Sunday, January 14, 2007

Steve Kagen - True to Form

It seems Dr. Steve Kagen, WI 8th CD Representative, just got himself in the news (read to the bottom) for being an asshole:

Newly elected Rep. Steven Kagen, a rich allergist who self-financed his campaign in Wisconsin, by his own account taunted President and Mrs. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and presidential adviser Karl Rove during a White House function for new members of Congress in December.

Kagen told a group of activists that after he found himself in the restroom with Rove, he blocked the White House deputy chief of staff's departure by holding the door closed. According to Kagen, he then said: "You're in the White House and you think you're safe. . . . My name's Dr. Multimillionaire and I kicked your ass."

The new congressman said he said separately to both Bush and Cheney: "Thank you for coming to Green Bay. I couldn't have won without you coming." Kagen also said he approached Laura Bush and purposely called her Barbara, the name of the president's mother. Kagen's remarks were reported in "The Scene," published in Appleton, Wis.

Granted nobody deserves it more than Rove, and I can understand Kagen's comments to Bush and Cheney, but deliberately insulting the President's wife is shameful. Not that I'm surprised. Here's what I wrote about Kagen in a post about his race last September:

...I've met and talked to Steve Kagen, and in my opinion he's an arrogant jerk. I'm not at all convinced he's anything close to being a progressive, and I think a lot of good Democrats in the 8th CD are in for a rude awakening.

Looks like I read Kagen pretty well. Unfortunately I suspect he's going to piss off a lot of people in a big hurry, and probably not just on the Republican side of the aisle. Going around deliberately making personal enemies is generally bad practice in politics.


Lindsey Lee said...

Hey Russ-Who knows what Steve Kagen said, but we should probably take anything that comes from Robert Novak as being highly suspect. said...

Did you call Dr. Kagen to confirm this information before helping to propagate it in the blogosphere or are you just working with the GOP to get the bashing out there?

Russell Wallace said...

Yes, I've verified the quotes through direct sources, although I haven't spoken to Kagen about them. My sources wish to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, but here's a link to a story in the Appleton Post-Standard that contains a couple of firsthand accounts:

Read the whole thing; at the bottom Kagen is quite disingenuous. My sources tell me that Kagen proudly tells these stories to just about anybody who will listen.

Both you guys should know that I'm pretty darn careful with statements of fact in my writings. I may speculate on things, and I don't always get it right when I do, but my facts are rock solid. Matter of pride for me.

proletariat said...

But did he really say those things. Sounds to me like one of those stories I tell my kids, strong on story telling weak on truth.

Personally, I think multimillionaires are trouble no matter what party they're from. I am told they're a few in the Republican Party too.

Lindsey Lee said...

Russ, I know you are very careful. It is Bob Novak that is suspect.

Reading the Post-Standard account it does seem that Kagen is discovering the difficulties that come with having no experience as a public officeholder and then playing in the big leagues.

I agree that Kagen might have been engaging in a "strong on story telling weak on truth" moment with his supporters.

While embarrassing, It does seem pretty minor though.

Russell Wallace said...

Kagen clearly made the comments; too many witnesses have come forward to make a denial plausible at this point, but there's no way to tell if the comments are true. But true or not Kagen looks bad. He put himself in a position where he's either a vindictive jerk or a liar, not exactly a smart thing to do.

I agree that this is probably a result of inexperience, and I hope he's a lot more careful in the future. My worry is that, given his personality, this incident may not be an anomaly, and that he may continue to have a difficult time conforming to the norms of political behavior.

If you read the subsequent interviews with Kagen, he's done a less than graceful job of dealing with things. A simple apology with the explanation that the intensity of the campaign clouded his judgment would have laid the whole thing to rest, but instead he's woven a complex and evolving net of partial confirmations, coy denials, and refusals to comment. It's kind of sad to watch. said...

That wouldn't have put it to rest. It would have added fuel to the fire.

If true, it was a blunder but it's not something that can't be overcome.

I agree with Lindsey. It's not a bad thing to have a little political experience before jumping into the big pond.