November 12, 2006

"I'm sure a campaign for president would have been a great adventure and helpful in advancing a progressive agenda."

Russ Feingold won't run! What's the story there?

UPDATE: Much more here:
"I began with the feeling I didn't really want to do this but was open to the possibility that getting around the country would make me want to do it. That never happened," he said.

"People have always portrayed me as ambitious. I'm not ashamed of that.

"But I have never had a craving to be president of the United States. I used to say it when I was 5 or 7 years old. But I haven't really been saying it as an adult," said Feingold, who said he didn't rule out running in the future.

Feingold's thinking about the race crystallized in the last few weeks, he said. The Democratic takeover of Congress on Tuesday was a final factor because it added to the appeal of focusing entirely on his position in the Senate, he said....

"This may sound immodest, but I thought, 'I can do this. I can be the candidate, that rational, effective, presentable candidate for Democrats that would not be threatening, yet very progressive,' " Feingold said.

Feingold said he was not concerned about the personal scrutiny that comes with a presidential candidacy.

"I've been through three U.S. Senate campaigns. The people I've run against have not been pansies," said Feingold, referring to the aggressiveness of his opponents. "I feel like my life is an open book."
(Pansies! Are we still talking like that? I thought, post-Macaca, no politician would ever use a slur word again.)

Anyway, I still want to hear the real story. Something to do with his position within the Senate?


Joseph Hovsep said...

He probably realized there was no way he'd win the nomination, let alone the election.

I'm surprised by people who go through the trouble and expense of running a presidential campaign when they certainly know they're not going to win but have some agenda they want publicized.

Anonymous said...

In political terms, we are coming to the middle point of the "Money primary". Warner dropped out too because his fundraising cannot match Sen. Clinton's with her husbands rolodex. The money primary continues until the last fiscal quarter before New Hampshire and Iowa.

Ben said...

Not much in that NY Times story.
More in today's Journal Sentinel:

Meade said...

A better year for him to consider a run for president would be 2016 when his next term as senator will be ending, his personal life will be more settled, and we will all have a better historical perspective on authorizing the use of military force in Iraq. It might also give him the time needed to help lead his party back from the ledge of suicide by leftism.

Zeb Quinn said...

As for the notion that he didn't think he could win, individual members of the political class are almost always ego-maniacal enough to believe they can win whenever they run for anything. That's part of their fundamental makeup. So that can't be it.

It could be the money, and the practical realization of how much it would cost and of his inability to raise the needed amounts.

One thing is for certain. There is a reason. There's always a specific and discrete reason behind it when a pol backs out of a race he's flirted with running in for an office he covets.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Now that the democrats set the agenda in Congress, he's at the top of his senatorial game. Perhaps he is, at heart, a legislator, not an executive.

Joe Baby said...

He just might be too sane to want the job.

Either that, or Hillary got to him. ;-)

Joe said...

Democrats always get a pass on slur words.

Wade_Garrett said...

Pansy: "someone very pathetic and wimpy, generally used as an insult against both sexes."


John(classic) said...

Decades ago when I clerked for a District Judge we had a trial to the court of two defendants who had run a banking scam.

My judge in his remarks said that "As far as he was concerned, they were just a pair of Ponzis whom time had caught up with". Stretch, the court reporter, had never heard of Ponzi, and recorded it as "pair of pansies".

On appeal the argument was all over whether the judge had been prejudiced. We did not learn about that until the appeal had been heard.

I learned all about the minutiae of civil procedure, mistakes in the record, and trial/appellate jurisdiction.

Then there was the misunderstanding about "Zulu time" by the 4th Circuit in an admiralty case....

Internet Ronin said...

Hey! Wait a minute! Whats wrong with a pansy? Pansies are wonderful flowers and they last through the winter.

Cedarford said...

Pansies was one of those "forbidden" words the cult of victimhood demanded be banned from the lexion, so high was their victimhood and moral authority.

Funny thing happened. Just like "nigger" was reclaimed and made ubiquitous in black communities and culture - much to the horror of old blacks that thought laws and codes would suffice to abandon what they mandated be changed to - at worse - the "N" word...gays have reclaimed "their words".

Queer, faggot, fruit, Nancy Boy and a dozen others are informally used.

I imagine if multimillionaire rappers use "nigger" for sales and marketing clout, and Denzel gets an Oscar for saying it 2 dozen times....Pansy could once again be elevated. I mean if Arnold can pull off "girlie-men"....

For all we know, pansy is the new chic.

With the elevation of Pelosi and the expected horde of simpering male brown-nosers hovering around her every gesture and word -- perhaps "Nancy Boys" will be irresistable.
I discount the fundraising rationale. The Dems are committed to their loopy debates where Sharpton and Kucinich and other bottom feeders get an entree regardless of being jokes with no funds. Feingold could have taken the same low-budget path and gotten a shot at "respectable" showings.

Christy said...

Didn't the TV show JAG always use Zulu incorrectly as local time?

Am I the only one who immediately jumps to the conclusion that these guys are dropping out when their internal investigators turn up problems fatal to presidential aspirations?

Internet Ronin said...

Truth be told, I am quite surprised that Russ Feingold said what he did. It doesn't really bother me, but it definitely raised an eyebrow (or two).

Dave said...

Feingold might have done ok. He would have been the darling of the loony left and that's fertile ground in Democratic primaries.

Joe Biden was clearly taken aback this morning when George Stephanopoulos told him Feingold was out. Biden said he'll decide in January.

One perverse reason to support Feingold was that he would have been a weak enough candidate that even the District of Columbia might have been in play. Maybe, for once, I would have been able to cast a meaningful vote in a presidential election. Too bad, I won't get that chance.

And another interesting political note. Joe Lieberman said he will be identified as Independent Democrat, not just Democrat, and that he won't rule out moving to the Republican conference if the Democrats don't move toward the foreign policy ideals of Truman and Kennedy and try to impose party-line discipline in the caucus. Joe is not as quick to say no hard feelings as the Dems seem to want.

The Dread Pirate No-Beard said...

Maybe Feingold is hoping we'll have forgotten about his involvement in the campaign finance reform mess.

Cedarford: One fun trick I like using when debating the ownership and/or proper usage of "nigger" with folks: If only blacks are allowed to say it, then are my bi-racial nephews and nieces allowed to say it on even numbered days but not on odd numbered days?

This usually washes away the sandy foundation of the ownership argument.

I highly recommend Randall Kennedy's Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word for those interested in the history of the word and its usage.

The Dread Pirate No-Beard

Internet Ronin said...

Ann: In terms of committee assignments, seniority, etc. Feingold's position in the Senate would not be affected in the least by a run for President. Now that the Democrats are in the majority, he will undoubtedly be enjoying his position more, and that is as good a reason as any to abandon a hopeless campaign.

Internet Ronin said...

I meant to add that I'm sure Senator Clinton and some others preferred he did run. He would siphon off most of the radical base and they could ignore it.

Anonymous said...

One divorce is fine. Two is too many for a presidential candidate.

Internet Ronin said...

Cheddar: Maybe Feingold is afraid of being outed ;)

HaloJonesFan said...

Feingold is a Democrat. The Dem/Left, believing that the strength of the conservative base is due to solidarity, will never say anything bad him. Just look at what's happening with Webb! And let's take note that while Liebermann was ostracized, it was more of a passive thing--they Just Didn't Talk About Him. At least not until he took the action to talk away--after that he was fair game.

Slac said...

Obama and Hillary.. If he had any solid chances of getting the nomination, much less the oval office, they disappear when these names are mentioned. Maybe Edwards.

Not because of voter popularity per se, but $$$. Supporters want to give money to the other candidates.

My father is a staunch anti-semite, so I'm sad to say that there is still quite a bit of it in America. It pains me to bring this up, but I don't think there could be a Jewish president, not even to lead the war on terror. Perhaps many Democrats would not vote for him in the primaries precisely because of that.

He might as well be an atheist!

Mark Daniels said...

The story, I think, is that he knew that he couldn't win. When the Dems won on Tuesday, staying in the Senate became more enticing...or maybe, that gave Feingold the excuse he needed to bow to the inevitable regarding his presidential prospects.

His announcement of his non-candidacy is about as shocking as the one made by Mississippi Republican governor Haley Barbour a few weeks ago.

I guess now Democrats and Republicans will have to be contented to get involved in the campaigns, respectively, of Tom Vilsack and Duncan Hunter, I guess.


class-factotum said...

"Pansy" is a bigoted slur? I always thought it meant "sissy." I've used it when talking to women. Can a straight woman be a pansy or only a lesbian? Can a woman be a pansy at all? Or just a Daisy, a Violet or a Rose?

I had to be chastised early on in my career when I said something about calling a spade a spade. I always thought it was about playing cards. Guess not.

Mark Daniels said...

I guess the English language got the better of me in my previous comment, I guess.


Zeb Quinn said...


"Am I the only one who immediately jumps to the conclusion that these guys are dropping out when their internal investigators turn up problems fatal to presidential aspirations?"

No, you're not. That's one of the things I was referring to when I said that there's a specific reason why he's not running, whether he's telling it or not.

Internet Ronin said...

Mark Daniels:

Decisions. Decisions: Tom Vilsack or Duncan Hunter. Be still my heart.

Internet Ronin said...

slac: FWIW As I recall, a recent poll showed that only 5% of Americans would vote for an aetheist. (It may have been discussed here at Althouse.) Huge majorities (above 70% IIRC) would vote for a Jewish or black candidate. Hispanics and Asians did not fare nearly as well. Neither did Mormons, which is Romney's problem.

michael a litscher said...

I have many thoughts. Let me itemize:






6) A strong tree, a strong rope, and a skiddish horse.

Kirk Parker said...

7) So do you, or do you not, shoot the rope?

Peter said...

Y'all think that of all those FBI files that were held in the Clinton White House were only on Republicans? Not likely.

michael a litscher said...

Kirk Parker: 7) So do you, or do you not, shoot the rope?

Sorry, all firearms were outlawed in an omnibus bill by the 110th Congress to continue funding for the Global War On Terror.

dick said...


Funny but I mentioned the same thing on another site and was told that thinking so was a sign of a disturbed mind. Personally I agree with you totally. Hillary and her detective buddy, neither of whom should have had any access to those files at all, combed through them for 6 months. Bet the copy machine worked overtime there for sure.

I would bet that anyone who dares to go up against Madam Clinton will be talked to in no uncertain terms about unsaid and unknown facts concerning their life that could maybe be released for common comsumption should said person dare to continue to go up against Madam Clinton. Don't know how to prove it but I would bet money on it.

altoids1306 said...

Why won't he run? Three possible reasons:

1. He is running - he'll "be persuaded", say, next year, by some notable has-been. Al Gore. By pretending not to want the presidency, he makes himself automatically more attractive.

2. He's reached some political arrangement with Clinton.

3. He's actually smart, and realizes running for President is just a legal form of torture. In which case, he has earned some respect from me. (See point #1).

Internet Ronin said...

I realize that very mention of Hillary Clinton makes many people (on the right and the left) foam at the mouth, but there is one thing Clinton definitely wants (should she in fact run for President) and that is someone runnng to the left of her in the primaries. Otherwise she is stuck pandering to that significant chunk of the primary electorate in order to obtain the nomination only to lose a general election as a result.

Why would Senator Clinton want Feingold out of the picture when he could run a credible losing campaign that frees her to continue tacking towards the center?

Mortimer Brezny said...

I actually buy the "position in the Senate" argument. He thought Dems would be in the minority during his run. And, he's on great committees. Now that the Dems run things, he would be an idiot to leave the Senate for a speculative bid for the Presidency.

I also think the Hillary argument has some teeth to it. His sources of funding were always sketchy. If not a formal deal, she may have simply locked up fundraisers he hoped to get.

Al Gore may have asked him not to run. Al Gore may be running.

The Obama phenomenon may have an effect. Obama is rather lefty and would crush Feingold.

BJK said...

I don't really buy the "Run the Senate" line of thinking, especially given that control over the Senate (and the House) will probably be dictated by the 2008 President's coat tails.

I have to wonder whether Feingold is trying to position himself as "above the fray" for the Presidential nod in order to set himself up for a VP nomination.

Mike said...

Meade said: "It might also give him the time needed to help lead his party back from the ledge of suicide by leftism."

Russ Feingold??? On what planet?

As for the money, that can't possibly be it. All he has to do is pass another free speech law.