Jesus H. Jehosaphat, what sissies our leaders are.
From the A.P., via CBS:
Democrats distanced themselves Monday from Wisconsin Sen. Russell Feingold's effort to censure President Bush over domestic spying.
The White House hit back at the same time, Vice President Dick Cheney telling a fundraiser in Feingold's home state that the resolution was an "outrageous proposition."
As the crowd in De Pere, Wis., booed Feingold's effort, Cheney said, "Don't hold back."
Feingold's fellow Democrats did just that Monday, with several saying they wanted first to see the Senate Intelligence Committee finish an investigation of the warrantless wiretapping program that Bush authorized as part of his war on terrorism.
Asked at a news conference whether he would vote for the censure resolution, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada declined to endorse it and said he hadn't read it.
Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., said he had not read it either and wasn't inclined simply to scold the president.
"I'd prefer to see us solve the problem," Lieberman told reporters.
Across the Capitol, reaction was similar. Feingold's resolution drew empathy but no outright support from Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. ***
Cheney dared other Democrats to support Feingold's resolution.
"The outrageous proposition that we ought to protect our enemies' ability to communicate as it plots against America poses a key test of our Democratic leaders," he said. "Do they support the extreme and counterproductive antics of a few or do they support a lawful program vital to the security of this nation?
"The American people already made their decision," Cheney added. "They agree with the president."
Democratic Senators "wanted first to see the Senate Intelligence Committee finish an investigation of the warrantless wiretapping program"?!? What newspapers have they been reading? There WILL BE NO Senate Intelligence Committee investigation of the program -- that's the point!
The American people, no matter what lies Cheney tells, do not support the NSA program without warrants. The majority think even the President must operate within the law, even when surveilling terrorists. They just want someone, anyone, in power to stand up and say so, and they will rally overwhelmingly to that person. But that person in nowhere to be found in our Congressional leadership.
Triangulate, tremble, triangulate, tremble. This should have been a 100%-Democrat-supported resolution. The American people would have applauded. Instead, we've given our lunch money to the bullies once again, hoping to appease them so they won't ask for it again tomorrow.
It's time for a change at the top, and I'm not talking about the White House (yet). Reid needs to step aside and let Barbara Boxer take over as House Minority Leader. And Pelosi? I used to like Pelosi, but if she can't even find the backbone to support a mere censure, for God's sake, then we need to find someone who does.
UPDATE, 2:53 PM PT: A staffer in Harry Reid's office just told me he was unaware of any statement by Senator Reid, and that he doubted the truth of any reports that the Senate Minority Leader was not supporting Feingold's resolution.
Let's hope he's right. Sen. Reid likes the "Give 'Em Hell, Harry" moniker, but he needs to earn it. His recent history has been far from firebreathing -- among other things, he failed to call for party discipline on the Alito votes, and he never followed up meaningfully on his brief effort to resurrent Phase II of the Iraq Intelligence hearings. We need a true opposition party, led by a firebrand. Let's see whether Senator Reid is it.
UPDATE, 3:25 PM PT: Jane Hamsher at firedoglake reports that while Frist tried to hold a vote on the censure motion tonight, before Feingold could muster support for it, Feingold managed to delay the vote until the day after tomorrow. That means we still have time to lean, HARD, on every Democratic senator. I will post contact information, and real-time position reports, as soon as I am able. KEEP THE PRESSURE ON. Everything you need to know here.
UPDATE, 5:53 PM PT: Positive news: Pow Wow at firedoglake reports in a comment that Reid told Ed Schultz today he WOULD support Feingold's resolution. It sounds like it's still secondhand news, but if true, it's great and will make me eat many of my words. I'll confirm with Reid's office first thing tomorrow and report back here. Also, the story of how Dems defeated Frist's effort to hold an early vote on the censure resolution can be found here.
UPDATE, 7:01 PM PT: File this under the "Don't Get Mad, Get Even" heading: from a conservative website that I don't want to send hits to:
It’s tough being a lefty. The poor bastards who spent all day “calling their Senators” over at “Fire Dog Lake” must be almost apoplectic at the ineffectuality of the move. Not only is the there a horrible “air escaping from a balloon” sound coming from the direction of Washington, the media’s barely covering this silliness.... See? The Democrats feel your pain - they just don’t want to actually put their votes behind it. Next time, FireDogLakers, don’t call ‘em. Fedex them some Viagra instead.
Two responses: (a) He's right; our representatives need moral Viagra or something like it. (b) We're in this for the long haul. Read this crud, get angry, make more phone calls tomorrow. Donate to Lamont. Keep working.
UPDATE, TUES. MARCH 15, 7:12 AM PT: Maybe the problem is a lack of Internets savvy: we bloggers, unlike either our senators or the MSM, know a concern troll when we see one. The WaPo: Republicans pounced, practically daring Democrats to vote for the measure. "The big question now," said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), "is how many of his Democrat colleagues will follow him over the cliff?" Aw... he's concerned for us. A concern Republican, the cutest, cuddliest kind of them all.
Feingold, however, gets it: Feingold, a member of the intelligence and Judiciary committees, disputed Bush's assertion that a president's inherent constitutional powers trump FISA's restrictions. Feingold also rejected arguments that he may hurt fellow Democrats, telling reporters that Republicans are "nervous as cats" about having greater scrutiny of the spying policy. He said thousands of Americans have called or e-mailed his office to protest Bush's actions, with some calling for the president's impeachment.
And the party's strategists miss the point altogether, still believing that our call for censure or impeachment of Bush is based on a desire for retribution for Clinton's impeachment: Several Democratic strategists said surveillance issues are not Bush's most vulnerable spot, and they fear the party may appear extremist. "It is more likely that a big censure fight would have the effect of rallying folks to his side," said one Democratic strategist and former Clinton aide. "While some in the Democratic base want retribution for what happened to Clinton," the adviser said, "I think there is a larger reluctance to try to remove people from office." WTF? How Beltway-blind can someone get?
Please, please, please, politicians, get this message: Bush lied us into war. He considers himself above the law. He's spying on us without warrants. We need a Congress that, as Madison wanted, "jealously" reins him in and protects its own powers. And Bill Clinton, whose Presidency is now the most ancient of history (Bush having undone everything good about it), is not relevant to this discussion. This is about Bush. (And it's about censure, not about "trying to remove people from office." That's sort of the brilliance of Feingold's resolution; what's so hard to understand about that?)
Elsewhere, columnist/blogger Chris Cillizza reports that Frist already is using his blog to campaign on Feingold's resolution, and also puts the "establishment Dem" cowardice into a nutshell: some establishment Democrats have reined in their rhetoric on the eavesdropping program -- arguing privately that most Americans see the issue as a national security question and, as a result, are more likely to side with the president. Of course, polls show that most Americans see the program as BOTH a national security issue AND a privacy issue, and want the President to operate within the law -- but our leaders are such bad politicians that even when they see a parade they can't recognize it and wander around, looking for a ready-made movement to lead. (Hint, guys? People FOLLOW true leaders, and true leaders PERSUADE people?)
The letter-to-editor campaign supporting Feingold's motion remains in effect here. (If nothing else, we'll have another test of which senators are patriots and which are cowardly enablers -- info we'll use in rallying foot soldiers in November.) Ongoing updates on each senator's position will be posted right here (bookmark it here). Keep tapping away at the edifice, and eventually it will fall.
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