Watch Wisconsin 2012 Debate: U.S. Senate General Election on PBS. See more from WPT Presents.
Dearest reader, you can lose an hour of your life the way I did and watch this debate. Or you can save yourself the trouble and simply imagine an educated and compassionate woman trying to reason with a belligerent old man who has staggered onto her front lawn.
Seriously. This isn’t my usual joking at Tommy’s reputation for drunkenness [we can get into that some other day]. For example, take a look at this tidbit in which Thompson calls Tammy “Joe Biden”.
Oh, if only Tammy were more like Joe Biden she could’ve put Tommy in a time-out where he belonged.
Style or Lack Thereof
Tommy’s behavior became literally bullying during the 6 minute unmoderated portions of the debate, which hyper-tan anchorman Charles Benson of TMJ4 said would be a chance for the candidates to “have a healthy exchange of ideas.”
Apparently Tommy’s hearing aid had gone wonky and instead of “healthy exchange” he heard “cage fight”. OK, I exaggerate. A little.
It frankly doesn’t help that Tammy refuses to get treatment for her perpetual case of politeness. To be clear, she did hold her own very nicely and scored some great points. But here’s an example of one of her losses: Tammy does not call Tommy a “lobbyist”. She calls him “a partner in a lobbying firm”. *sigh* Eight syllables vs. three. More on that in the footnote.
Also, Tammy didn’t make a nice pile of hay over catching Tommy in his bold claim that he started Wisconsin’s Seniorcare program as I wanted her to. But she did catch him. Here’s how that went:
Thompson had just said he invented Badgercare, Seniorcare and maybe sliced bread.
Tammy then said, “It’s about time for me to jump in on this. First of all, Governor McCallum started senior care”.
Thompson then said, “No, I did.”
Tammy then said, “A bill sponsored by Judy Robson” and shot Thompson a look.
Thompson then STFU realizing that she could go for his jugular or at the very least ask him to take care of his own health seeing as how he’s already been caught forgetting how many houses he has (The answer is 4. He thought he had 3. Oh whoops.)
Now, at the risk of coming off as a grammar nut, I have to mention the way these two candidates string together a sentence. Tommy says such eloquent things as, “Property taxes is a huge tax on middle class”.
Tammy on the other hand slowly unfurls this:
“Tommy Thompson has embraced and campaigned for many months on the Ryan Plan, which, according to the Tax Policy Center, increases the tax cuts for our very wealthiest by $265,000 on average for millionaires like himself.”
Up against Tommy, Tammy looks like a god damn nuclear scientist. I don’t think this is ideal. A televised debate uses the same device that delivers Jersey Shore, Wheel of Fortune, and Dancing with the Stars. Tommy’s blunt force and beer references fit in on the tube.
Yes. Where there’s Tommy, there is beer. At one point Tommy – in an effort to distance himself from the Paul Ryan plan – brought up the simple flat tax system he’s been fantasizing about since at least his 2008 run for presidency. If Tommy could finagle a transition from the current tax code to his plan, he says, and I’m not kidding here, that you and I could complete our taxes during a Bears-Packers half-time with time to spare for a trip to the kitchen for a glass of cold beer. I don’t fault Tammy for being so bedazzled by Tommy’s BS-ing that she forgot to remind the viewing audience that the system would radically shift the tax burden from the wealthy to the middle class.
You’ll notice that both candidates made manufacturing a focal point of the discussion. That’s because Wisconsin is still a top manufacturing state. Tommy claimed that 7,500 jobs will be lost in the paper industry if stricter EPA regs on industrial boilers go through.
Truth is, the MACT rules he’s discussing also impact coal and oil fuel use.
Truth is that cleaner air for our lungs and water for Wisconin’s fishing [another big deal] isn’t going to happen through magic fairy dust and prayer. Somebody has to be a responsible party and reduce the particulates and toxic heavy metals that come out of boilers by upgrading technology for our health and know what? That also makes jobs.
Some of those jobs would be created in the biomass energy industry which is just thrilled right now because the MACT rules Thompson mentioned include options to replace fossil fuel with wood-waste fuels – which Wisconsin also has. But Tammy didn’t say that in the debate. She countered that she and Herb Kohl urged the EPA to moderate and slow down its tack on the MACT boiler upgrades and indeed EPA has.
Frankly, Tammy can do MUCH better on this in the next debate and it will come up again.
At the 12:30 mark, the topic turns to healthcare and here Tammy did quite well.
On healthcare both candidates had to do some explaining on sound bites. Tommy’s was the who-better-than-him-to-do-away-with-medicare line from a speech he gave at a Tea Party event. Tammy’s line: “I was actually for a government takeover of medicine.”
Tammy then did a fantastic job talking about the stories of real people such as the families that put medical bills on a credit card or the children who can’t get insurance due to pre-existing conditions. She called such hardship “abuse” that “needed to get reigned in and she credited Obamacare, AKA “the Affordable Care Act” for doing that.
Then she said this perfect thing:
“Medicare is a program run by the government. I was raised by my grandparents. I got to see at a very early age the difference that medicare and social security, but particularly medicare, made in our family’s economic security. It is one that I think — it’s a program that I think isn’t just a program, but it’s a promise. And one that I vow to keep. We need to strengthen and extend the solvency of medicare, not voucherize it or do away with it, as Tommy Thompson said himself.”
Score, score, score.
For his part, Tommy did a much weaker job. He has this vaguely defined two tier plan. He slammed Canadian healthcare. He repeated the Romney lie about over $700 billion being swapped out of medicare for Obamacare.
To which Tammy responded strongly that it “simply wasn’t true” adding that AARP backs her up on that. (Well done, Tammy.)
He also tried to say that because he “reformed” welfare in Wisconsin he can reform Medicare. Trouble with that is that he’s by extension telling seniors that their healthcare is like welfare. Good luck spinning that positive, Tommy!
Tommy also struggled mightily to distance himself from his ties to Big Pharma and his role in the ole Medicare Part D deal. Here Tammy did very well busting through his bluster to say in an incredulous voice, “You were the mastermind of Medicare Part D, but you had nothing to do with it?”. She used “mastermind” because these words came out of Thompson’s mouth October 7, 2012: “I was the mastermind and the individual that had responsibility in getting that passed.”
She even got in the dig that Tommy’s plan moved the Medicare program “nine years closer to bankruptcty” and she said it “wasn’t paid for”.
You’ll see lot made of the uranium stock Tommy bought and supposedly sold the same day. You’ll see stuff on an organization that gave Tammy money which Tommy erroneously called a “company” and “pro-Iran”. In my opinion this is the inside baseball portion of the debate. The two candidates gained and lost points in this area but Tammy gained a bit more here, since Tommy elicited laughter from the in-studio audience when he said that he sold his “two shares” in stock that very day. It’s not a huge deal though – the undecideds either tuned out by the that time [end of debate] or they are disconnected from foreign policy anyway in their usual way.
There’s plenty more but sorry – I’m all out of time.
You can read it in full or watch once – or maybe twice as I did. I felt in that 2nd watching a clunk of new emotion. It sank in that I am absolutely sick of profiteer cronies like Tommy. I got the urge to fight again for the right person for the job and for us. Felt good.
Lobbyist Footnote: “a partner in a lobbying firm”
Apparently this drives me so nuts I just had to wrote more.
Depending on your elocution, you utter 8 syllables for the lobbying firm phrase and 3 syllables for the word lobbyist. Eight syllables is practically a novel on television. Not being perfectly accurate isn’t just fine it’s IDEAL. When Tommy responds – as you know he will – with “I’m not a lobbyist” THEN Tammy is to say either “Well what exactly ARE you then?” and let him stammer out his shinola and THEN she has the chance to go specific to make it perfectly, skeweringly clear that Tommy is servicing (Yes. “Servicing”) corporations through Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld to the tune of $37,940,000 in 2011. And then you remind the audience that your old boy network doesn’t know those bounds because Tommy also serves on the corporate boards of… You know where I’m going here. I would call him a “corporate crony” or an “old boy” (as in “old boy’s network”).
I hope Tammy runs with this Tommy bullshit from the debate in an ad:
“I’m a secretary. I administer the programs that congress passes. I don’t vote on it, I don’t write it, and I don’t introduce it.”
Tommy “Mastermind” Thompson’s work on Medicare Part D:
Whoa. There’s a 60 minutes expose and blog post. This is a big deal.
“I’ve been in politics for 22 years,” says Jones, “and it was the ugliest night I have ever seen in 22 years.”