Saturday, January 1, 2011

Goodbye and thank you...

There are some politicians the voters are not sending back to Washington and I for one will miss some of them.  We can’t let them go without saying good-bye and thank you.  Maybe we’ll hear from them again.  In a few cases, I certainly hope so.
First, on our list is Russ Feingold (D, WI), who was defeated by a Wisconsin businessman, after serving for 18 years in the United States Senate.  What a lost to the Senate and to the country.  If there was a liberal cause that needed support, one was certain that Russ’s voice would be raised, but at the same time, his was also an independent voice.  Let’s remember that Feingold's was the single vote cast against the Patriot Act that was shoved through Congress shortly after the 9/11 attack.  (According to TPM, Feingold has carefully explained to his constituents that he was the only Senator to vote against the Patriot Act because he was the only Senator who had read the entire bill.)
Feingold also teamed with John McCain--the John McCain who existed when he still thought of himself as a maverick--to write a campaign finance reform bill.  Feingold and McCain were on the right track but all their good intentions were waylaid by a pro-business Supreme Court decision in Citizen United v. FEC.
We bid farewell with a large slice of gratitude to Russ Feingold.
We also say good-bye to Arlen Specter who has had a long career, starting as a Democratic assistant counsel for the Warren Commission in the mid-sixties.  He became a Republican District Attorney in Philadelphia and then a Republican Senator in 1980.  He switched parties in 2009 when his Senate poll numbers started tanking.  He then lost the Democratic primary this year to Joe Sestak, who subsequently lost the final election to Pat Toomey.  
We’re sorry to see any moderate Republican-turned-Democrat leave the Senate, but we must bid a grateful good-bye to Arlen Specter who has had a distinguished career in public life.
We are certainly going to miss Alan Grayson (D, FL).  He won election in 2008 on Obama’s coattails in a conservative district in Orlando.  The GOP mounted a huge and, unfortunately, successful effort to defeat Grayson in his re-election effort this past November.  We certainly are going to miss Grayson’s intelligence and wonderful political satire.  Remember his description of the Republican health plan which was never to get sick but, if you do, die quickly?  And what about his description of Republicans as “knuckle-dragging Neanderthals?”
We also say good-bye to retiring Dave Obey (D-WI) who had served in the House for 41 years and who became the Chair of the House Appropriations Committee.  Wisconsin is certainly losing two strong liberal voices--and so are we.
We are also saying good-bye to the last member of the Kennedy family who currently holds national elected office.  Rep. Pat Kennedy of Rhode Island is going home after 16 years.  TPM reports that the major reason for his retirement was the death of his father.  Let us hope that soon someone from that family will pick up and relight the family torch.
We shall also miss Ted Kaufman (D, DE).  Kaufman, a long-time Biden aide, has held Biden’s seat for two years, but Kaufman did more than simply keep the seat warm.  What an intelligent and strong voice he had, particularly for financial reform.  We are very sorry he won’t be back.  The Democrats need all the strong, intelligent voices they can get.
We should also note that Lisa Murkowski has finally been certified in her re-election struggle.  Challenger Joe Miller, of course, has still not called her to congratulate her and to wish her well. [Here]    
“And so it goes...” 

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