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Obama concert tour can’t rescue November


Publication:Waukesha Freeman (Conley); Date:Sep 30, 2010; Section:Opinion; Page Number:10A

Obama concert tour can’t rescue November

President preaching to the faithful

I’m sure if I had made the trip to Madison on Tuesday afternoon, I would have enjoyed the Ben Harper concert. Unfortunately, Harper was only the opening act for the President Barack Obama “Rescue November” tour.

The president came to Madison at a time when his popularity is plummeting, dragging his party with him. A Fox News poll shows the president has a 41 percent approval rating. Obama is looking like a one-hit wonder with no followup.

The two candidates he came to rescue are not faring much better, according to another Fox News poll. The Democrats’ candidate for governor, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, is behind Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker 49 percent to 45 percent. Less close is the race for Senate, where once-safe Senator Feingold is behind Oshkosh businessman Ron Johnson 52 percent to 44 percent.

The president chose the friendliest setting possible for his visit. Madison was last represented in Congress by a Republican in 1999. The city itself is a synonym for left-wing politics. Political correctness and government spending are the oxygen that keeps the city breathing.

Despite the recession, Madison is doing well for itself with only a 5.4 percent unemployment rate. Had Obama ventured a little bit to the south to Beloit, he might have had a larger crowd turnout given the devastating 15.3 percent unemployment there.

As the MacIver Institute’s Brian Fraley wrote Tuesday, Wisconsin’s economy has actually lost 111,500 jobs since Obama’s inauguration. I’m sure many of them were hoping that the president had something new to say other than they should be really, really enthusiastic about voting to continue the president’s current economic policies.

Beyond the friendly setting, Obama’s choice of Madison for a visit was an interesting one considering his last visit to the city. On that occasion, it is widely believed he pressured Barrett to make the run for governor. Perhaps Barrett took a moment today to reminisce with the president and ask, “What have you gotten me into?”

On that same trip, Obama announced the launch of the Race to the Top education program meant to reward states for innovation in education. Wisconsin has applied twice for the funding, failing to qualify both times. Perhaps Obama took a moment to explain to Barrett that Wisconsin’s reputation for educational reform ended when Gov. Tommy Thompson left office. Perhaps the next Republican governor will fix that.

Madison is also the destination of the not-so-fast train from Milwaukee. It’s a classic example of the federal government wasting money deciding Madison needs a train, and then failing to decide where the train should go. Originally, the train could have greeted Obama on his next trip at the airport. Now he’ll have to motorcade it downtown to catch the train to Milwaukee. Glad they figured that out.

The federal price tag of all this 19th century technology is $810 million. However, as Brookfield Mayor Steve Ponto has learned, nobody really knows what the local cost will be for cities that get hooked into buying a station on the train route. He has decided to wait to see who wins the next election before letting Brookfield commit to an expense it may not be able to afford. Obama should learn by example.

The real magic moment was when Sen. Russ Feingold appeared. Feingold was expected to be a no-show, but it’s probably not good form to snub the husband of Michelle Obama when you’re asking her to appear at a fundraiser in October.

It was the closest thing to a friendly crowd Feingold has seen since the beginning of the debate over Obama’s health care program. Of course, some of the college kids in attendance are benefitting from being able to sponge off their parents’ health insurance a little longer. Their parents might not be so cheerful about that prospect as they are getting told their health insurance premiums are going up due to the new federal health care law.

Last time Obama visited Wisconsin, he announced another stimulus bill. The country was spared more silliness Tuesday. On the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, Wisconsin voters can take an even more proactive step to prevent silly announcements.

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)


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