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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Olson to District 8: Don't Mess with My Wife

Senator Russell Olson (R-8/Madison) takes a little while to get going in his latest Legislative Update. He plays Tony Dean in his first paragraph (pheasants! geese! "...the final colors of the sun light up the ice..."!), muses over family life, TV, and the joy of crackerbarrels, and then finally gets to actual issues four paragraphs in.

Even as he digs into his stance against the smoking ban, Olson veers into another personal tangent... although this one has a reasonable point:

I am troubled by my friends and constituents who don’t agree with me who feel it necessary to give my wife an ear full on this subject. Jennie doesn’t get to place that vote, I do. She works as a nurse at the Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls and at the Interlakes Medical Center in Madison. She understands the medical rationale against smoking and would, if she were in the position to do so, vote for the ban. You wouldn’t stop at the playground during recess and bawl my kids out for my vote. They have as much to do with how I vote as Jennie does on this issue. I encourage feedback, but please, direct it to me and not my family [State Senator Russell Olson, legislative update, 2009.02.22]

Now I don't know just what those earfuls Jennie's been catching have consisted of. I can imagine that if I worked in health care, I'd be keenly interested in the smoking ban. If one of my co-workers in that health care setting were married to public figure opposing such legislation, it would probably be a natural topic of conversation to ask, "What the heck is he thinking?"

At which point, if she said, "My husband does his job; I do mine. You'll have to talk to him," I'd let it rest. If she invites further conversation, great. Otherwise, back to work.

Russ is right: he's the Senator, he casts the votes, and he has to answer for those votes. People can certainly ask Jennie if they see her, but they shouldn't expect her to act as the senator's secretary or message service and definitely not punching bag. Jennie shouldn't have to answer for Russ's bad legislative decisions any more than my lovely wife should have to answer for my cranky blog posts. Russ and I both have plenty of channels of communication available for feedback and bawlings out.

Besides, I hear Jennie comes from Democrat stock, so the in-laws are probably working on Russ already.

1 comment:

  1. Russell's a big boy. He can take our criticism directly rather than passing comments on to his spouse or kids. In fact, I'm sure he wants to hear from those who disagree as well as agree. That's how he determines how we feel. I've contacted Russell many times on issues and while we don't always agree, he has been a good listener and always lets me know why he feels and votes the way he does on certain issues. In fact, the only comment anyone should make to a legislator's spouse or kids is, "tell them thank you for serving and spending time away from his/her family."


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