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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Advancing the Ball on Censure

Having spent some time this morning reading through the corporate media coverage of the Feingold Censure Resolution, a couple of points jumped out at me. First, the conversation regarding President Bush's actions on illegal domestic spying without a warrant has switched from "national security matter" to "the President broke the law -- so how best do we hold him accountable."

That is an enormous change in terms of discussion, and one that will only continue as the Senate Judiciary Committee must now take up the Censure resolution -- since Bill Frist's over-played hand yesterday in his ploy to quash all dissent in the Senate got shot the Democratic leadership.

The second thing that I noticed was that the groundswell of grassroots support got a mention in a number of ways, including in this NYTimes article:
Mr. Feingold said he viewed his censure resolution as a reasonable way to hold the president accountable. He said it fell short of the push for impeachment that some critics contend is warranted by Mr. Bush's approval of the surveillance program and his strong defense of it.

"This is certainly more serious than anything President Clinton was accused of doing," said Mr. Feingold, who added that the grass-roots response to his proposal was strong after he announced his intention on Sunday. "It is reminiscent of what President Nixon was not only accused of doing, but was basically removed from office for doing."
Or this article from Donna Brazile in today's Roll Call (Subscription required to see the whole thing, so I'm going to pull a short excerpt here, but it is worth a read.):
The progressive blogosphere is on fire right now. Web loggers are pumped up about the effort by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) to censure President Bush for breaking the law on domestic surveillance and taking matters into his own hands....

The message from the left-leaning blogosphere is clear: Democrats should understand the real issue. The point is not censure or impeachment; it is Congress’ lack of oversight and its failure to hold anyone accountable for major mistakes or missteps. And especially, it’s about clearly misleading the American public.

From faulty pre-war intelligence to the negligent response to Hurricane Katrina and the unjustified cost for Medicare prescription drug benefits, there has been no meaningful oversight by the GOP-controlled Congress. It is doubtful whether they would be willing to hear evidence against the president.

While the Feingold resolution is not going anywhere given the full Republican control of Washington, D.C., a change in leadership in the fall would make this a ripe item for conversation and action in 2007 and beyond....

Oversight is a fundamental responsibility of Congress, which until the Republicans took over was a coequal branch of government. It’s long past time for the Republican Congress — and in particular the House and Senate Intelligence committees — to stop protecting the administration and start doing more to protect the American people.

The 2006 political campaign season, which is under way across America, will truly come down to a test of wills. If my party’s leaders, whom I admire and respect, cannot figure out three things this electoral season that the GOP will use as wedge issues to distract and divide — Iraq, the war on terror and national security, and cultural issues like abortion and same-sex marriage — then my party finally will have earned its minority status.
It's about damn time a member of the party establishment stood up and said what we've been saying all along. Sounds to me like Donna Brazile picked up a copy of Crashing the Gate (which is fantastic, btw) and realized she'd better get on board or risk losing her consulting gigs when the progressive wave crashes down. Or perhaps its just that she thinks this is the right thing to do, given the President admitted publicly to breaking the law and it is the job of Congress to provide oversight and censure and all. Good on her -- change is tough, but the Democratic establishment needs to fully understand that change is coming, whether they like it or not, because all of us in the progressive roots refuse to go back to the status quo, which really isn't working for anyone anyway.

This is not a one-day battle. It is a series of skirmishes we are going to be waging for quite a while...and that we will keep on waging.

The grassroots are not going away -- Russ Feingold understands and appreciates that fact, and is willing to work with us to harness our energy and drive in a synergistic fashion, and the rest of the Democratic establishment is beginning to wake up to it as well, if only because we've needled them enough that they know we aren't going to be silenced.

It is because so many of you put in the work yesterday, making phone calls, sending faxes, and making your voice heard in the halls of the Senate that this Censure Resolution is now moving to the Judiciary Committee for further consideration. Thank you so much for this -- you've helped to make a difference. Truly, we can't know which phone call may have helped to stiffen Paul Sarbanes' spine or Harry Reid's, but Frist's overplayed hand and arrogant tone certainly didn't help matters -- and knowing that all of us were in their corner had to help stiffen that resolve. So great work everyone.

But there is more work to be done. I'll be outlining more action steps shortly -- and I look forward to your input on how to continue to advance the ball on censure -- and on framing this discussion writ large in terms of the corruption, the incompetence, the outright lying, the abysmal failure that is this Republican Congress and their cowardly rubber stamp actions on behalf of the Bush Administration.

Nothing like a conversation on how the President broke the law, how he isn't above the law, and how we can best hold him accountable as a starting point, is there?

THIS is the genie that Frist was trying to shove back in the bottle yesterday...because this is just the conversation that the Republican leadership and Rove and all of their power-crazy cronies don't want citizens in this nation to have. Once you start thinking about that single instance of law-breaking, you inevitably begin to question so many other aspects of the Bush presidency -- the lies about Iraq, our failure to capture Osama, Katrina, the budget deficit and the profligate spending habits of Republicans in power, what all of this means for our children's future, the failure of Medicare's endless -- and then the house of cards begins to tumble in around them.

Digby had a fantastic article about the long fight yesterday, that I would love everyone to read and think about -- we have to commit to this for the long haul. It's time we took our nation and our party back. The longest journey starts with a single step. Don't know about you guys, but I just started my training for a marathon.

Let's keep moving the ball forward...together.