On Dylan and Feingold

Yes, you read that title correctly.  Bill Kauffman, writing at The American Conservative, sings the praises of both Bob Dylan and Russ Feingold.  He even squeezed a couple of paragraphs on Springsteen into the piece.

Kauffman connects Feingold to the reforming spirit of midwestern progressives such as Fighting Bob La Follette:

When the Masters of War—“even Jesus would never forgive what you do”—requested the presence of American sons at the blood orgies of 1917, 1941, 1950, and 1964, it was the Upper Midwest, with its Non-Partisan Leagues and retro-Progressives and Sons of the Wild Jackass, that brayed, “No!” Where are their offspring? I don’t mean to be impertinent or importunate, Dakotas and Minnesota and Wisconsin, but we look to you for La Follettes and Nyes and McGoverns and you give us Al Franken and Ron Johnson? Turn off the goddamn television, would you please, and turn on Wisconsin!

Feingold had his flaws but he was the only member of the Senate with the guts to vote against the Patriot Act. As Jesse Walker of Reason writes, he also “voted against TARP, was decent on the Second Amendment, and was one of the rare liberals to reach out to the Tea Parties instead of demonizing them.” He was neither red nor blue—each a scoundrel hue.

Senator Feingold quoted Dylan in his concession speech: “My heart is not weary /It’s light and it’s free /I have nothing but affection for those who have sailed with me.” Dylan closed our concert with “Ballad of a Thin Man,” rasping, “Something is happening here /But you don’t know what it is /Do you, Mr. Jones?”

I’m no more perceptive than Mr. Jones, but one thing is all too clear: the Upper Midwest, historic home of the American peace movement, has come down with an awfully bad case of laryngitis. And it’s gettin’ dark—too dark to see.

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