While appearing on Meet The Press this morning, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) discussed a range of topics including the Iraq war, President Bush, and censure. First, moderator Tim Russert asked Feingold if Congress was capable of ending the war. He answered, “Well, I think we will.  This has been a slow, very painful process.  Sometimes I’ve been very pleased with the progress we’ve made, sometimes I’m not.  But I’ll tell you, what happened this week, a majority of the United States Senate, including four Republicans, voted for a binding deadline to end the war by the early part of next year.  And, you know, this is a proposal that I made a long time ago which, at the time, people thought was sort of extreme.  Now it is a mainstream view.  We need to do more, but the unity that the Democrats are showing is causing more Republicans to come on board, which I think will lead to our being able to pass something in the, in the not-too-distant future.”

After discussing the possibility of increased violence in Iraq, if U.S. troops leave, and the need for troops from other nations in the region to step up their role in helping to stabilize Iraq, Russert then asked if there was anything that Democrats can do to hold President Bush accountable in their minds for the war. Sen. Feingold replied, “Well, I’m shocked by the administration, in particular the president’s response to the November election.  Usually, when presidents are repudiated in elections, they say, “Well, maybe I ought to reassess.” Instead, he did just the opposite.  He did this surge, which went contrary to the will of the American people.  I think we need to do something serious in terms of accountability.  And that’s why I will be shortly introducing a censure resolution of the president and the administration.”

The Senator from Wisconsin then laid out his two part basis for censure. “One, on their getting us into the war of Iraq—in Iraq and their failure to adequately prepare our military and the misleading statements that have continued throughout the war in Iraq.  And the second, on this administration’s outrageous attack on the rule of law, all the way from the illegal terrorist surveillance program to their attitude about torture, which we heard a little bit about today on this show.  This administration has assaulted the Constitution.  We need to have on the historical record some kind of indication that what has happened here is, in the words of Director McConnell, as you just quoted him, disastrous. Somehow we have to address that.  And I think it’s a good time to begin that process.”

When Russert asked if anybody else would be censured, Feingold said, “Potentially yes.  I think when it comes to Iraq, obviously the vice president.  Vice President Cheney has been one of the worst actors in American history in this situation.  There may be others.  On the rule of law issue, on the attack on the Constitution, the current attorney general has had one of the worst records of not being honest with the Judiciary Committee, of being intentionally misleading, and of not taking responsibility for everything from the disastrous consequences of the Patriot Act to the U.S. attorneys debacle.  So, yes, potentially others.  But, of course, the president.  Since the buck stops with the president, that is the number one.”

Feingold was then asked, “Do you think the American people will look on this saying, here go the Democrats just trying to create something sensational by censuring the president rather than trying to solve the problem of Iraq?” He replied, “Well, there’s a lot of sentiment in the country, even the polls show it, for actually impeaching the president and the vice president. I think that they have committed impeachable offenses with regard to this terrorist surveillance program and making up their own program.  What I am proposing is a moderate course, not tying up the Senate and the House with an impeachment trial, but simply passing resolutions that make sure that the historical record shows the way they have weakened our country, weakened our country militarily and against al-Qaeda, and weakened our country’s fundamental document, the Constitution.”

The interview was concluded by talking about possible Democratic and Republican support for censure, and Feingold said that he will be introducing his censure resolution in a few days. It must be noted that a censure resolution doesn’t have any legally binding consequences. Its impact is strictly historical and for the record. I think it is extremely unlikely that Senate Republicans would support a censure resolution against either the president or the vice president. Bush and Cheney are still fellow members of the Republican Party, and I don’t think many Republicans will vote to embarrass themselves in this way, but it shows how far the White House has fallen when Sen. Feingold can on national television and be taken seriously when he talks about censure. In a way it is looking like Bush and Cheney should consider themselves lucky to be getting out, before they are thrown out.

You can watch the full program on MSNBC.com 

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics

Jason can also be heard every Sunday at 7:00 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse

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