Miscellaneous musings from the perspective of a lefty (both senses) atheist with a warped sense of humor.

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Location: Madison, WI, United States

I am a geek, but I do have some redeeming social skills. I love other people's dogs, cats, and kids. Snow sucks, but I'm willing to put up with it just to live in Madison.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Peg Lautenschlager for Wisconsin Attorney General

For the last 1/3 of a century, I’ve lived in Madison, where of late it’s been my privilege to have Kathleen Falk as my county executive. I have unbounded appreciation for her talents and her record of accomplishment. There’s little doubt that she would be the 2nd best attorney general the State of Wisconsin has ever had.

But, come September 12, I will be breaking my perfect record of voting for her every time I could, because I’d have to vote against the VERY best AG in state history: Peg Lautenschlager!

Back in 2002, Peg already had the best resume of any candidate for the office. A Phi Beta Kappa college graduate with double honors, she started out as a private attorney and subsequently served on the faculty of UW Law School, as district attorney for Winnebago County, in the Wisconsin Legislature, and as US attorney for western Wisconsin. Now, after 4 years of actual on-the-job experience, nobody else even comes close to her qualifications.

So let’s talk about the drunk-driving thing. You’ll hear a lot about it in this campaign because, frankly, it’s all her opponents have got. They can’t challenge her professional competence or her performance, so they’re stuck having to bring up a personal problem.

For me, it comes down to one simple question: Did it affect her ability to do her job? Answer: no. Case closed.

But I recognize that there are a lot of people for whom personal issues are important, so for them I offer 2 considerations:

(1) Peg admitted immediately what she’d done, forthrightly acknowledged it as a mistake, warned others not to do likewise, and took the consequences the law handed out without demur. Isn’t this exactly what we’d want a public official to do? If we thereafter reject such an honest person at the polls, aren’t we sending all our other public officials the wrong message? Aren’t we telling them to go ahead, lie, cover up, pull rank, deny, intimidate the arresting officer, bribe, try to blame someone else -- do anything you can to get out of it, or your political career is doomed? Shouldn’t we should encourage them to do the right thing, as Peg Lautenschlager did?

(2) If you really think that personal issues are important, how about throwing one into the opposite side of the balance scales: Peg’s fight against cancer and the baldness-inducing chemotherapy that came with it. She won’t say anything about it, because she correctly views it as irrelevant to her job performance, but if personal sagas are important to you, shouldn’t this year-long battle count for at least as much as a single night’s mistake?

We should be grateful that Peg Lautenschlager is willing to give us 4 more years of her talent and dedication. (And, frankly, I want to keep my county executive, too.)


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