Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Feingold with the fringe on top

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Howard Kurz writes in the Washington Post, “One thing is clear about Russ Feingold’s move to censure President Bush: Republicans love it and Democrats hate it.”

Rarely has a maneuver with as much chance of passing as Barry Bonds hitting 73 homers without steroids sparked such a reaction. Feingold’s own party wishes the thing would just go away, while the other party would enjoy talking about it for days on end, which is why Bill Frist tried to call a vote on it, only to be blocked by the Dems.

This, of course, does not reflect the parties’ true feelings about the underlying issue. Most Democrats believe Bush probably did break the law in approving warrantless eavesdropping, and most Republicans think the president acted properly. But the proposed censure–a word we haven’t heard since some Dems were pushing it as an alternative to impeaching Clinton–is scary to most senators with D after their names, many of whom have been ducking reporters or hemming and hawing as a way to avoid commenting.

Plus, why take the political heat if the resolution is certain to go down in flames? Some folks are into the politics of symbolism, but that group generally doesn’t include those who have to run for reelection (unless it’s cheap, no-risk symbolism, in which case everyone is happy to indulge).

Meanwhile, Democrats continue to run from the fringe Junior Senator from Wisconsin. Senator Mark Dayton of Minnesota:

“It’s an overreaching step by someone who is grandstanding and running for president at the expense of his own party and his own country,” Dayton said of Feingold, a Wisconsin senator and potential 2008 presidential candidate.

“I think it’s a very dangerous territory for the democracy that we have in this country to be playing around with those kinds of resolutions, without any consultations from his colleagues. I think it was irresponsible.”
Dayton, who has been one of Bush’s harshest critics, said he and his Democratic colleagues were “blindsided” by Feingold’s proposal, made on ABC News on Sunday.

“For somebody who wants to lead our party and our nation, I think consultation and forewarning is a prerequisite to that kind of leadership,” he said.

It’s a pity Dayton didn’t say, “Has he no shame?”

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