Thursday, March 16, 2006

I SEE FROM JANE HAMSHER'S POST TODAY that one of my senators here in New Jersey -- Robert Menendez -- is supporting Russ Feingold's censure resolution. I suppose that's one bright spot in this depressing spectacle of congressional Democrats running like terrified mice from the prospect of angering Republican leaders and losing votes back home by voting to censure a president whose approval rating is now at 33%.

So congratulations, Democrats. You avoided Republicans' anger and got Republicans' contempt instead. And I doubt that not having the guts or the loyalty to support Russ Feingold's resolution to censure Pres. Bush for breaking the law when most of them were more than willing to criticize the NSA spy program is going to do much to endear them to voters in their home states and districts. No one is going to vote for a bunch of cowards.

The Democratic leadership is truly disgusting -- spineless and almost totally lacking in the courage of their supposed convictions. I can't say this latest proof of that truth surprises me, though.

What does surprise me is some of the response among liberal and left-wing bloggers. Both Publius at Legal Fiction and Kevin Drum have come out saying the censure idea was a bad political move.

Publius thinks the "timing" is off -- that Feingold's resolution shifted everybody's attention away from news that was making Bush look bad; and that it left the Democrats "open to counterattack."

Kevin says he has no philosophical objection to censuring Bush, but questions Feingold's motives:

Anytime a congressman introduces a measure that's certain to fail, it's done for reasons of political theater: to make a point, to get some attention for an issue that's being ignored, or to reach out to some constituency or other. So the relevant question is: is this good political theater?

Nope, it isn't, Kevin concludes -- because Bush is already getting lots of bad press, because Feingold "didn't bother telling" his Democratic colleagues that he was preparing the resolution, and because it all just gives the Republicans a chance to laugh at the Democrats and make fun of them.

I'm disappointed in both of them. We don't need bloggers to act like the Democrats, who are such jellyfish that they measure everything by whether it will open them to Republican charges of being "soft on terror." (Do Republicans ever fear leaving themselves open to Democrats' charges of lying to get Americans to support an illegal and unjustified war, of robbing the national treasury to pay for that war, of breaking the law, of spying on Americans, of defying international human rights protocols, and of squandering the good will of the entire world?)

I really look for stronger stuff from my side of the blogosphere. Fortunately, there is still Glenn Greenwald:

Kevin's assurance that Democrats will lose is nice conventional wisdom (and the standard beginning premise for many Democrats), but it's actually completely baseless. If the public became convinced as part of the debate that is finally happening that the President broke the law and that such law-breaking is intolerable, does Kevin actually think that it's impossible to find 6 Republican Senators to vote for the Resolution? Congressional Republicans defied Bush on the port deal for only one reason: because public opinion demanded it.

If public opinion begins to move even more than it already has to the view that Bush broke the law, it is far from certain that the Censure Resolution will fail. As I've noted many times, polls showed for two consecutive years that the public thought Watergate was a meaningless scandal and Nixon's popularity remained sky high throughout those years. The arc of that scandal ended up changing only because tenacious politicians and journalists continued to pursue the story and the public finally became educated and angry about it. If Democrats had followed Kevin's advice in 1972, Richard Nixon would have retired as a popular two-term President.

But even if the Censure Resolution ultimately fails, the rationale for pursuing it is self-evident. Kevin frequently frets about (among other things) the fact that Democrats are perceived as being weak. The reason for that is because Democrats often are weak, precisely when they do things like abandon their own Senators and refuse to take a principled stand against a President who got caught breaking the law.

People like Kevin -- who believe that Democrats must "prove" to the country that they can be strong -- should most understand the value in having Democrats take a stand regardless of whether they ultimately prevail. Strong and resolute people fight. Weak and spineless people run away from fights -- or fight only when their victory is guaranteed in advance. The Democrats have been running away from fights for five years now based on the Kevin Drum theory that fights are only worth fighting if you know in advance that you will win. It is beyond irrational to think that the Democrats are going to look strong by simply crawling away meekly and allowing George Bush to break the law.

Anyone with doubts can just ask themselves: Who appears stronger and more resolute right about now -- Russ Feingold or the Democrats described by the Washington Post and New York Times as literally hiding behind each other to avoid reporters and beating a full "retreat"?

More strong, unequivocating analysis is at Liberal Oasis, Hullabaloo, and The Left Coaster.

1 comment:

Bob said...

One reason Mr. Feingold may have decided on a censure resolution is explained by the columnist Mr. Pitts in today’s Miami Herald.