I have a piece up now about Russ Feingold's campaign for U.S. Senate, a surprise dogfight -- which he's currently losing -- that holds special meaning to progressives. The basic argument coming from Wisconsin Democrats, Feingold includes, is that big Republican media and money have created a nigh-impossible environment, by hiding the truth about the Democrats' successes, and by obscuring the issues.
At an event Monday, in the small north-central Wisconsin town of Rhinelander, I talked briefly with Feingold and posed this question. Was Johnson's generic, kick-the-bums-out, stop-all-the-spending campaign working because voters didn't think Democrats had delivered? When Johnson refused to get specific about how to create jobs, did that hit home because Democrats said the stimulus would create jobs and voters don't think it did?
"It's something you have to work hard on," said Feingold. "The fact that 95 percent of the people, working families , got a tax cut is something that has not been adequately stressed. I've been stressing it all year. I think people are beginning to realize, though, as they see projects in their communities, the highway projects, the fact that we have a wonderful new senior center in Plymouth, a new wastewater-treatment plant here in Rhinelander—these things, people are now sort of admitting that it probably did a good job."