Tuesday, June 27, 2006

# Posted 12:21 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

WELCOME TO FEINGOLD'S UNIVERSE: A good friend of mine from grad school worked for Feingold and has tremendous respect for him. It isn't hard to see why. The Senator from Wisconsin is an intelligent and independent thinker with far more integrity than you expect in Washington. But I just can't get past his weirdness. To see what I mean, take a look at the transcript from Feingold's headline interview yesterday morning on Meet the Press:
FEINGOLD: Having a public deadline that the American people could see, that the Iraqi people could see, that the world could see, so that people couldn’t use the idea of a so-called “American occupation of Iraq” as an excuse to recruit terrorists, that would be good for us, it would help us in the fight against al-Qaeda, which should be our top goal, Tim, fighting al-Qaeda and its affiliates, not being bogged down in Iraq.
On the one hand Feingold is hawkish, refusing to acknowledge that the occupation of Iraq deserves to be called, well, an occupation. But then he turns right around and says we should only be fighting Al Qaeda and its affiliates, as if he never heard of an organization called "Al Qaeda in Iraq". (You know which one I mean. It's leader is that Zarqawi guy.)
MR. RUSSERT: ...Are you concerned, as is Senator Clinton, that if we pulled out of Iraq completely by the end of next year, and it did tip into total chaos and become a haven for terrorists or for al-Qaeda, it would be a major threat to the United States?

SEN. FEINGOLD: Sure. If all those things happen. But, Tim, that’s what’s going on right now. This parade of horribles about things that might happen? What’s happening right now in Iraq is chaos. I’ve been there twice—two years in a row with Senator McCain and on one occasion with Senator Clinton. What’s happening right now is chaotic. What’s happening right now is that terrorists are using Iraq as a training ground. So this idea that if we leave, things will get worse, is not clear. What we know is that what’s happening now is really awful and is depleting America’s strength.
There is a strange parallelism here. Just as certain hawks assumed that everything in Iraq would improve dramatically after an invasion, certain doves have persuaded themselves that nothing all that bad will happen if America pulls out.
MR. RUSSERT: Back in 2002 and 2003, you voted against the war, as I said, one of a handful of senators who did. But you did say that Saddam possessed weapons that were capable of unimaginable destruction. That you believed in regime change, that he had biological, chemical and potentially nuclear weapons, that he’s a dangerous and brutal person, and you agreed with the president on that. Why were you so wrong about that description of Saddam?

SEN. FEINGOLD: Well, I don’t think any of that was necessarily wrong. If you, if you look at the whole speech, of course, I concluded that the imminence of any threat of that kind was not there.
None of it was wrong? None of it? Imagine what kind of trouble Dick Cheney would get in for saying something like that. But the real issue here is that Feingold just can't admit his arguments have any flaws. Might things in Iraq get much worse if we leave? No, of course not. Was anything you said before the invasion wrong? No, of course not.
MR. RUSSERT: You [said] in GQ magazine that’s coming out this week, “Problem is, George Bush has committed a more clearly impeachable offense than Clinton or even Nixon ever did.” George Bush committed a more impeachable offense than Richard Nixon?

SEN. FEINGOLD: Oh, I think so. I mean, you could debate that if you want...I even heard George Will describe it as monarchical at one point. So I do think it is the greatest threat to our republic.

You know, when the founders wrote the words “high crimes and misdemeanors,” they weren’t particularly interested in, in break-ins at the Watergate Plaza or, or, or presidential personal misconduct.
Thomas Jefferson wouldn't have cared about the use of executive power in an attempt to influence the outcome of an election. I beg to differ. If John Adams had tried that in 1800, I don't think TJ would've taken it lying down.

But if one assumes that George W. Bush is the bogeyman Russ Feingold makes him out to be...
MR. RUSSERT: So, logically, you’re suggesting that George Bush deserves impeachment?

SEN. FEINGOLD: No. You—the, the—I think he’s committed an impeachable offense, in other words, something that could be within that category, but that doesn’t mean we should do it, that doesn’t mean that it’s the right thing for the country to say, “It’s in the best interest of America to actually remove him from office,” I question that. That’s specifically why, Tim, I propose censure. I think it would be disruptive to America to have an impeachment proceeding.
Monarchical. A threat to the republic. But it would be "disruptive" to actually confront this threat and save the republic?
MR. RUSSERT: Should we end this wiretapping program until it is approved by a court?

SEN. FEINGOLD: Well, how are we going to end it? I think the, the only way to, to deal with it is to have it brought within the court, and, and that’s what we should do.
Wait. So Feingold won't even oppose the continuation of the selfsame action whose justification by the president (via reference to Article II) is an impeachable offense?

I guess I'll just have to say that Feingold is a very, very, very independent thinker.
(9) opinions -- Add your opinion

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I agree with much of your criticisms, but, in all fairness, it isn't at all clear what he's saying about the wiretapping program. Russert clearly thinks he's talking about having a court case over the constitutionality of the provision, while Feingold isn't arguing that. So the back-and-forth gets odd.

Here's my read: He is definitely arguing that Bush overstepped his constitutional authority by doing an end-run around FISA. But he's arguing that the program is fine as long as it is subject to judicial oversight. There's no contradiction here--the reason it is an impeachable offense is that it (arguably) usurps congressional authority; if the program were (or could) be brought in compliance with FISA it wouldn't. End of story.
The problems with most of these arguments is they are based on the false presumption that Congress trumps presidential authority in all cases. If the Congress decides to get involved then any alleged presidential authority from the constitution is mute.

The Congress is becoming dysfunctional with different committees inserting themselves in other commitees business.

Especially agregious are the comments of Senetor Specter who seems to think that anything within the intelligence realm is clearly suspect unless the judiciary committee approves of it first.

When you do not trust the bi partisan heads of both houses intelligence committees and the heads of both parties you have a problem. Arrogance, paranoia or just plain ambition plays a role in this.

I am not sure where Feingold fits.
The argument does not presume unlimited Congressional authority. It assumes that in the context of express legislation governing Executive conduct that the Executive is bound to follow that legislation. Bush & co. claim that they are not bound by the legislation because of an extremely expansive reading of the Commander in Chief clause and because of the Congressional resolutions authorizing the Afghanistan (and Iraq? don't remember) actions. This is pretty tortured reasoning, and would seem to imply nearly limitless Executive powers during times of war: a position woefully inconsistent with any number of interpretive frameworks, particularly the administration's favored "originalist" and "strict constructionist" positions.
feingold represents all that is wrong with the anti American left. Where is his critisism of bill clintoon's wag the dog war in the Balkans? There was no threat to us at all there, far less than Iraq posed under hussien.
I see Senator Feingold as a man who has recently decided to show his true colors. He always appeared very reasonable--until his last reelection. Now he lets all his hard leftism hang out, believing that is where the Democratic Party is going and he can grab the brass ring. In fact, he is probably making himself such an outcast that he will be rejected next time by the people of Wisconsin.
In fact, he is probably making himself such an outcast that he will be rejected next time by the people of Wisconsin.

Funny, as someone who's a lifelong Wisconsin Republican resident I haven't noticed anything different between the Feingold of late and the way he has been since the start, and I've voted for him every time he's up for election.

He has always been opinionated, always stuck to his guns, and always taken the principled stand. This, if nothing else, has ensured he will continue to be supported by the people of Wisconsin, who, if we have to be blunt, are the only people that really matter during his election fights...

I say let the TV/blog pundits try and tear him down, it just makes him look better.
Funny, as someone who's a lifelong Wisconsin Republican resident I haven't noticed anything different between the Feingold of late and the way he has been since the start, and I've voted for him every time he's up for election.

I could say pretty much the same thing, except I'm a lifelong Wisconsin independent.

He will not be hurting in Wisconsin because Wisconsin voters have always supported his independence. Nothing here is new. He has always taken an independent stance, standing for what he believes in as opposed to toeing any party line. He was the only one to vote against the Patriot Act because he felt it violated the Constitution. Likewise, he was one of very few Democrats to vote against the assault weapons ban because he felt it violated the Constitution.

In truth, if you follow his history, he's not nearly as far left as he often gets portrayed. The simple fact is that he is in the limelight because he is one of very few who are willing to stand up to Bush. That makes him look far left (if you believe Bush is right leaning, which I would argue is questionable) but that does not give a full picture of everything he is, it only shows one part of who he is.
You said "... as if he never heard of an organization called "Al Qaeda in Iraq". (You know which one I mean. It's leader is that Zarqawi guy.) "

The implicit assumption is that the *only* way to fight Al Qaeda is to invade countries. Presumably he is thinking of some sort of strategy that does *not* involve invasion of countries, though it's not clear what that is.

Perhaps he would use the same methods that Putin is going to use to avenge the deaths of the four Russian embassy workers
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