Feingold Call for Censuring Bush Falls Flat
Yesterday’s motion by Russ Feingold to censure President Bush is not generating much enthusiasm even among Senate Democrats. AP’s Laurie Kellman reports that, “Even as he spoke, Democratic leaders held off the immediate vote that Majority Leader Bill Frist requested. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said he didn’t know if there ever would be one. Durbin said that Feingold had sought to use the censure resolution ‘as a catalyst’ for thorough hearings and investigations.”
Even as a publicity stunt, it’s not faring that well. WaPo buries its story by Charles Babbington on page A8. His lede is a decidely mixed message:
Democrats sharpened their attack yesterday on President Bush’s warrantless surveillance of Americans, with a liberal senator introducing a censure resolution and party leaders showing a willingness to debate the matter.
Some party strategists, however, worried that voters will see the move as overreaching partisanship, and 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?”
It’s quite apparent, however, that Feingold’s colleagues had no interest whatsoever in debating the matter and, indeed, quickly voted to table the matter when Majority Leader Bill Frist called for an immediate vote.
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.”
One gathers from the coverage that Hillary Clinton remained silent on the matter, as her name is not mentioned. She has been remarkably canny in guaging the mood of the public on issues, even as she alienates the netroots.