Monday, April 03, 2006

Feingold: Less Debate, More Politics

Russ Feingold's (D-WI) appearance on Fox News Sunday (transcript courtesy RealClearPolitics) was one that, from his perspective, was best avoided. Feingold was posed some tough questions about his censure proposal, and his unfortunate comparison of Bush to Richard Nixon, but he managed to dodge each of Chris Wallance's questions, showing that his focus was less about the issue's substance, than the politics surrounding it.

Feingold couldn't seem to understand that nobody needs to be punished when the President and the Congress have a disagreement over the interpretation of the law and powers granted to the president to fight terror. He couldn't get past the fact that Bush briefed members of Congress, the Senate, and the Intelligence Committees of both houses before doing anything. He also seemed eager to equate a program designed to protect Americans from terrorist attacks with Nixon's Watergate break ins and the list of enemies he intended to punish for sedition. But when asked about how much he knew about the program, Feingold indicated that he had not yet received a full briefing on the matter that Rep. Jane Harmon (D-OH) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) had, leading them both to laud its merits. In other words, Feingold is not allowing the facts to get in the way of the politics of this censure effort.

But more to the point, he allowed a tiny little Freudian slip to get out, revealing what this whole thing is about:

FEINGOLD: [snip] We have a terrible problem that we have a Republican president and two houses of Congress run by the Republicans, who are intimidated by this White House, even to the point of not standing up for the right of Congress...

WALLACE: But Senator, and we're running out of time...

WALLACE: ... you make that sound like it's a coup. I mean, that's the result of the election. Elections have implications.

FEINGOLD: Well, there's nothing wrong with it from the point of view it was inappropriate. It's just that maybe the country wants to turn this here to a little more balanced government, where you have at least one house of Congress saying, Mr. President, you can't just make up the law.
What the Senator meant to say was, "Elections aren't so bad when they result in Democrat wins." And as Michael Barone will tell you, the best evidence of what the electorate wants can be seen in the most recent election data. And a Democrat House or Senate isn't it.

But tell that to Feingold who is using this as free press for 2008. It gets him on TV, gets him recognized for Iowa, which is very near Wisconsin, and much closer than Chappaqua, New York or Little Rock, Arkansas (whichever), and may make him a contender for the Democratic Party's nomination for president. The only thing that Feingold didn't consider was that authoring a censure resolution and then stating on national TV that he doesn't have all the facts as did his colleagues who praised the program, makes him look stupid.

But I stand with the Senator in hoping that he does get his vote on the resolution. And I pray that other Democratic Senators in tight races in 2006 vote for it, believing that it will help them in the general election.


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