The Little Boy Who Cried Censure

By: Robert E. Meyer

Sen. Russ Feingold has plans petitioning Congress to issue a censure resolution against President Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney, and Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez. In this piece I will discuss primarily the proposal to censure the president.

First of all, Senator Feingold has a bad habit of supporting meaningless and unpopular censures. In March of 2006, Feingold wanted to censure the president for so-called “warrantless wiretapping.” It should be noted that Feingold did scare up three supporters for the proposal.

While Sen. Feingold was not on board for Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s censure against President Clinton, Feingold was the only Democratic senator to vote against a motion to dismiss Congress’ 1998–1999 impeachment case of President Bill Clinton. We might infer from this position that Sen. Feingold was very principled in taking his lone stand. But, I am always suspicious that such individual positions are more grandstanding than anything. Sen. Feingold likely knew in advance that few, in any, Senators in his party would vote Clinton guilty in the impeachment trial. In any case, he did not follow through with his original position, since no Democrats voted for impeachment. One wonders if Sen. Feingold will become Wisconsin’s version of the Little Boy who cried Wolf?

Senator Feingold says it is necessary to have this censure for the sake of the historical record. The problem for the Democrats is that they talk a good game, but exhibit no inclination to follow through in unison. By censuring Bush, rather than impeaching him, they get the public thinking that they could have gotten the president, but refrained from putting the country through such turmoil. I suspect the real reason we see little desire to impeach Bush is because the evidence could prove Bush is not a liar after all. Far better to leave people with an impression that never has to be proved.

A censure has no real punitive teeth, Why bother with it if nobody signs on to it? If Bush actually did what Feingold is claiming, then articles of impeachment, rather than a censure would be in order. The real problem is that Feingold can hardly claim that Bush misled the American people when so many in his own party are on record for making the same claims about Saddam Hussein’s regime. Many of these claims were made before Bush was in office, so it couldn’t be a matter of them being tricked by Bush (who is depicted as a Hitleresque mastermind in one instance, but a missing village idiot from a Texas town in another).

The way some in Congress have reacted reminds me of a story I heard about some kids organizing a pick-up baseball game.

They debate whether to play the game on their quiet street, or go to the ball diamond a few blocks down the road. One of them reminds the group that last year a sharply hit foul ball damaged the neighbor’s siding, and suggests they go to the field. But a prominent player says that he is going away with his parents later in the day and must be within earshot, thus they decide to stay. They determine the batting order. The first player, not knowing his own strength, hits a fly ball further than he ever did before — right through the neighbors picture window. All players panic and scatter saying, “it’s your fault, you did it.,” leaving him to sheepishly retrieve the ball from the neighbor. How is this different from the way some politicians have reacted with Bush, leaving him to take the full brunt of what they themselves endorsed?

In a popular movie from several years ago, the defense attorney character exclaims, “my opponent has brought everything into this courtroom, except a case.” In large, the case against the president has been an inquisition by innuendo and implication. This movement has taken advantage of discontent by the American people over the war in Iraq. People become so discouraged that they will believe anything negative about the persons who are the objects of vilification, without asking about the hard evidence.

One can’t help but to see this all as a politically motivated stunt. The far-left natives are growing restless, because they put the Democrats in power to affect certain policy changes that haven’t occurred.

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