Senator Feingold’s Profiles In Courage

April 3, 2006

I watched with disgust Chris Wallace’s excellent interview of Sen. Russ Feingold on “Fox News Sunday,” where Feingold indignantly defended his quixotic, yet still outrageous, motion to censure President Bush for his NSA surveillance program.

Feingold says that the president should be censured (perhaps even impeached) for violating the law. Why, it’s worse than Watergate, says Feingold, because the president is thumbing his nose at the laws of this country.

This is the same senator who wasn’t convinced Clinton had obstructed justice or committed perjury beyond a reasonable doubt. If Clinton wasn’t thumbing his nose at the laws of this country, how would you describe what he was doing?

Feingold is also incensed that President Bush has a “preemptive doctrine of war.” But did he have the courage to challenge Sen. Kerry when Kerry admitted during the presidential campaign that “American presidents have always had a right of preemption to address immediate threats”?

Feingold’s move is not one of moral courage, but raw political ambition. In the words of Democratic senator Mark Dayton, Feingold’s move is “an overreaching step by someone who is grandstanding and running for president at the expense of his own party and his own country.”

But Feingold’s motion is also born of frustration at being on the losing end of a power struggle. While he made the obligatory noises about President Bush’s “imperial presidency,” he betrayed the real source of his angst when he said, “we have this problem of one-party rule in our system of government right now,” and “we have a Republican president and two houses of Congress run by the Republicans … ” Sorry, Senator, but they were elected, and it’s not your call. Learn to be a better loser.

Feingold told Wallace that Bush should not be creating a “very divisive situation in our country that weakens us in the fight against terrorism internationally.” What? Does Feingold think his bogus stunt to censure and humiliate the commander in chief during wartime is not divisive and will not weaken us? To advocate such a measure, Feingold must be pretty certain Bush broke the law, right? Well, a group of retired FISA judges don’t agree with him. Nor, obviously, did many of Bush’s predecessors who engaged in similar conduct. Has Feingold ever accused any of them of acting like King George III?

If Feingold is so sure Bush broke the law, why did he admit to Chris Wallace that “one of the reasons I decided it was time for the censure resolution [is] because it became clear that there was not going to be the kind of investigation that had to happen to find out exactly what this program is all about”? In other words, he wants to invoke this draconian remedy for the backdoor purpose of finding out what the program entailed.

That’s like charging a person with a crime without sufficient evidence he committed it so you can begin a fishing expedition — under color of law and at government expense. This is precisely the type of abuse of process for which Feingold wants to censure President Bush.

Since Feingold called those who wouldn’t join his censure move “cowards,” one might assume he is a man of moral courage. But were you aware that Feingold once said, “Iraq presents a genuine threat, especially in the form of weapons of mass destruction, chemical, biological, and potentially nuclear weapons. I agree that Saddam Hussein is exceptionally dangerous”? But has Feingold ever displayed the “courage” to condemn those who persistently accuse Bush of lying about WMD?

Even more to the point, have you ever read the exchange between Feingold and Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., on Sept. 26, 1996, concerning proposed legislation to ban partial-birth abortion? Now there’s a profile in courage.

Essentially, Feingold refused to agree that if a baby’s head emerges from the birth canal accidentally, the law should prevent the doctor from killing it. Demonstrating greater cowardice than could even be imagined by those he accused of cowardice, he said, “I am not the person to be answering that question. That is a question that should be answered by a doctor, and by the woman who received advice from the doctor.”

So, he’s willing to grant to doctors and mothers the prerogative to murder already-born human beings, and he says he’s worried about President Bush having too much power?

Sen. Feingold, perhaps because of his deathly fear of defying the pro-abortion lobby, lacked the moral courage to exercise his constitutional duty to preempt a doctor and mother from “choosing” to kill an already-born baby. Instead, he hid behind the perniciously euphemistic ruse that this was a matter concerning the mother’s health that she and her doctor had to decide.

Shame on the lecturing senator.