Sen. Russ Feingold wants to censure the President again. It won't happen and it's not all bad that the good Senator is wasting his time on it. The more energy he devotes to this the less time he will have to propose legislation.
Feingold explains his position in a piece in yesterday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The last time he called for censure and the local paper gave him column space to promote the idea, the editorial board asked me to write something advancing the opposing view. They gave Russ an open field this time.
There is, put politely, a dearth of hard information in the collection of adjectives and ipse dixits that someone on the Senator's staff wrote for him. But I was struck by the assertion that the Bush administration misled the country into war followed by this:
I believe that the president and the vice president may well have committed impeachable offenses. That does not mean, however, that putting the country through two impeachment trials and distracting Congress from its other work, including trying to undo this administration's misconduct, is required or the right thing for the country.
No, actually, if the President and Vice President lied their way into a war, an impeachment trial is precisely what is required. Heck, I'd support it. Feingold wants to accuse Bush and Cheney of treason without having to do anything about it. He wants to brand the President of the United States a criminal without being bothered to prove it. By divorcing accusations from consequence, his call for censure is nothing but a political trick. He'd support this slander if only the country could take it.
I don't want to hear about the overhyped Downing Street memo or listen to the mythical Ballad of Valerie & Joe. Don't bother me with the Talking Richard Clarke Blues. If you believe that the Iraq War is the product of deliberate lies, you ought to be for impeachment. You ought to think that Bush should go to jail. Censure is just a symbolic bill of attainder.
All of this reminds me of John Randolph's comment about Henry Clay. Like a rotten mackerel in the moonlight, it both shines and stinks.