Saturday, March 25, 2006

Russ Baker: 'Ganging up on Feingold'

"Was it my imagination, or did I see the ghost of Joe McCarthy heading into the RNC headquarters the other day? And was that the ghost of Don Knotts’s quivery TV persona holding court in the Senate Democratic cloakroom?

Only a conscienceless bully—like the one dissected in the movie “Good Night, and Good Luck,” about Edward R. Murrow’s television crusade against McCarthy’s serial abuse of the public trust—could have come up with the disgustingly misleading radio ads now attacking Sen. Russ Feingold. And only the chickenhearted—or those henpecked by consultants—would fail to back up this courageous figure.

Democratic senators were reportedly upset that Feingold didn’t notify them of his plan to introduce the censure resolution—and doubly wounded that he criticized them for “cowering with this president's numbers so low. The administration ... just has to raise the specter of the war on terror, and Democrats run and hide." Some of Feingold’s Democratic colleagues may also have resisted lining up behind the Wisconsin senator’s banner on this issue because they plan to compete with Feingold for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

The fact is, a Senate censure resolution would be a legitimate catalyst for discussion of the levels to which this administration has sunk in debasing democratic safeguards and process. It is not the same as impeachment, which must emanate from the House of Representatives. It is at once more attainable than impeachment and a strong symbolic reprimand.

Yet leading Democrats have started their customary throat-clearing exercise, saying that more time is needed to study the issue, and so forth. Even if that were true, allowing a censure resolution to advance need not preclude a serious Senate investigation of the truth behind the administration’s confusing justifications for ignoring the law in its domestic wiretap program. Indeed, with stonewalling by the GOP majority a given on almost any topic of import, a vote on a censure resolution that has garnered substantial public support may be the only way to force our representatives to do their jobs as watchdogs of the public interest.

Taking their cue from Welsh and Murrow, the Democrats should be airing their own radio ads—if not to back Feingold, then at least to inform the public about the RNC lies—and to take the liars and those behind them to task. If people understood the facts of the situation, they would be appalled—and furious at being manipulated in this manner. Instead, the Democrats are running from Feingold as if he had the avian flu."-from Baker's commentary on, via The Smirking Chimp.

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