Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
May 13, 2011
POLITICS: Kohl Out

I told you last month that Herb Kohl, Wisconsin's Democratic senior Senator, hadn't raised even a penny in the first quarter of 2011, leading to questions about whether he would run for re-election in 2012. Kohl was best known for being not known - he kept an extremely low profile in the Senate, and the best you can say of his Senate career is that, to quote Animal House, Kohl has a long tradition of existence in the Senate. Today he makes it official: he's not running for re-election in 2012.

Kohl's retirement sets off a scramble to identify the candidates for what will doubtless be a very high-profile race, given the recent political controversies in Wisconsin and its status as a potentially crucial 2012 swing state. The A-list Democratic candidate is recently deposed Democratic Senator Russ Feingold, who commands loyalty from the base and top-flight fundraising capability; given that Feingold was beaten in 2010 by relative unknown Ron Johnson (52%-47%) without the assistance of a scandal or other major controversy, running him sets up a pure test of whether the state's rightward shift will endure in 2012 with the elevated turnout of a national election.

The GOP "dream" candidate is Paul Ryan, who of course is also being courted in some circles to be a presidential or vice presidential contender, but Ryan has a safe lock on an otherwise Democratic-leaning district, a powerful perch in the House and young kids, so he may pass on this race. The other main candidate who's already jumped in is former two-term Congressman Mark Neumann, who lost a moderately close race to Feingold in 1998 (50.55%-48.40%) and finished a distant second to Scott Walker in the 2010 Gubernatorial primary.

Then again: it's a job opening in Wisconsin, and guess who's out of work!

Stay tuned.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:54 AM | Politics 2011 • | Politics 2012 | Comments (21) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

I love the link. It's brilliant! But he's the type who wouldn't settle for anything less than the big Kauhua. And when it comes to leaving, he's like Giuliani, doesn't know when to say goodbye.

Posted by: Daryl at May 14, 2011 9:15 PM

I guess Ryan read the tea leaves and saw that his plan is an albatross his opponents will hang around his neck.

Posted by: Magrooder at May 20, 2011 5:33 PM

Worse I think Magrooder. The GOP has hung more than one albatross on themselves. I think they've hanged themselves on the Reagan dictum not to speak ill of other Republicans. What they didn't get is he spoke to them in private. Here, no matter what you say, the more extreme the opinion, the more the lines in the sand get drawn.

1. As you said, the Ryan plan. Now I don't have problems with him coming up with something, because then you have issues to negotiate. But now the powers that be have decided that his preliminary ideas are the be all and end all. Contrast this with Obama and his Israel stance. He knows nobody is going to go to the actual 1967 borders, but it's something to start with. If Ryan or Bachman or someone decided that the 1967 borders were it, they would never ever negotiate.

2. They make Democrats to be the Devil incarnate so much, it's marginalizing themselves, and they don't seem to realize it. Look at Jon Huntsman. He's being excoriated because a President asked him to serve as Ambassador to China. A president who happened to be a Democrat, and worse, Obama, the guy with the horns himself. If anything, he's the most attractive candidate they probably could have. But no, he served Obamadevil.

3. The GOP seems so used to extremes, everyone who is against them is evil, the worst, the anti-christ. They did this with bin-Laden, making a very smart extremist group to be a much bigger threat than they really were---and look at the cost. In bodies and in dollars. Tax increases on a few is evil, even if it means only going back to 1999, when, let's face it, times were pretty good (do they insult Ike, when the rates were as high as 90%?).

You conservatives are rapidly becoming the party of Hate, and Hate can only take you so far.

Posted by: Daryl at May 23, 2011 12:24 PM

Daryl, you completely misunderstand the nature of bargaining. The 1967 borders should be the Palestinians' opening bid, not the Israelis' if they hope - as they do - to get a better deal for themselves than the 1967 borders. The fact that Obama is pushing the Israelis to the far extreme of the Palestinians' opening bid while putting no conditions at all on the Palestinians is ... well, it's one of many reasons the whole thing is a charade.

Likewise, nobody in the GOP is saying the Ryan plan has to be the last word in every detail. Ryan himself has tinkered with the plan a few times, and will be the first to tell you that. But it's a good start, and conservatives mistrust anyone who bails on the opening bid for exactly the same reasons why Netanyahu mistrusts Obama.

Posted by: Crank at May 23, 2011 12:43 PM

"You conservatives are rapidly becoming the party of Hate, and Hate can only take you so far."

The projection here is off the charts. LOL.

Posted by: andrew at May 23, 2011 4:05 PM

no Crank Netanyahu is playing to the crazy side of American politics. He knows people like you will intentionally leave out the part of Obama'a speech about land swaps (same American position the past 3 administrations) details you leave out because it under cuts your argument and points out your sides lack of honesty and credibility.

Posted by: javaman at May 23, 2011 6:55 PM

javaman - Heh, I knew I'd get somebody to walk into that trap.

One of the golden rules of political communication, especially in negotiations across language barriers, is that what matters is often what people think you said. The NY Times, for example, trumpeted the speech as a deal based on the 1967 borders. That's why the Israeli media felt he needed to clarify.

Anyway, the 67-with-land-swaps point remains the end point. You can't start bargaining at your bottom line, while allowing your adversary to start with the moon and stars. It is not possible to have a successful negotiation from those starting points, no matter what you're negotiating over. Indeed, as Yossi Klein Halevi argued in the WSJ before the speech, the only reason Netanyahu has the domestic political credibility to get to that as an endpoint is that he has been vigorous in insisting that Israel retains a historic claim to Judea and Samaria.

Posted by: Crank at May 23, 2011 7:05 PM

not a trap just another way for you to defend a dishonest assessment of the speech. Please explain what the President said was different than the last three administrations? The 1967 do not matter at all once land swaps enter the conversation plain and simple. You know this but you still allowed Netanyahu to play you like a out of tune Violin. So they want the historic claim of Judea and Samaria with land swaps on the table how is that not possible? See there how your point is flat out dishonest?
I would love to play you in poker any day.

Posted by: javaman at May 23, 2011 7:19 PM

Any swaps that have even a theoretical likelihood of being agreed to will involve giving away a large fraction of Judea and Samaria, as Klein noted. IOW, Netanyahu's position is not at all identical to what Obama was talking about, which is why you had the unusual spectacle of Netanyahu pushing back publicly to Obama's face.

I agree that Obama's speech said less than it was touted as saying (in fact, aside from the 1967 line, the speech said essentially nothing at all, which is typical for his speeches that are touted as major and historic). Certainly the Times over-read what he was saying, but the Times was hardly alone in doing so.

That said, as numerous sources reported, this broke incremental new ground in putting the 67 borders on the table as a US framework. It was that new ground that triggered Netanyahu's reaction.

Posted by: Crank at May 23, 2011 7:30 PM

Netanyahu pushed back b/c he knew he would get political traction here. The 1967 borders have always been on the table. Let us say The President put the 1967 border in play as a negotiating ploy? Pretty savvy move based on the over reactions. Seems like Netanyahu over played his hand on a non-issue to gain points in the American political arena. Problem his complains rings hollow when placed next to the facts. Remember it is a negotiation you have always work the best angle to get the outcome that is desired.

Posted by: javaman at May 23, 2011 9:54 PM

Javaman, at this point I don't even know what point you are attempting to make other than that you approve of everything Obama might do. I'm making the same basic points here about the nature of negotiation that I've been making the past 8 years or so. You win by forcing the other guy to come to you, which you do by showing that he needs to make concessions to get you to give something back. Nothing in your comments suggests that Obama has, or will, accomplish any movement in the Palestinian position, and your reference to "over reactions" seems to suggest you think this is just about internal U.S. politics, which it may be to Obama, but it's not to Netanyahu and certainly is not if the goal is to reach an actual agreement of any kind.

"his complains rings hollow when placed next to the facts" - what facts?

Posted by: Crank at May 23, 2011 10:10 PM

Crank, your response to me is exactly why everyone hates lawyers. You see, you gave the lawyer response. The problem is you lawyers think you have this special knowledge that gives you insight. Sadly, you don't.

Lawyers are trained that process is all. So for you to arrogantly state I misunderstand the nature of bargaining is simply stupid. I practiced architecture for 15 years (and designed about 20 law offices in that time, so I understand how you think more than you do--I had to). As long as your steps are followed, everything will fall into place, and if it doesn't, well, it was done right. Except I don't care how the building comes together, only that it does. In this case, the construction is a lasting workable relationship between the Israelis and the Palestinians. And BTW, since I've been a self employed real estate professional (who has managed to still make a living in these dark times) I probably understand negotiation far more than you do. And it doesn't matter how it gets done as long as it does. -- yes a non-lawyer knows more. That is also not in your training!!

The 1967 borders? A start. No they won't end up that way, but somewhere along the way, the West Bank will become Palestine. Gaza? Nobody knows, and frankly, including the West Bank and Fatah, nobody really cares. Sad but true. You see, it's really inevitable, because in less than 20 years, unless politics really changes, the final alliance will be Jordan, Palestine and Israel against their true common enemy: Syria. This is why what is happening in Syria is so important. Because Libya and Saudi Arabia have oil, Syria controls the water supply.

Crank, remember, it's the outcome, not the path. Your training doesn't allow you to see it, and your training doesn't allow you to see it in others. Too bad. Law school is a great training ground for the Law, but a bad one for life.

Posted by: Daryl at May 23, 2011 10:15 PM

Daryl, like javaman, your response fails to even suggest any way in which any of this would lead the Palestinians to alter their position. That's not process, it's substance. The idea that the Palestinians will suddenly come to support their hated enemy against Hamas' Syrian patrons some distant day in the future is preposterous, and in any event has nothing to do with why Obama should push the Israelis to concede every last inch of their negotiating position while demanding nothing in return as precondition.

"I understand how you think more than you do" - the motto of liberals everywhere, who insist that they alone are the sole arbiter of everyone else's motivations and can just ignore all contrary arguments by pretending they are the product of false consciousness.

Posted by: Crank at May 23, 2011 10:25 PM

I get it Crank the President should simply lay all his cards on the table with no red herrings, fake issues, or any other misdirection to reach the end goal. Just plow straight ahead, only use a path that suits your logic that is plain stupid!!!! In what world would you negotiate without hedging or bluffing?
Not approving every thing this President does just pointing out your disingenuous post. You pulled back but then you must have realized you were being resonable.

Posted by: javaman at May 24, 2011 12:11 AM

You seem to be assuming the president is negotiating against Israel.

Posted by: Crank at May 24, 2011 12:13 AM

I didn't have a big problem with Obama's Israel's speech, and I didn't see it as being materially different than previous administrations. I don't buy that the border comment itself made much difference in terms of the parties' negotiating position.

The US national interests is to have the border situation peacefully resolved, not to rubber-stamp Israel's preferred outcome, and it is helpful to remind Israel of that. I'm not convinced that defending Israel to the hilt on every issue advances the resolution.

And Daryl, knock off the lawyer crap. Crank's position on this has nothing to do with him being a lawyer; you said yourself that negotiation experience isn't limited to lawyers, so why even go there? Why not just respond to his argument?

Crank's position has nothing to do with being a lawyer, and for that matter, neither does mine.

Posted by: MVH at May 24, 2011 7:37 AM

But it does MVH. It really does. Because of your very specific training. As I said, I've had to design loads of lawyers offices. Large and medium, major firms and a few small ones. Do do that, you have to understand how lawyers think. And it's not a criticism. No question, lawyers were my favorite clients, hands down. (Doctors were the worst BTW). Because it's generally easy to deal with an intelligent group. Also an exclusive one. After a while you could see that all law offices were the same with minor differences, so all I needed to know was what kind of law and how many partners.

It got to be a very inside (me alone) joke: I would always ask, "How many people are in your firm," and I would always (not sometimes, every single time) get the answer, "150 (or whatever) attorneys." I didn't ask that, but somehow, every lawyer thought of themselves as the only answer (and otherwise they were invariably sensational clients, always responsive, paid well, gave direct answers). Oh, according to William Safire, you are LAWYERS, only an attorney to a specific client. Just so you know.

So it's not knocking off the crap. It's a true observation. Your very training has seemed to make you all believe you have this arcane exclusive knowledge, and that you are the bastion of civilization. I happen to think farmers and plumbers are, but that's another subject.

No, the Palestinians won't suddenly wake up and say, "My Israelis friends, we must join together." It's the evolution of issues that are coming together. Fatah has begun, for the first time, the process of moving to the future, establishing a real police force and economy. Hamas and Gaza seem hell bent on doing the bidding of their Iranian masters and staying in the 12th century. There is going to have to be a Palestinian state, and one that will not be able to strike Israel, because then, it's not a terrorist attack, but an invasion, and that gets treated very differently in response. Slight attacks can and will be treated with overwhelming force. And the water issues won't go away. Not in the middle east, not in our southwest, not anywhere. Because it is simply stated, our species' most precious commodity.

Posted by: Daryl at May 24, 2011 10:15 AM

Crank,

Once again, by blindly parroting the wing nut talking points, you ignore aspects of the President's speech that contradict your story line. The "1967 borders with land swaps" was not the only settlement term the President invoked. He also said that the Palistinians had to formally recognize Israel as a Jewish state AND commit to being demilitarized.

Will they ever agree to those terms? Who knows but if they did (and the second provision were enforceable -- a big "if" to be sure), Netanyahu's complaints would vanish like most of the argument that comes form the right.

In any case, those basic terms have been the framework of US position for years.

Posted by: Magrooder at May 24, 2011 11:10 AM

Well, Daryl, you're going to believe what you're going to believe, but you've now heard from two lawyers (or attorneys, they are interchangable), who say opposite things on an issue with nothing to do with law, and neither of us has relied on any kind of arcane or specialized legal knowledge. You can find plenty of non-lawyers making the exact same arguments, so there was no need to bring it up.

Your opinion that because of our specfic training, we're all a bunch of insufferable know-it-alls on every subject is a ridiculous, blanket generalization that needs no further comment.

Posted by: MVH at May 24, 2011 12:03 PM

"Heh, I knew I'd get somebody to walk into that trap."
-----
I love traps. What did you get him to do, Crank, over-react and start a war with someone who had nothing to do with the nation being attacked, where it would get bogged-down for more than a half-dozen years and spend over a billion dollars a week it needs to borrow?
If so, you are a genius in getting suckers to walk into traps, and you know an easily manipulated foolish mark when you see one.

Posted by: Berto at May 24, 2011 1:38 PM

Just remember MVH, it was Crank who told me I misunderstood the nature of bargaining, when he SHOULD have said I disagreed with HIM. And it's not that lawyers have to agree on things (when have two lawyers agreed on anything except the fee?). No, my point is HOW you get to your conclusions, not what the conclusion is.

Are my opinions on lawyers universal and complete? No, of course not, it's a broad generalization, which means it covers most times. You seem to misunderstand the perception of lawyers. Most of you really do believe you have the arcane special knowledge that holds chaos at bay. Ambrose Bierce though otherwise (check The Devil's Dictionary). Yours is a profession that generally makes its living on the fruits of others' misery. And at closings I've been at (many), and negotiations, rare is the lawyer who understands their job is to MAKE a deal, not break it, not show off their knowledge in "protection," because that is not getting the job done.

And I assume we all know what Shakepeare said about lawyers. Who are any of us to argue with genius?

Posted by: Daryl at May 24, 2011 1:53 PM
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