Sunday, March 12, 2006


As you've probably heard, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Balls) is planning on introducing a measure to censure the president over his illegal wiretapping on Monday morning. He was on "This Week with George Snuffaluffagus" this morning touting the plan, and did an outstanding job of presenting this as a reasoned and requisite response to the president's law-breaking. As always, Crooks and Liars has the video.

Personally, I think this is a great idea. In terms of the politics, it's a smart way to go, since it navigates between the do-nothing attitude of Congress and the high-stakes gamble of impeachment. In a midterm year when Republicans are trying desperately to find a way to distance themselves from the increasingly unpopular president, this could gain some small traction on the other side of the aisle. Not enough to pass, probably, but enough to make the issue linger.

Furthermore, having this on the table will force moderate Republicans up for re-election in blue or purple states to make it clear whether they stand with the president or with the will of voters in their home state. Think about the predicament this would pose for Mike DeWine of Ohio (where Bush's approval is 37%), Jim Talent of Missouri (38%), Olympia Snowe in Maine (40%), and John Ensign of Nevada (40%). The hardest hit, of course, would be Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, a state where Bush is polling at an abysmal 29%. And on our side of the aisle, this could prove problematic for Joe Lieberman, who's facing a good primary challenge from his left by Ned Lamont, in a state where Bush is at 33%.

Also, at a basic level, introducing a motion to censure shifts the political news to the question of just how much the president broke the law and just how harsh his punishment should be. This is an incredibly strong countermeasure to the moderate Republicans who are trying to employ the Whittington Principle and rewrite the law so that the president can do whatever he wants. In fact, if pushed aggressively enough, the censure call helps lump them in with the president by showing that they're his enablers in his imperial ambition.

Update: Firedoglake suggests contacting your senator to get them on board, too. You can get their phone numbers and web contact forms here.

Update 2.0: Sen. Feingold was on the Soledad O'Brien Stupid Children Show this morning, and did an incredible job of beating back her list of GOP talking points. Crooks and Liars has the video and it's worth a look. My favorite part is watching her offer a first question that dismissed censure as a "kind of slap on the wrist" and then frame a second question around the idea of censure as "a very serious matter." What an utter airhead.


sideshow bob said...

I first voted for Russ back in 1992, and he has not sold out on any of his principles. (D-Balls) is right on.

Otto Man said...

I really hope Feingold makes a strong run in the primaries. Lord, that would be sweet.

Thrillhous said...

Man, that video is great. What's up with Soledad? She was all Fox at him, but he beat her back every time. She seemed to have a real problem deciding what she was saying. First she says there's lots of reasons to think the spying was legal, then she says that she didn't say that, that democrats were saying that. Whatever.

Otto Man said...

Ha, the Daily Show reran this last night and highlighted her 180 degree turn.