Friday, August 20, 2010

Ron Johnson: man of (no) principles

Ron Johnson has had a difficult time sticking to his principles this campaign season -- perhaps because he doesn't have any.

The Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, who is hoping to unseat current Sen. Russ Feingold this fall, has proven to be a formidable opponent for the thrice-elected Democrat. Several polls show Johnson just a few points under Feingold, with recent Rasmussen polls showing the Republican even leading him (see why that may not be so big a concern here).

That's likely to change, however. Recent ads from the Feingold campaign have brought to light what kind of senator Ron Johnson would be were he to win election this November.

One of the first ads detailed how Johnson, when asked about whether he'd be open to drilling for oil in the Great Lakes, said that "we have to get the oil where it is." Johnson later said he misheard the question (but only after the Feingold campaign released its commercial, weeks after the interview). Even so, Johnson's BP stock holdings, which number in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, as well as his recent defense of the oil company, paint a picture of a candidate who would be open to such drilling.

Then there's the issue of the Second Amendment, the right to own a weapon. Speaking to a Tea Party crowd awhile back, Johnson expressed his support for gun rights -- with certain restrictions required, such as registering for a license to own one.

"You know, like, we license cars and stuff, I don't have a problem with [licensing for guns]," Johnson said.

Feingold responded to this quip as well. Feingold, a constitutional scholar, doesn't believe that licensing should be needed, that registering for a permit is what's needed. "You shouldn't have to wait in line at the DMV for your constitutional freedoms," Feingold says in his ad, Stuff.

Following the ad, Johnson reversed course once again, stating that he misspoke earlier on the issue.

"I'm a first-time candidate, and I made a mistake," he said.

Can Wisconsin afford to have a first-time Senator make similar mistakes in Washington?

Then there's the issue of global climate change. Ron Johnson, a skeptic on the issue, believes he knows why the earth is warming up. It's not from man-made problems, but from sunspots!

"It's far more likely that it's just sunspot activity or just something in the geologic eons of time," Johnson said, adding that those who believe in man-made climate change were "crazy" and that the theory -- a generally accepted one among the world's leading scientists -- was "lunacy."

Except Johnson's science doesn't hold up either. The "sunspots" theory was dismissed long ago, as this article from National Geographic shows us.

It seems that Johnson's scientific theories are the one's that are crazy, not the scientific community's. And Feingold agrees: "I'm not going to take a course in Ron Johnson science any time soon," he said recently.

The Johnson campaign is trying to paint Feingold as a "career politician," implying that he is out of touch with the average Wisconsin voter. Yet over the past few month that Johnson has been a viable opponent, he has proven more and more that he (Johnson) is the candidate who is out of touch, who doesn't understand the true sentiments of the people in this state.

The question every voter in Wisconsin will have to ask themselves come November will be this: will they want an experienced public servant who has served Wisconsin dutifully over many years, who has held a consistent position on a variety of issues, thwarting even his own party in the process when necessary? Or will they want a businessman who can't keep his facts straight, who has never held any position within governance, who wavers on the issues, taking a stance one day then quickly changing his mind the next when he sees it's politically advantageous to do so (which shows he's never really thought them through), and whose interests don't always coincide with the average Wisconsin voter but rather with what's going to help his personal portfolio?

For my money, the "career politician" -- the man with the experience and the know-how to get things done in Washington -- is the man we want representing our state. Inexperience isn't necessarily a disadvantage, but it is when you don't know what it is your doing (or saying, for that matter -- a problem Ron Johnson seems to have). A freshman senator needs to be ready to handle the job on day one. We can't expect Ron Johnson to do that. Russ Feingold, on the other hand, comes with both the experience and candor needed to represent our state, and has always worked with the interests of the people of Wisconsin in mind.

A senator like Russ Feingold only comes around once in a lifetime; we shouldn't toss him aside simply because he's worked his whole life serving the people of Wisconsin.

1 comment:

  1. Ron Johnson's been making a lot of mistakes lately, but the problem really is that he probably doesn't believe they're actually mistakes until he gets criticized for them. RoJo may not be a politician, but he's already demonstrated he's got a knack for doublespeak.