Since calling for the censure of Generalissimo Bush Senator Russell Feingold has received a down arrow from Newsweek’s Conventional Wisdom rectangle, a dissembling Talk of the Town editorial from the New Yorker saying that he is correct on the merits but wrong on the tactics, and a succession of jellyfish palm sweatings from the establishment barnacles at the NY Times. Their admonishment started with a newspaper article, quoting Rush “Oxycontin” Limbaugh, asserting the Feingold’s strategem had excited the Conservatron base. It continued with a disapproving editorial and reached its apex with a guest opinion piece from a history professor stating that censuring Andrew Jackson wound up hurting Henry Clay and therefore Feingold, though “no Henry Clay,” would be due a similar nasty boomerang effect should he censure Bush. As a man with a BA in history I am fond of the everyone’s-excited-about-this-today-but-back-in-xyz-a-version-of-this-same-drama-played-out smugness that is the historian’s intellectual scabbard. The Clay/Jackson censure opinion, however, was the worst and stupidest historical analogy I have ever heard. Clay’s censure of Jackson for scuttling of the Bank of the United States had everything to do with personal politics stemming from the “corrupt bargain,” and Clay’s successive inability to become president was merely the reality of an old plantation aristocracy style politician trying to win a national election where every white man could vote. Jackson ushered in and personified the change to universal white male suffrage, which is why his mangy racist Indian murdering face is on the twenty-dollar bill, but I digress. The point is that publishing such drivel reveals a degree of pant-wetting anxiety on the part of the Times over Feingold’s resolute call for censure.
It is interesting that this excitement from the Conservatron base has not materialized despite the cheerleading of ol’ Hillbilly Heroin Limbaugh. It’s not for nothing that the Conservatron echo chamber has not cause celebred Feingold’s censure resolution. Given that the censure is almost toothless, it only officially sanctions the President for breaking the law, playing the classic Conservatron game of False Choice – holding the president accountable only helps the terrorists! – instantaneously descends into self-parody. A talking head blabberfest on the matter would, of course, focus on how Bush is breaking the law. Not the way to win a news cycle. Moreover, there are enough Republicans who maintain a bit of non-loony Goldwater libertarianism that this issue divides the base too much to energize it.
The censure resolution may yet turn out to be brilliant politics. One of the few Senators to endorse it was Tom Harkin of Iowa, an early Dean supporter in ’04 that Iowa has sent to the Senate several times. No matter how powerful the Hillary Juggernaut may seem, Harkin’s support indicates that Iowa Dems are behind the idea.
Feingold had the brains to vote against the Patriot Act while the remains of the Twin Towers were still smoldering. He had the guts to vote against the Iraq War Resolution at the height of the freedom fries hysteria. The publications decrying the censure resolution came around to those points of view eventually too.
Should Democrats win either house of Congress in ’06 Bush will either be impeached or resign. Why? Simple. Subpoena power. Should this occur Feingold, once again, will have proved himself to be way ahead of his yellow establishment detractors. Ladies and gentlemen, the next President of the United States….