobody seems sure how to deal with this.  Miss Vicki yesterday afternoon referred to Tommy as an “old guard Republican”.  Didn’t call him a RINO, because we’re in uncharted waters here.  We’ve got a guy who was the most popular governor in decades, who essentially had the job for life, whose name recognition is gold from Hilbert to Howard to Hayward to Hales Corners, who finds himself a member of a party that now stands directly opposed to everything Tommy did while in office.

This oughtta be REAL interesting……


  1. Thompson did a couple of very good things: school choice was one (and it was the beginning of the end of WEAC hegemony--which end is very nigh, indeed.)

    And welfare-reform was a good idea (although devising audits would have been REALLY nice.)

    And yes: he is congenial, knows how to win (and lose) gracefully; qualities to be admired.

    But as you mentioned, he also has some real klinker-ideas, and didn't mind passing the costs to 3,4,5 generations downstream.

    That is what has changed. The Boomers have grandchildren (except for you, laggard), and we're thinking about them.