Tag Archives: Brian Nemoir

Tommy Thompson is an unfortunate relic

Tommy Thompson’s U.S. Senate campaign recently reminded us how far behind the curve he really is.

Senior political adviser Brian Nemoir disseminated a tweet from the Thompson campaign linking to a video showing Democratic rival Tammy Baldwin dancing at a 2010 Pride event. “Clearly, there’s no one better positioned to talk ‘heartland values’ than Tammy,” Nemoir wrote in an email, implying that being gay is inconsistent with having values.

Thompson refused to address the incident for six days, until pressed by reporters. Then he said Nemoir had been shifted to another position, saying it was a less public role. But that same night, Nemoir sent out emails from Thompson’s campaign account under his original title.

During Thompson’s heyday, the press would have ignored such an incident, just as the press looked the other way for years at his personal indiscretions. He looked like a deer in the headlights when confronted about it.

The episode was reminiscent of Thompson’s appearance before a conference of Reform Jews a few years ago, when he congratulated the audience on their success at making money. He was astounded later to learn the listeners were not flattered at being stereotyped in a way that’s been used to persecute them.

The only area where Thompson’s sensibilities intersect with today’s politics is in the Republicans’ worship of mega wealth. After leaving George W. Bush’s administration, where he served as Secretary of Health and Human Services, he cashed in shamelessly on his political connections and is $13 million richer as a  result. Among other things, he lobbied for changes in Medicare to benefit companies in which he had a financial stake – to the detriment of seniors.

For most of Thompson’s gubernatorial tenure, the nation enjoyed a prolonged period of economic growth. He took credit for job creation that he had little or nothing to do with, but he never explained the huge budget deficit he left behind.

Blustery and gaffe-prone, Thompson demonstrates a troubling lack of vision or purpose. His idea of leadership is strictly partisan – grandstanding rather than moving the nation forward. “The truth of the matter is I’m not going to compromise,” he said at a June Tea Party event in Oconomowoc.

At a recent appearance before the Rotary Club of Milwaukee, he described himself as a moderate at some times, a conservative at others. He bragged at length about being the first Bush cabinet member to visit Ground Zero after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, as if it was a reason to vote for him. In answering questions from the audience, he expressed agreement with key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which he opposes.

Thompson’s plan to reduce the U.S. budget deficit would increase it over the next decade by providing big tax cuts for the wealthy. He believes that allowing the uber rich to bring money they’ve sheltered overseas back home tax-free would stimulate job growth. That’s just another trickle-down fairy tale that would benefit only him and his friends. It was discredited long ago as an effective economic stimulator.

Thompson is a relic from a bygone era of politics. If elected, his style would be a distraction and an embarrassment that would harm the state. He has nothing to offer a nation that has real problems except for a pat on the back and a few empty boasts.

Dems call on Thompson to fire senior adviser who gay-baited Tammy Baldwin

Democrats are calling on GOP U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson to fire his campaign’s senior communications adviser more than a week after he sent out messages attacking rival Tammy Baldwin’s “heartland values” because of her sexual orientation.

After refusing to address the matter for six days, Thompson denounced the actions of Brian Nemoir on Sept. 11 following a speech to the Rotary Club of Milwaukee. He told reporters that Nemoir had been shuffled to another role with his campaign, implying that it was a lesser – and less public – role.

But last night, Nemoir sent out e-mails negotiating debates for Thompson under the title of “senior advisor/communications” for the former governor’s campaign, showing that his role had not changed.

Thompson also told reporters that Nemoir had apologized, but he actually told the media that he stands by his attacks on Baldwin, who would become the first out gay person ever elected to the U.S. Senate if she wins.

“Thompson needs to start telling the truth and he needs to show Brian Nemoir the door,” said Democratic Party of Wisconsin chairman Mike Tate in a prepared statement. “Today we are calling on Tommy Thompson to do the right thing and take responsibility for his divisive campaign and reject the personal attacks that are out of touch with our Wisconsin values.

“It is time to hold him accountable for his record, the positions he takes and what his campaign does and says. If Tommy Thompson is afraid of standing up to his own political handlers then what makes anyone believe he will stand up for us in Wisconsin.”

During the Bush era, Republicans frequently gay-baited opponents who supported equality in an attempt to drive their hardline Christian fundamentalist base to the polls. Tate said he believed Nemoir’s attack on Baldwin reflects this divisive style of campaigning.

YouTube video shows a drunk Tommy Thompson addressing Packers fans

Pressed by reporters yesterday, U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson said he was upset that his campaign’s political director had attacked opponent Tammy Baldwin over her sexual orientation.

On the day that Baldwin was scheduled to address the Democratic National Convention about heartland values, Thompson’s senior campaign adviser Brian Nemoir sent out a Tweet linking to a YouTube video of Baldwin dancing on stage at an August 2010 Pride event in Madison. In an accompanying e-mail, Nemoir wrote, “clearly, there’s no one better positioned to talk ‘heartland values’ than Tammy.”

Following a lunchtime address to members of the Rotary Club of Milwaukee yesterday, Thompson condemned his campaign’s attack on Baldwin, who would become the first openly gay person ever elected to the Senate if she wins in November.

Before reporters confronted him on the incident, the Thompson campaign had refused to address Nemoir’s actions. Although he condemned those actions yesterday under pressure, Thompson also acknowledged that he had not dismissed Nemoir from his campaign. The former governor said he had shifted Nemoir to a different, undisclosed position.

With Thompson’s hypocrisy on this insulting incident in mind, we offer readers this YouTube link to a video of a clearly inebriated Tommy Thompson addressing Packers fans at Lambeau Field in 1998.

Thompson expresses regret over aide’s gay-baiting of Tammy Baldwin

U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson made a blustery apology today on behalf of his campaign’s political director, who disseminated messages last week gay-baiting Democratic opponent Tammy Baldwin and implying that her participation in a Madison gay Pride event showed she was out-of-touch with “heartland values.”

Brian Nemoir sent out a Tweet linking to a video of Baldwin dancing on stage at an August 2010 Pride event held on Library Mall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. In an e-mail, he wrote, “clearly, there’s no one better positioned to talk ‘heartland values’ than Tammy.”

Nemoir’s messages coincided with Baldwin’s speech on heartland values at Democratic National Convention.

If she beats Thompson, Baldwin would become the first openly gay person ever elected to the U.S. Senate and the first woman ever elected to the Senate from Wisconsin.

“To me, (sexual orientation) is absolutely not an issue,” Thompson told reporters who asked him about the incident following his speech at a Rotary Club of Milwaukee luncheon. The former governor added that he was “very upset” about Nemoir’s action.

But Thompson said the Nemoir still remained a part of his campaign staff, although he declined to say in what capacity.

Asked if his campaign’s volley against Baldwin’s sexual orientation signals that his personal life is also fair game for public scrutiny, Thompson abruptly ended the short face-off with reporters and was led away by campaign spokesperson Lisa Boothe. Rumors of Thompson’s extramarital affairs have swirled among Madison poltical insiders for years.

Although Thompson told reporters today that sexual orientation is not an issue, he consistently opposed equality throughout his four terms as governor and during his stint as Secretary of Health and Human Services under former President George W. Bush.

Thompson eliminated former Gov. Tony Earl’s Council on Lesbian and Gay Issues during his first term as governor. During a 2009 Republican primary presidential debate, he said it should be legal to fire employees based on their sexual orientation.

In 2006, Thompson refused to join a coalition of former governors who opposed amending the state Constitution to ban legal recognition of same-sex marriages and civil unions.

During his rambling, off-the-cuff speech before Rotary Club members, Thompson attempted to reverse the hardline, right-wing positioning he assumed during the Republican primary for Senate. Today, Thompson described himself as a “moderate conservative” who believes in working cooperatively with the other side of the aisle.

Thompson blamed the process of redistricting, the once-a-decade redrawing of political district boundaries by the party in power based on U.S. Census numbers, for forcing him and other Republicans to run further to the right – and Democrats further to the left – during primaries by creating districts that are hyper-partisan.

In his brief interaction with reporters following his speech, however, Thompson backtracked and declared himself a conservative again.

Embroidering his speech with folksy humor, Thompson frequently referred to himself in the third person in a presentation that relied on personality rather than policies or facts. Thompson offered few policy proposals – and no new ones.

Thompson said investors who’ve sheltered their money in offshore accounts should be able to bring their cash back to the United States tax-free. He claimed eliminating the 35-percent tax on sheltered earnings would stimulate investment in new business development.

Echoing the Tea Party slogan “drill, baby, drill,” Thompson urged the nation to develop energy independence by drilling for oil in the Arctic, developing the Keystone Pipeline and converting trucks from diesel fuel to natural gas. He never once mentioned alternative or renewable energy resources.

“We have never a national energy policy,” Thompson claimed.

Thompson paid tribute to the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, depicting himself as a hero of that day. As Secretary of Health and Human Services at the time, he said that he refused Vice President Dick Cheney’s orders to leave his office and seek shelter. Thompson said he insisted on remaining on the job despite peril so that he could  help New Yorkers respond to the emergency.

“I declared a national health emergency … nobody’s ever done that,” Thompson declared in one of many dubious claims he made throughout his speech.

“New York had serious problems,” he said, adding that he was the first cabinet secretary to visit the scene of the catastrophe.

Rotary Club members asked several questions about Thompson’s position on health care reform. Although he vowed to overturn “Obamacare,” the former governor expressed agreement with many of the policies it contains, including its ban on denying insurance based on pre-existing conditions and its linkage of doctor’s pay with health outcomes rather than the number of procedures performed (although he seemed unaware of the latter aspect of the Affordable Health Care Act).

His source of disagreement with the AFA seemed to be only its mandate that all Americans purchase insurance, which experts say is the only way to make national health care affordable.

“This is America, we don’t mandate anything,” Thompson said, despite the existence court-upheld mandates on everything from paying income taxes to limiting the amount of crops someone can grow on their own land for their own consumption.

“If you want to deal with health care, you elect Tommy Thompson, ’cause he knows what’s going on,” Thompson vowed.

On the Web: Sign a petition calling on the Thompson campaign to stop its personal attacks.