From the AP Wisconsin News:
Sen. Russell Feingold's effort to censure President Bush is headed for the Senate Judiciary Committee, advancing a contentious debate over whether the president deserves a formal rebuke for his secret wiretapping program.
"I look forward to a full hearing, debate and vote in committee on this important matter," Feingold, D-Wis., said in a statement. "If the committee fails to consider the resolution expeditiously, I will ask that there be a vote in the full Senate." ***
Feingold's introduction of the five-page censure resolution set off maneuvering among his fellow Democrats to prevent a vote that could alienate swing voters.
Republicans savored the Democrats' discomfort. Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., pushed for an immediate floor vote; Democrats protested, saying they hadn't yet read the resolution. Several Democrats offered empathy for Feingold's frustration but no overt support for his resolution.
From Raw Story:
While mainstream media outlets have pounced on the fact that Democrats blocked an effort by one of their own to censure President Bush over his warrantless wiretapping program, RAW STORY has found that Senate Democratic offices are fuming. The proposal to censure the President was introduced on a Sunday talk show by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI).
Though all say they believe the program warrants "more investigation," several Senate aides rebuked Feingold for proposing censure. They say that his move had the potential to derail Democratic efforts to strengthen the party's image on homeland security issues, noting that a large part of the country believes the eavesdropping program should continue. Bush has defended the program, calling it a "terrorist surveillance" program, and has used aides to defend its legality.
Strikingly, some of the criticism came from liberal Senate offices.
One longtime Senate aide was particularly scathing.
“Feingold’s grandstanding screwed the pooch and played into Bill Frist’s hands," the aide said. "Thank God Dems punted this down the field. Frist was going to force Democrats to vote on a resolution Feingold had kept a big secret and he would’ve split the caucus on an issue that needed time to get the whole caucus to support. Russ Feingold had only one persons’ interests in mind with his Sunday bombshell, and those were his own. He practically handed a victory to a Bush White House that desperately needs a win.”
Feingold, defending his censure plan today on Fox News, said: “I’m amazed at Democrats, cowering with this president’s numbers so low. The administration just has to raise the specter of the war and the Democrats run and hide…too many Democrats are going to do the same thing they did in 2000 and 2004. In the face of this, they’ll say we’d better just focus on domestic issues…[Democrats shouldn’t] cower to the argument, that whatever you do, if you question administration, you’re helping the terrorists.” ***
Some aides were more supportive. One staffer said that the climate for censure was unclear, and that despite others' griping about the timing and approach, Democrats were still open to the idea.
“I don’t think people are unwilling" to support it, one Democratic Senate aide said. "I don’t think people are 100 percent yes. If you look at the comments of Senator Reid and other senators' comments, you can see that other people want further investigations. Nobody’s said no on censure except Joe Lieberman as far as I know.”
One aide said that some senators felt the move went "too far."
“I just think you know there’s was a concern among a number members of the caucus that this was going a little too far," the staffer remarked. "The majority of the American people agree with what the president’s doing. A lot of people outside the beltway see this as a tool that’s keeping Americans safe."
The aide added that some members have concerns that backing censure would hurt Democrats’ image on national security.
Let's step back and recap briefly:
1. That unnamed Senate staffer who said "The majority of the American people agree with what the president’s doing" is a dangerous, incompetent, unaware ignoramus. The majority of the American people DON'T agree with warrantless wiretaps and think the President should be impeached if he authorized them. All the Democrats need to do to get overwhelming public support is frame the issue correctly: we're not against wiretapping potential terrorists, we just want it done within the bounds of the law. The People agree with that, and the Republicans don't. Easy win.
2. Feingold's not calling for impeachment, just censure. That should be a no-brainer.
3. There WILL BE NO HEARINGS IN THE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE. The Republicans squelched that. Any Senator or Senate staffer who doesn't understand that should be thrown on his ear.
The good news is, this buys us time to lobby our senators and get them behind the resolution. It also keeps it on the media burner for a longer time. And it lets us get back to the Roots Project effort to lobby key members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to do the right thing. We can work with this, and we will. Stay tuned.
UPDATE, 2:25 PM PT: A gem from Glenn Greenwald: "if Democrats want to be perceived as strong, and if they want to lose the albatross of being pereceived as weak, what they have to do is extremely simple and clear -- stop being weak and be strong."
UPDATE, 2:40 PM PT: CONTACT SENATOR FEINGOLD AND LEND HIM YOUR SUPPORT HERE:
Feingold, Russell (D-WI)
Senate switchboard, toll-free: 888-355-3588
Feingold D.C. office direct line: (202) 224-5323
Middleton office telephone: (608) 828-1200
Milwaukee office telephone: (414) 276-7282
La Crosse office telephone: (608) 782-5585
Wausau office telephone: (715) 848-5660
Green Bay office telephone: (920) 465-7508
Tone Devices for the Deaf (TDD):
D.C. office TDD (202) 224-1280
Middleton office TDD (608) 828-1215
D.C. Fax (202) 224-2725
Middleton fax: (608) 828-1203
Milwaukee fax: (414) 276-7284
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