Thursday, September 29, 2016

Where Have Ye Gone, Tommy?

The first thing I heard when I flipped on the car radio this morning was Tommy Thompson, speaking/yelling in Waukesha last night, telling the crowd that it was time for everybody to get on the Trump Train.

A little bit of me died when I heard that audio clip.

I was worried when Tommy threw his support behind the Tea People several years ago.

The photo above, from the Madison newspaper Isthmus, shows Tommy at a Tea People rally in Madison a few years ago, the Tea Party flag flapping in the breeze behind him.

But hearing the audio clip of Tommy this morning made me abandon hope for Tommy.
When I moved from Los Angeles to Madison in the summer of 1988, Tommy was governor.

And he kept getting re-elected. History will show, I believe, that Tommy was the most popular state governor. Ever.

He built roads and bridges. Not just in Milwaukee and Madison, but all over the state. He tried to move people from welfare to work by giving them opportunities to get educated. He supported mass transit.

He surrounded himself with smart people – some of them, “libruls”. UW people. He supported the UW. He was a cheerleader for the UW, and many of our state’s other venerable institutions – and pro sports teams.

He sat down with people who did not share his political views and listened to them. Many times, he changed his mind – or modified his views.

He governed. He got things done.

When his party asked him to resign as Governor and go to Washington for a cabinet position with George Bush, he cried at his farewell party
People assume that I’m a Democrat, a liberal, or a progressive. I’m not. I used to say I’m a Tommy Thompson Republican; then I’d have to qualify it by explaining not the Tommy Thompson who jumped aboard the Tea Ship, or who ran against Tammy Baldwin for U.S. Senate, but the Tommy Thompson of the 90’s.

Now, I just say “I’m an independent”, and that’s the truth. Because Tommy has gone somewhere that I don’t understand, that I don’t like, and, I’m quite frankly, disgusted.


  1. It's indeed hard to fathom that Tommy, who practiced politics as the art of the possible so successfully for so long, who understood the need to build bridges and coalitions, could sign aboard a political movement that's the complete opposite. Trump never talks about "we," and what all of us can accomplish as citizens working together, but only about "I," and what he'll magically accomplish without us having to do a thing.

    The young Tommy who first ran for the Assembly 50 years ago this fall wouldn't recognize his future self.

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