Thursday, March 23, 2006

The message sent by the Milquetoast Democrats

Senator Russ Feingold (D–WI) has introduced a resolution to censure President Bush for his illegal program of warrantless domestic eavesdropping. Sadly, many Democrats have been running away from the censure resolution, proving yet again that their principles are determined not by a solid moral foundation, but by the whims of the latest opinion polls.

President Bush broke the law by ordering "unreasonable searches and seizures" without warrants issued "upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." The quotes are from the Fourth Amendment, and absolutely nothing in Article II in any way gives the Commander in Chief the authority to overlook that prohibition, and absolutely nothing in Article I gives the Congress the authority to waive it. There is no other possible reading consistent with the intent of the Founding Fathers, nor consistent with the plain language of the Constitution itself. It is, to borrow a phrase, "a slam dunk." Yes, there are many high-powered experts who disagree with my assessment, but I will not accept an appeal to authority on the interpretation of such unambiguous limits; the Constitution speaks for itself, and Bush has broken his oath to uphold and defend it. He has done so repeatedly throughout most of his administration, and he has done so unapologetically.

Oh, but even though polls show a majority of Americans believe that the country is on the wrong track, believe that Bush has lied to us, believe that Iraq was a mistake, and believe that Bush is doing a lousy job as President, the numbers are still favorable on spying on al Qaeda, no matter what we are asked to sacrifice to make it happen. It doesn't even matter how relevant the sacrifice is to the threat we face. For long as that polling number holds up, the Democrats will continue their "back-seat leadership" by standing up for whatever is already popular. It's not pandering, it's taking a principled stand for the irrational prejudices of the soccer moms, the NASCAR dads, and the people in rural Kansas who think they know how to respond to urban terrorists.

Here's a hint: if you've never set foot outside the United States, then you very likely do not have the breadth of experience you need in order to understand the reality of global terrorism. Maybe if you live in one of the major cities with a variety of recent immigrants, but certainly not if you live in the middle of white-bread middle America.

The Democrats in the Senate should be rushing to sign onto Feingold's censure resolution — not because it is the thing that will weaken Bush and the Republicans, but because it is the right thing to do for America. Leadership sometimes means taking the unpopular stand because it is just and noble, but leadership is a quality sadly scarce in Washington, D.C.

By the way, among the "Milquetoast Democrats," I number Hillary Clinton, whose spineless kowtowing to the anti-flag-burning lobby is a disgrace from which I doubt she will ever recover my trust, not to mention her official silence on the censure resolution.

Don't look at an opinion poll before answering this question: can any Democrat in Congress honestly say that you believe that the President has not directly violated the Fourth Amendment and the FISA law? Personally, I wouldn't feel comfortable giving that kind of power to John F. Kennedy or Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton or certainly not LBJ. On the flip side, I wouldn't give it to Ronald Reagan or even John McCain — even McCain has shown his lack of principles lately with his support for Unintelligent Design of biology curricula. I'm certainly not about to give that kind of sweeping power to someone with as abundant a track record of abject incompetence and hostility to careful consideration as George W. Bush.

From Andover to Yale to UT Law School to Harvard Business to Arbusto to Governor to President, George W. Bush's life has been one after another after another "fish out of water" story. Dubya just doesn't have what it takes to be a success at much of anything except political gamesmanship to distract the American people from his true mission.

The blame for the FEMA response to Katrina ultimately lies with George W. Bush.

The blame for the rush to invade Iraq without solid intelligence, without adequate planning, and without consideration of the aftermath of invasion, ultimately lies with George W. Bush.

The blame for the lies told to the Congress and to the American people about the cost of the Iraq war, the cost of the Medicare drug benefit, and the tax cuts for the super-rich, ultimately lies with George W. Bush.

George W. Bush has done very, very little in his life that would even rate an honorable mention. As President, he has been worthy of nothing but censure. But I likewise censure the Congressional Democrats for their timid, poll-driven, spineless acquiescence to his bullying.

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