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Harvard Square Observer: The Cowardice of the Democrats

Ernest Cassara

I happened to be watching the Senate proceedings on C-SPAN2 when Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin introduced his resolution to censure President Bush for his illegal wiretapping of American citizens.  Bush takes the position, you may have noticed, that he can do whatever he likes, and, no matter how egregious his actions, the Republicans and many weak-kneed Democrats are too concerned for their political hides to call him to account for violating the Constitution.

It was interesting to observe the gall of Senate Majority Leader Frist, who attempted to schedule a vote on Feingold's resolution immediately after it was presented, so that there would not be time for it to gain support.  He did not get away with it.

Senator Arlen Spector, from whom we usually expect better, interrupted Feingold before he had spoken more than a couple of lines of his introduction, asking for a copy of the resolution.  When Feingold responded that he would, as a matter of course, be sending a copy of the resolution to the presiding president pro tempore of the Senate, Spector insisted on having a copy then and there.  Feingold appeared puzzled by this, but he sent a copy of the resolution to Spector by a Senate page.

Spector was babbling something about Article II of the Constitution.  Off hand, I could not figure out what he meant.  So, I looked at my handy copy that I keep on my computer and read:

Clause 1: The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows.

Then, there follows, as you know, details of how the president shall be chosen by the electoral college gathered in each state, and his various duties.  So, I read on, and, the only wording that Spector could possibly be referring to is:

Section. 4.
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Since Spector has been carrying water for the party, afraid that he will be deprived of his chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee, I doubt that he was urging Feingold to introduce a resolution to impeach Mr. Bush. What, then, did he intend?

Did fellow Democrats come to Feingold's defense?  No!  Minority Leader Reid summoned up the courage to say that Feingold was very brave, but he did not support him!

Feingold is puzzled that his fellow Democrats are "cowering," at a time when Mr. Bush's standing with the American public is so low.  My own theory is that whenever the president calls up memories of 9/11/01, his opponents run for the hills.

The Republicans don't seem to care about the Constitution.  They are planning to pass ex post facto approval of what the president has done!

It is very reassuring, however, that the public is rising to the occasion.  I received the following message from MoveOn, which I present to you, should you desire to join me in sending a note to your own legislators on the subject:

Dear MoveOn member,

Since yesterday afternoon, when we launched the petition, over 200,000 of us signed up to support Senator Russ Feingold's call to censure President Bush for his illegal wiretapping. Now, Republicans are on the attack-Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO) even accused Feingold of "siding with the terrorists,"(1) and the Republican National Committee is mounting a petition against him.

We've got to work quickly to show other senators and the media that hundreds of thousands of us support Senator Feingold and the rule of law. So, we're increasing our goal: we want to get 350,000 signers by the end of the week. Can you sign our petition asking Congress to censure President Bush for his illegal wiretapping?

http://political.moveon.org/censure?id=7043-6069390-ArkhHTZGp5K9sj5dBdcG3w&t=1

And can you pass this on to friends and family and ask them to sign, too? If we reach our goal, we'll personally deliver your comments to your senators to show them how much this issue matters to their constituents. And we'll send all 350,000 signatures and comments to Senator Feingold to show our support for his leadership.

The Bush administration is illegally refusing to use the FISA court which was set up just for the purpose of overseeing domestic wiretapping. This court approves virtually all of the wiretapping requests it receives, in fact, its only denied a warrant four times in its entire history.(2) Why does the GOP think the president should be above the law? It's certainly not about terrorism. It's about power.

Below is the email we sent out yesterday outlining why we think it's important to support Senator Feingold's call to censure President Bush. [Omitted by Cassara]

Thanks for all you do,

-Eli, Nita, Tom, Adam and the MoveOn.org Political Action Team
Wednesday, March 15th, 2006

Sources:

1. "Demand Allard Apologize," ProgressNow Action, March 14, 2006
http://www.progressnowaction.org/page/community/post/al/CLfH

2. Talking Points Memo, December 17, 2005
http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/007280.php



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