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Jeff Lindsay is an author of Conquering Innovation Fatigue. See for more info.
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Friday, January 12, 2007


Congressman Steve Kagen of Appleton and National Controversy over His White House Comments

Appleton is in the national spotlight this week because of some puzzling comments and actions from Representative Steven Kagen of the 8th District. Steven Kagen, a Democrat, is a medical doctor who replaced Republican Mark Green after the latter left Congress to run for Governor in 2006, losing to the incumbent, Jim Doyle. Now, in his first weeks in Congress, Kagen has gained national publicity for alleged rudeness to President Bush, Laura Bush, and Karl Rove at a White House reception.

In an interesting twist, the contested allegations came from Kagen himself, who boasted of his antics to a group of peace activists in Appleton in January 2007. He told the activists how he snubbed Karl Rove and the Bushes. But the White House denies that Steven Kagen did these things and calls his story ridiculous. Now he's backtracking from his comments. Rush Limbaugh and other talk show hosts picked up on the story.

While you can read about the story in The Post-Crescent or in news from WBAY, I suggest you go to the origin of the story, The Scene, a local publication that first reported Kagen's comments. Here's an excerpt from the article:
Kagen introduces a little levity to the White House

While meeting last month with a group of area peace activists, then Congressman-elect Steve Kagen told a story of his first visit to the White House that shows a feisty and humorous side to our new man in Congress. . . .

Upon arrival, he asks a Marine where he can find a rest room, and is sent down a long flight of stairs, to another Marine, who directs him to a rest room.

"It's a small room -- two spots on the wall, one stall one sink. I see in the mirror the door opens, and who walks in, Karl Rove (Bush's deputy chief of staff who was charged with orchestrating strategies for the 2006 general election)."

After Rove washed his hands ("At least he's a hand washer," Kagen said), he attempted to leave, but Kagen prevented his departure by holding the door closed and said, "You're in the White House and you think your safe, huh? You recognize me? My name's Dr. Multimillionaire and I kicked your a**." . . .

We get to the top of the steps and there's Vice President Cheney with a glass of white wine and a hand in his pocket. So I wasn't going to miss this opportunity. Gail wasn't there to hold me back. 'Mr. Vice President, thank you for your service to the nation, and thank you so much for coming to Green Bay and campaigning against me. I couldn't have won without your help.' . . .

Then we had an opportunity to take a picture with the president and his wife. I was feeling real good at this point.

"I said to my wife, 'Honey, just follow my lead.' She said, 'Steven, it's the president.' I said, 'Yeah, but he'’s not any taller than I am.' So the cameraman's here. We're introduced by a Marine. I said, 'Mr. President, thank you for coming to Green Bay. My name is Dr. Multimillionaire. That was before the race. Now they call me Doctor Thousandaire. I couldn't have won without you coming.'"

He said Bush gave one of his smiles and said, 'I've lost a lot of money in my life, too.' Then I go to his wife, 'Hi Barbara, how are ya?' I did that because I learned on the campaign that the meanest thing you can say to another gentlemen is, 'he's a fine fellow,' and you then refer to his spouse by a different name."

The White House has vigorously denied Kagen's story. They have said that there was no threat made in a restroom, no blocking of the restroom door, no calling Laura Bush by the wrong name.

Without wishing to be political here, let me say that as a supporter of civility and politeness, the story troubles me. It's bad enough for politicians to be rude to their opponents - understandable, yes, but unfortunate. It's worse to physically threaten opponents or to be rude to their spouses. But to think that someone would boast about such rudeness, or fabricate it and then boast about it - well, something's pretty wrong there. Dr. Kagen, a lot of fine people voted for you and are hoping that you'll represent Appleton and Wisconsin well. I hope you can make the appropriate apologies and move forward.
Where is Kagen from? New York?
Wow, I was so excited to find a blog about Appleton. Instead, I found a blog that you're using to make posts that are political and seem only to further conservative interests. How disappointing! Hopefully visitors from other places don't assume that the majority of people in Appleton think the way you do.

Look for Kagen to tell his side of the story on the Colbert Report in February!

Keep reading. I have read Jeff's blog off and on for some years now and this is the first political post I have seen here.

I was going to address Anonymous's faulty beliefs but will not do so. A blog that promotes Appleton posts one political blog in some number of years and Anonymous calls you a right-wing tool. Wow, I bite my tongue.
Jeff's positions on the Hmong people have looked pretty liberal to some of his readers. One Appleton politco does something embarrassing and Jeff comments - but this is hardly a right-wing tool. Jeff wasn't slamming any one party - just asking the good Doc to keep his face clean. He represents the whole community now.
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