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Politicians of all stripes have taken a bashing in the past few days but none more so than Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett last Saturday night.  The Democratic Mayor took his family to the Wisconsin State Fair in the Milwaukee suburb of West Allis and was returning to his car to drive back home when he witnessed a domestic dispute involving a baby, a young lady and an agitated young man.  Someone, likely the young lady, called "Call 911, Call 911" and the Mayor was in the process of responding to the woman's cries for help when the 20 year-old-man blindsided him, breaking his cell phone and knocking him to the ground.  Barrett didn't give up and rose and defended himself, breaking his right hand in the process as the mayor's punch was likely deflected by the assailant who had practiced boxing and martial arts. The assailant also used either a metal pipe or a metal police-type baton to beat Barrett, knocking out 3 teeth, cutting his face from the cheek to the nose, and hitting him over the head. The Mayor was not accompanied by security because it was a family outing made on the "spur of the moment" but one of his family called 911 and the West Allis police arrived scaring off the alleged assailant who was arrested the following day.  

Fortunately, Mayor Tom Barrett was quickly taken to a hospital, treated, hospitalized, and despite the severity of the beating, seems to be doing well now recovering at home.  Just recently Barrett, whose hand was operated on and who had plastic surgery on his face, gave a news conference outside his house talking about the encounter.  "Virtually any citizen in the city would have reacted in the same way," says the self-deprecating Barrett.  "When someone says call 911, you call 911".  "We're on the mend, and I just want you to know that I'm still standing" joked the Mayor (who appears not only to be extremely articulate but also possesses a keen sense of humor).  

Aside from the fact that here's a "feel good story" about a politician, no less, who acted as a hero at great personal expense (complimented even by President Obama in a nice "get well" call to the Mayor), this story may have more widespread political implications.  Note that I am writing this as an analyst and have no connections to anyone involved. Moreover,  neither the Mayor nor his party is making any such implications as found in the following. So this is purely my take. But just a few days before this incident, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, also a Democrat, announced he would not rerun for office in 2010.  Barrett, who has also served as a Congressman from the Milwaukee area for 10 years, had in 2002 contended for the Democratic nomination for the Governor and lost in a close race to Doyle, who has turned out to be a competent manager but not an inspirational or transformational leader even with Democratic majorities in both houses (sound familiar?).  

There is no question that this horrible attack has generated a lot of news and that news has all been favorable to Tom Barrett and his heroic action.  It can't but help Barrett, who has been a good friend of labor unions and average Americans, should he want to seek higher office.  At any rate, let's wish Tom Barrett a speedy and full recovery and thank him for his personal sacrifice.

NOTE:  Excellent coverage of this event, including video of the news conference, over at "Barrett Shrugs Off The Hero Label and Praises His Niece" at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel at:

UPDATE #1:  

Tom Barrett was first elected Milwaukee Mayor in 2004 with 54% of the vote.  He was relected in 2008 with 79% of the vote, the highest percentage win in more than 40 years.


Originally posted to fflambeau on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 09:58 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (20+ / 0-)

    "Tyranny & oppression are just as possible under democratic forms as under any other...democracy is a life & involves continual struggle." Robert LaFoll

    by fflambeau on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 09:58:55 PM PDT

  •  Hero (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Delilah, LordMike, PvtJarHead, Puddytat

    He may shrug off the label, but he is one. Thanks for calling attention to his brave and selfless act to help someone in trouble. I don't know much about his politics, but from what you've said, sounds like he would be a good leader for the people of Wisconsin. We definitely know he has the courage to take a stand.

    •  He's a liberal good guy (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vincent vega, fflambeau, PvtJarHead

      He spent some time in Congress before running for Mayor.  He'd be a great Governor!  I sure hope he runs.  And then I'd like to see him replace weak-kneed Kohl as Senator.

      Those who yell do so because their arguments are so weak they can only be supported by massive amounts of hot air. Sue, West Allis, Wisconsin

      by Puddytat on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:50:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You might have something there, Puddytat (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PvtJarHead, Puddytat

        Maybe he's not so interested in the governor's job because it's really, really tough, especially with the economic turndown.  Barrett would be an excellent compliment to Feingold; he sure knows the turf since he's spent 10 years in DC as a congressman.  Maybe that's the job he's really after in the long run.

        "Tyranny & oppression are just as possible under democratic forms as under any other...democracy is a life & involves continual struggle." Robert LaFoll

        by fflambeau on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 01:12:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I Like Barrett (5+ / 0-)

    He inherited quite a mess when he came in. As an Eastern transplant, I love it here, and it's guys like Barrett that make it easy to live here.

    Honestly, if the Democratic Party in Wisconsin gets a corpse to run for Governor, they have a good chance of beating Scott Walker on the Republican side. The feeling I get from a smattering of people I've talked to in the Democratic Party of Milwaukee is that Barrett is staying put as mayor for as long as he wants it.

    "The game's easy, Harry" - Richie Ashburn

    by jpspencer on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 10:47:50 PM PDT

    •  accomplishments? (0+ / 0-)

      Tom Barrett - nice guy, but not exactly ambitious. You say he makes it easy to live here.

      Why? what has he done?  What is the Barrett vision for the city (other than transportation issues, which is his strength).

      My Palin baby name: Claw Washout Palin

      by vincent vega on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 06:26:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sounds vaguely familiar :) nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "War is a Racket" - MajGen Smedley D. Butler, USMC(ret)

    by PvtJarHead on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 10:48:00 PM PDT

  •  I am from Wisconsin (5+ / 0-)

    And I hope Mayor Barrett does run. Wisconsin is a great blue state. We are progressive with a conservative underbelly. But it is not the religious irrational type of conservatism. Under the right leadership we could be leader in the Great Lakes region. If a GOP is elected it will be a backslide    

    Fresh for 20-09: Ronald Reagan most overrated POTUS ever.

    by krllos on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 10:48:46 PM PDT

    •  We're still cleaning up the pile of shit (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      that the 12 year Republican Governor (Tommy Thompson) left before he became the miserable head of Bush's joke of a Department of HHS.  Now Tommy heads a health care firm that continues to profit from denying care to its participants.

      The next governor is going to have a big load, although Doyle has tried and succeeded a bit (but has alienated a lot of his prior supporters).  Barrett would be a good fit for me.  

      To former (good riddance) Gov. Tommy Thompson:  Enjoy the millions you make off the bones of your sick and disabled victims, Tommy.  There's a special place in Hell for your ilk.  We hate you.

      Those who yell do so because their arguments are so weak they can only be supported by massive amounts of hot air. Sue, West Allis, Wisconsin

      by Puddytat on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:57:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But Thompson is a very slick politician, or at (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        least he used to be before he ran that dismal campaign for the presidency in 2008. I thought at that time that if he had positioned himself as a Republican moderate, he had a shot since everyone else was 20 miles to the right of Atilla the Hun.  

        I've met Tommy and have to admit he's slick in a room.  He could still cause waves of trouble if he wants to.

        "Tyranny & oppression are just as possible under democratic forms as under any other...democracy is a life & involves continual struggle." Robert LaFoll

        by fflambeau on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 01:14:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  He's a well funded Rethuglican pol (0+ / 0-)

          Typical Rethuglican when he's in office.  As far as he's concerned the cities can go Cheney themselves.  His concerns were typical Republican:  lower taxes for the well-heeled, transfer as much og the government into private hands as he could and corporate tax breaks.  

          Cities have huge problems which are different from the problems in rural areas, but he realized "his base" was rural and suburban and he made sure they were happy.  We lost a lot of shared revenues in Milwaukee and the Rethuglican County executive kept cutting services that helped poor people (county parks, bus service, health care) while the mayor had to scramble to keep necessary services going.  

          We hate Tommy.

          Those who yell do so because their arguments are so weak they can only be supported by massive amounts of hot air. Sue, West Allis, Wisconsin

          by Puddytat on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 12:59:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I was watching the morning news (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in Madison (WISC) and who should be on my screen but- Tommy Thompson.  He's making noises about running again.  Said he REALLY wanted to run against Doyle, but even with Doyle out, "I still have one campaign left in me".

    God (if there is one) please don't let Thompson run again!  I think he'd likely win again.  For some reason he's still very popular here in the Badger State.

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