Well, yesterday I probably gave C-SPAN the highest ratings its ever had against the Super Bowl, when I watched Senator Feingold's "Q&A" interview when it first aired at 7 central. And it was worth it. For those who didn't see it, check out the transcript and video here.
Senator Feingold did a great job-intelligent and affable, as always. Lamb asked a lot of campaign finance related questions, and Senator Feingold did a good job pointing that McCain-Feingold, while imperfect, did get senators and congressmen out of the business of asking for huge soft money contributions. But it wasn't all campaign finance-we also learned that the Senator's younger sister was the first female rabbi in Wisconsin and that a guy named Henry Janes went around the country in the 19th century founding cities called Janesville-including the Senator's hometown.
And, of course, 2008 was brought up. The Senator gave his standard answer, but Brian Lamb briefly showed the draftruss.org website. Go C-SPAN!
Here are my two favorite parts of the interview:
LAMB: We get calls all the time on our call-in show that, people will say, this is a Christian nation.
Does that bother you when you hear that?
FEINGOLD: I don't like that. I don't think that's right. It's certainly one of the things it is, is a Christian nation. But it's also Jewish and Buddhist and Islamic, and for those who don't have, follow an organized religion.
One of the reasons that I believe so passionately in our Constitution, in our system of government, and in particular in the Bill of Rights, is that I do believe that the separation of church and state are essential for the freedom and the comfort of those of us who are minorities- those of us whose grandparents or great-grandparents came here to get away from religious persecution. That is fundamental to me and to my family.
And so, if it ever comes to the point where people say, well, you know, really this is a just a Christian nation, and others really are second-class citizens, that is not the America that I believe in. And I will fight to stop efforts to do that.
As an agnostic, I'm glad to see someone in Congress who understands and respects separation of church and state. Many of our founding fathers had views that offended the religious orthodoxy of their day, and they left God out of the Constitution for a reason. Thanks Senator Feingold, for reminding us that we're all Americans, regardless of our religious beliefs or lack thereof.
But here's the more important question, when looking at 2008:
LAMB: What's a progressive?
FEINGOLD: In Wisconsin, a progressive is somebody who believes firmly in individual rights, who believes that government should be used only when appropriate- not automatically, but where appropriate- to help solve our problems.
For example, if older people are inappropriately going to nursing homes prematurely, a Progressive says, maybe there's a way we can create a home and community-based program that will help balance that. That's a Wisconsin progressive.
But a Wisconsin progressive is also very pro-small business and pro-farmer. And also, tough as nails on spending.
Wisconsin progressives believe that if you want to do something, you should figure out a way to pay for it. So at the same time- so at the same time that I'm a person who is considered Progressive- sometimes called a Liberal- I also am known as one of the top one or two deficit hawks in the whole Senate.
I am the toughest on unnecessary spending. The Concord Coalition has put me on their honor roll. Because that's how we look at it in Wisconsin.
It doesn't matter what your political views are, you've got to pay the bills. You can't run up debts. That isn't about ideology, that's about good government.
And that's really the heart of Wisconsin progressivism. It's about clean, good government. And part of clean, good government in my view is not running up huge bills.
Am I the only one who thinks that's a message that will appeal to people across the nation, not just in Wisconsin?
Please read or see the whole interview!