Anybody who didn’t see Russ Feingold on the Daily Show tonight needs to do so (Crooks & Liars has the video). He truly comes off as a man who has the confidence of knowing he did the right thing when everyone around him was doing the Bob Shrum shuffle into the center, standing up for what he believed in while others were too preoccupied with calculating their own political futures to bother.
We’re not hearing much of that "Russ Feingold: political opportunist" meme any more, but I myself am delighted that someone in the party was smart enough to see that the base was ripe for seizing and then did it. While oily DC insiders were oozing over the political brilliance of Rahm Emmanuel’s sabotage of the progressives, Feingold did an end-run around the party bosses. The audience at the Daily Show was effusive; you could hear the the ardor he inspired. Feingold was funny without being glib and he came across as self-effacing, principled, and just awkward enough with the format to be thoroughly charming. And his message set the crowd to cheering.
I spent the day with my mom, a lifelong Republican who said today that "my party has abandoned me." She does’t like the Democrats either because she doesn’t see them fighting for people like her. She thought Feingold’s courage to buck the party dons and stand up to George Bush was inspirational. If people like my mom are ready to listen the whole political landscape could soon be shifting.
As someone who pioneered campaign finance reform Feingold can’t suck up to the big money bosses, but he has a chance to re-write the rules of the game with netroots support. So give him your email address and help him kick up a little dust.