How ’bout that Russ Feingold? The Wisconsin Democrat – one of the courageous few in the US Senate who voted against Bush’s war resolution – takes the ballsy step of introducing a measure to censure the Resident for his illegal activities in office. Real moxie, I love to see that in an opposition party. Republicans, naturally, react with outrage, calling Feingold “crazy” and whatnot. Dems, on the other hand, do what they do best – they cower.
When Feingold introduced a motion for censure, Democrats collectively gulped, according to the Washington Post:
“I haven’t read it,” demurred Barack Obama (Ill.).
“I just don’t have enough information,” protested Ben Nelson (Neb.). “I really can’t right now,” John Kerry (Mass.) said as he hurried past a knot of reporters — an excuse that fell apart when Kerry was forced into an awkward wait as Capitol Police stopped an aide at the magnetometer.
Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) brushed past the press pack, shaking her head and waving her hand over her shoulder. When an errant food cart blocked her entrance to the meeting room, she tried to hide from reporters behind the 4-foot-11 Barbara Mikulski (Md.).
“Ask her after lunch,” offered Clinton’s spokesman, Philippe Reines. But Clinton, with most of her colleagues, fled the lunch out a back door as if escaping a fire.
In a sense, they were. The cause of so much evasion was S. Res. 398, the resolution proposed Monday by Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) calling for the censure of President Bush for his warrantless wiretapping program. At a time when Democrats had Bush on the ropes over Iraq, the budget and port security, Feingold single-handedly turned the debate back to an issue where Bush has the advantage — and drove another wedge through his party.
So nonplused were Democrats that even Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), known for his near-daily news conferences, made history by declaring, “I’m not going to comment.” Would he have a comment later? “I dunno,” the suddenly shy senator said.
Republicans agreed to put the matter to an immediate vote. Democrats, insisting that Feingold’s measure deserved more than a “hasty vote,” blocked the GOP call. This sends the plan to the Senate Judiciary Committee, but some believe the move will end up being the bill’s demise.
From the Washington Post:
Feingold’s resolution, formally introduced Monday, would censure Bush for approving an “illegal program to spy on American citizens on American soil.” The senator’s intention was to refer the matter to the Judiciary Committee for hearings and a vote before consideration by the full Senate. Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) tried to force an immediate vote, to put the Democrats on the spot, but Democratic leaders objected, and for now the censure measure appears to be stalled.
From the New York Times:
Democrats, while distancing themselves from Mr. Feingold’s assertion that the president “plainly broke the law” in approving surveillance without warrants, said his proposal merited more consideration than a hasty vote.
“To try to limit debate on this most important matter that Senator Feingold is going to put before the Senate is not appropriate,” said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the minority leader.
Democrats’ hesitancy was a sign they remained reluctant to challenge Mr. Bush on some national security questions even as he was struggling in public opinion polls and set back on the transfer of some American port operations to an Arab company. Though polls on surveillance are mixed, Republicans say the public generally backs the idea of eavesdropping on people suspected of being in contact with terror suspects.
Feingold himself is pointing fingers at members of his party: “Democrats run and hide” when the administration invokes the war on terrorism, Feingold told reporters. Speaking with Fox News, Feingold said, “I’m amazed at Democrats, cowering with this president’s numbers so low. The administration just has to raise the specter of the war and the Democrats run and hide… Too many Democrats are going to do the same thing they did in 2000 and 2004. In the face of this, they’ll say we’d better just focus on domestic issues… [Democrats shouldn’t] cower to the argument, that whatever you do, if you question the administration, you’re helping the terrorists.”
Right on, Russ, but I’m not amazed at the sight of simpering Democrats who are terrified of pissing off the GOP. Not one bit. Historically, it’s how DINOs have performed since at least the Clinton years. The GOPsters call the tune and too many Democrats, seeing the possibility of success only in appearing as centrist and right-leaning as possible, dance like Fred Astaire. Why did so many Democrats vote for the war resolution to begin with? Why is it unacceptable to speak about marriage equality in mainstream Democratic circles? Why are so many supposedly people-focused pols voting in favor of civil-liberties violations and giving serious consideration to measures that benefit the rich and cripple the poor? It’s because DINOs are running the Democratic Party show. When a Democrat like Russ Feingold does something that a real Democrat could-should-would do, DINOs turn on him. When they are called upon to legislate like true Democrats, they cower and cave.
Call on lawmakers to stand with Feingold and to censure Bush. You can reach them by phone via the Congressional Switchboard, 202-224-3121. And support true Democratic candidates like Dr. Chuck Pennacchio of Pennsylvania. Change won’t happen until we take action. Just do it: Ditch the DINOs.