I am, frankly, baffled that polling still shows the race between Russ Feingold and Ron Johnson to be as close as it is. But then, I don't generally put a lot of stock into poll numbers (unless they're from FiveThirtyEight, but even they're not infallible).
Still, it's baffling to me that anyone would look at Feingold on the one hand and Johnson on the other and say to themselves, "You know, I'm tired of having a senator who routinely puts his neck on the line for regular citizens, doesn't take pay raises, isn't a multi-millionaire, has good political experience, and doesn't always toe the party line."
That's just weird.
Whereas Feingold actually takes the time to listen to his constituents and is quite clear on where he stands on the issues, Johnson mostly seems intent on pleading the fifth. A section of a recent interview Johnson gave to Politico sums up that strategy pretty well:
When asked where he parts with Republican orthodoxy, Johnson immediately cited spending, criticizing his party for running up deficits and declining to offer an assessment of President Bush's two terms in office.
"I'll say just no opinion," he replied when asked about Bush's tenure as president. "He has his pluses and minuses."
Way to have an opinion there, bub. But Johnson, taking a cue from sexually adventurous co-eds everywhere, is "really not into labels," including, it would seem, the kinds of labels that might let the public know where he actually stands on the important social and political issues that affect their lives.
Even the Tea Party movement, which Johnson initially rode to fame, has proved too much of a mental minefield for the wealthy candidate. At a question and answer session with the Rock River Patriots last month, he played a lot of the neo-con Greatest Hits anti-UN, climate change denial, anti-IRS, etc. but fell short on questions regarding taxes, the Second Amendment, and the national Real ID mandate.
His excuse? Johnson "explained he is not a scholar of the Constitution, adding that it 'is not an easy document' and is 'hard to study unless you do it in detail.'"
Call me crazy but I'd actually like our elected representatives to take an active interest in studying the Constitution so they can, y'know, better understand and follow it when in office. It's a small thing, really. And it doesn't even mean I'm always going to agree with their interpretation of said document but at least I'll know they're trying.
In the end, the Q&A was enough to apparently make Johnson drop out of a few other Tea Party vetting sessions he'd been scheduled for. It's not a good sign when you can't face the very people on whose shoulders you stood to get to your current position.
All guts, no glory
The Wisconsin State Journal recently ran an interesting piece on the candidates for governor that no one's heard of nearly two dozen of them.
I'm glad to see these folks getting any mainstream coverage at all, frankly. Even if a person is a long shot, provided they're not complete joke candidates, I believe the depth of their pockets shouldn't have anything to do with whether or not the press ignores them. I'm not saying they deserve buckets of ink, but they also don't deserve a complete blackout.
If nothing else, independent, third-party, and even lesser known candidates for the major party nominations help bring up important issues that maybe the main contenders wouldn't otherwise address. They diversify the debate and bring new and different ideas to the voting public. Having more than the usual two people running for office would be a breath of fresh air, frankly even if we're not likely to see viable third-party runners until campaign financing rules are truly reformed.
None of this is to say that there are no good party-backed politicians (Feingold and Tom Barrett immediately come to mind, for instance, as examples of where the Democrats got it right). But anyone truly confident in their ability to lead and willingness to hear multiple sides of a story would support a more open (and less expensive) field of contenders.
The Madison internet has been buzzing loudly over the announcement of a potential bicycle-only cafe on the Southwest Commuter Trail. It's not a done deal yet, but man does it look like it would be cool.
Those who believe booze and bare breasts shouldn't mix have another case argument on their side as some chucklehead got drunk at Visions the other night, up-chucked in the VIP section, got kicked out, and promptly drove his SUV into the building before careening off down E. Washington. Frankly, I think this is more an instance of someone being a monumental idiot all on their own and we should probably leave innocent body parts out of it.
And finally, you might be surprised at the lack of electronic cigarette discussion in this post but fret not! I'm just taking a short break to do further research and conduct a few interviews before jumping right back into the vaporized saddle. Excitement!