Guest blogged from DC by Margie Burns
Listening to Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) for fifteen minutes is worth a week of the para-discourse from elsewhere on national television. Feingold said on Meet the Press this morning that he will introduce a resolution to censure George W. Bush “in a few days.”
The censure resolutions will focus on two huge issues:
• Bush's process for getting us into the war in Iraq, including misleading statements and misuse of intelligence before the war; and
• “the outrageous attack on the rule of law,” including illicit electronic surveillance and other surveillance, and administration approval of torture. “This administration has assaulted the constitution,” Feingold said briskly.
Feingold said that he has talked with the Democratic leadership about the resolution, adding that it might provide an opportunity as well for Republicans uncomfortable with the administration but unwilling to use impeachment.
Questioned by Tim Russert about whether the resolution would pass, Feingold said basically we’ll see how it goes. He commented, “There’s a lot of support in the country for actually impeaching the president and the vice president.”...
He characterized the resolution as a reasonable and moderate measure, to avoid tying the Senate and the House up for months in an impeachment trial.
When Russert asked whether the president would be the only person censured, Feingold said that Dick Cheney was obviously equally culpable on Iraq and might be included. “Vice President Cheney has been one of the worst actors in American history in this situation” – the war – Feingold said. And maybe Attorney General Gonzales would have to be included on the issue of the rule of law.
“But obviously, the buck stops with the president.”
Clear, crisp and bold – everything we lack in the public discourse on our most important topics, most of the time, from most of our public figures allowed air time by the arbiters of the air waves.
To hear the difference between statements actually worth hearing, and what passes for political commentary in the nation’s capital, turn to (picking a random example) Chris Matthews on any given Sunday morning. If Matthews has any claim to be playing ‘hardball’ on his MSNBC program of that name, he’s not even making the claim on NBC’s Chris Matthews show. And rightly not.
This morning, he and panelists chewed over the non-proposition, ‘how can Republican candidates for president successfully handle the unpopularity of Bush and the Iraq war?’ – Short answer: they can’t. – or mostly not: Matthews kept the topic in tight rein by NOT mentioning Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX), the only GOP member of Congress who has taken a principled stand against the Iraq War from the first.
For the record, anyone who talks about an ‘exit strategy’ for Iraq is engaging in para-discourse. Strategic retreat is always difficult, but that doesn’t make it impossible – much less unnecessary – or something to be postponed. As Feingold answered when Russert asked him about a possibility of “cataclysmic violence” if we leave Iraq, “We now have cataclysmic violence.”
Feingold added that “right now, we’re holding the bag in Iraq.” If we leave, things might get worse or they might get better, but either way, other nations in the region would be better positioned to effect change without the provocation of US presence in Iraq.
With the ‘situation’ in Iraq (EUPHEMISM ALERT) worsening by the week, America’s presence an inducement to guerrilla attacks, and a cost of $60B for the US just in the six months of the so-called ‘surge,’ much of the nation is by now pretty well aware of what’s happening. Even mild-mannered Olympia Snowe (R-ME), appearing on Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer, lamented that “the Senate is not reflecting the will of the American people.”
Yet self-proclaimed media honchos in the nation’s capital still persist in talking as though America were majority PNAC.
Same with other topics besides Iraq. For my money, the suspiciously early emphasis on election 2008, partly caused by the Democrats’ inept front-loading of the 2008 primary calendar, is mainly a way of keeping impeachment and election fraud off the table, or off the big board. Yet Matthews et al. persist in discussing Election 2008 as though it were day after tomorrow, and as though there's nothing unusual about that.
They also frame discussion of “Hillary” in terms of whether ‘a woman’ can run for president or can win the White House, with some narrow political wrangling over perceptions of “Bill.” Much talk about whether ‘a woman’ can be perceived as ‘tough’.
Not said: the operative words about the Clintons’ backstory: Squalid. Sordid. Went along with the War on Iraq until it became overwhelmingly unpopular, then began a foot-dragging rear-guard action to retain a little credibility on the war, while keeping the war itself going. Went along with administration justifications for torture. Went along with administration stonewalling on Abu Ghraib, Pat Tillman, and Jessica Lynch. Went along with illicit surveillance.
The same superficial psychobabble gets applied to Elections 2000 and 2004. NBC’s David Gregory asserted today that “George Bush is president because Americans thought he’d be tougher in the age of terror.”
Wrong. GWBush is president not because of ‘toughness’ but because of Ohio and other states' scandalous lack of proper vote counting, throwing the election to the loser again. But election fraud – a cause of first importance to Americans along with impeachment and ending the war in Iraq – is being sidelined by our fishyfishy early ‘election’ season for 2008.
I realize that probably one reason the estimable Senator Feingold doesn’t get more air play, BTW, is that he happens to be goodlooking and a divorced officeholder as well as someone of ability and someone who tries to do good things on occasion. Prominent media personalities tend to shy away from that kind of combination. Tough. Stiff upper lip, guys. If you restrict air time for individuals saying exactly what needs to be said, you’ll lose even more credibility as journalists, assuming that’s possible.
I personally support impeachment of both Bush and Cheney, because I think it essential to the integrity of the nation. Also, we need the legal process of discovery that would come with impeachment. But an officeholder of Feingold's caliber who supports censure has a good chance of seeing it through. If the Senate lacks the two-thirds vote to convict, and the House lacks the stomach to impeach in the first place and neither can handle even this restrained move against the administration, then that Congress may find itself in different hands, yet again, in 2008.