Feingold’s Limits

With the announcement by Russ Feingold that he will pry the plywood off the windows of his house in Middleton, dust off his chaise, and run in a rematch for U.S. Senate against Senator Ron Johnson, one can’t help but wonder if he’s spent the past five years going through the shakes.

Feingold is the prototypical career politician, addicted to the soirees, social circles, and power that comes with being in the most austere deliberative body in the world. He has 28 years of experience in politics, including a decade representing the state’s 27th State Senate district and 18 years in the U.S Senate, and a post-retirement juggling a career in the Obama State Department, stewarding a progressive political action committee, and teaching at the House of the Everyman – Stanford.

Feingold just can’t seem to let go.

Interestingly, in that role as “Special Envoy” to the Great Lakes Region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Feingold gave speeches with the intention of helping the region’s failed states bolster their democracies against rampant corruption.

Just this February, Feingold proclaimed at his farewell address, where he was departing the make-work job he had at State:

These countries and their leadership can signal to their citizens, the region, and the world, their commitment to the future of their countries and the value they place on the electoral process. By adhering to their constitutions, including constitutional provisions regarding term limits.

He also said:

As a friend and ally of Burundi the U.S. is urging the Burundian government to ensure that the upcoming elections are in accordance with the Arusha Accords, which state unambiguously that no president will serve more than two terms.  It is our belief that upholding Arusha including its provision on term limits is key to maintaining a still fragile stability in the near term.

Feingold supports the principle behind term limits – that corruption is born in politicians who serve so long that their interests become indistinguishable from those who line up seeking their favor. As someone who has spent most of his life as a political insider, how can Russ Feingold credibly speak in favor of term limits?

His rhetoric is hypocritical and stands at great odds against his resume – particularly after he procured himself a job from the Hillary/Obama State Department that probably didn’t exist before he took it and likely doesn’t exist now that he’s gone.

If Feingold were to run for the U.S.  Senate in 2016 and win, he would have served 36 years in government at the completion of that term. In 2010 the voters in Wisconsin imposed a default term limit on Feingold by voting him out of office for his support of miserable policies like Obamacare and the “stimulus” package that flushed $830 billion down a golden toilet in Washington. Then there’s the big kahuna of losers, campaign finance reform, which set the stage for all the “dark money” Feingold’s Progressives United PAC now peddles.

None of those policies look better as they recede in the rear view mirror.

Perhaps those are examples of what happens when a pol stays in office too long – like the corrupt warlords of the Great Lakes Region of Africa, they sell out their democracies to insurance companies, public sector unions, and bigwig PAC donors.

So where exactly does Feingold stand on term limits?  What term limits would he impose on himself? Does he think Wisconsin term limited him into retirement, or does he think that we rubes who fail to see the wisdom of his terribly failed agenda just made a big mistake?

Related: Succession in Wisconsin Podcast

About the writer: Chris Rochester is editor in chief of Morning Martini. He’s an armchair politico, veteran of several campaigns, and communications specialist. He's the communications director for the MacIver Institute. Commentary here is strictly his own.
  • AnonyBob

    Chris, your attacks on Feingold are simply distraction from how weak his opponent is. Agree or disagree with Feingold as a “career politician,” I’ll pick him any day over the incumbent who shows no understanding of, or enthusiasm for, being a representative of the people and his state. Feingold held listening sessions every year in every county. Every time I read about RoJo announcing “staff hours” my skin crawls. Watta putz.