Today's My Two Cents was going to be the shortest in history as I considered recapping the highlights of Senator Herb Kohl's time in Washington. You have to admit, after 24-years there is not a single bill or law or budget measure that you can point to and say "Herb Kohl did that." Love him or hate him, at least Russ Feingold will have the enduring legacy of the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Law--and its continuing erosion in the courts--to hang his hat on.
So let's kick Senator Kohl to the curb as quickly as possible--since that is the nature of our society today--and instead focus on the race to replace him. Of course, there is one heavyweight matchup that anyone with even a passing interest in politics would like to see--Congressman Paul Ryan versus Former Senator Russ Feingold. Anyone who didn't think that Herb Kohl was feeling some pressure to "retire" the day after Feingold lost to Ron Johnson last fall is kidding themselves. Honestly, how many Senators actually "retire" anyway? Did anyone see Ted Kennedy or Robert Byrd? They were litterally carried out of the chambers rather than "let someone else have a shot" as Senator Kohl says he is doing.
Anyway, back to the Battle Royale that could be looming in 2012. Think of it as the ultimate referendum on the size and scope of government. The champion of "The Government can fix all of your problems" in Senator Feingold, versus the champion of "The Government can't afford to fix all of your problems." And like any Battle Royale I can already give you the script on how this will play out. The anti-Feingold ads will endlessly mention his support for Obamacare and the trillion of dollars in debt it will create. The anti-Ryan forces will counter with the tried and true "He wants to end Medicare and Social Security" angle. Actually, I'm surprised some third party ads didn't start running over the weekend. "Call Senator Feingold and tell him Wisconsin already told him we don't want his big spending ways in Washington."
Both Feingold and Ryan are playing it coy right now--issuing press releases thanking Senator Kohl for his service and mentioning nothing about their own interest in the position. But you know it's coming. There is no way Democrats want Feingold sitting on the sidelines--especially since they are looking at losing control of the Senate in 2012. And Republicans are a little short on superstars in Wisconsin right now--so Ryan provides the only real hope of repelling Feingold again.
So let's sit back and get ready for the greatest political showdown in Wisconsin history. Hopefully it lives up to the hype.