ABC News: Feingold Calls for Bush's Censure: "Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold called on the Senate to publicly admonish President Bush"
Some liberals have defended Feingold's censure motion as a reasonable and proportional to what we know about Bush's misconduct in the matter of electronic surveillance in violation of FISA.
I am not sure it is "reasonable" at all.
Feingold and his censure motion have been and will continue to be mocked, as an empty and meaningless gesture, which it surely is, coming as it does, from the powerless Democrats. Moreover, although, perhaps, proportional to the FISA issue, censure is inadequate to the whole of Bush's conduct -- I am referring to the probable war crimes of aggressive war and torture.
A majority of the Media elite, of the punditocracy, and the largest part of the People, who elected Bush, are still asleep in a dream world, where Bush is not a very bad leader and where, to save our country further grief, we should not be seeking immediately to remove him from power.
Those of us wide awake, and politically powerless, are left to flail around, hopelessly trying to find a way to wake those people up. Mere events, wave after wave of scandal, endless indications in the news of the day of America's rapid economic and moral decline, appear inadequate to wake them from their slumber. In short, the great political storm, which would sweep Bush into the dustbin of history, like Nixon before him, never comes.
The task, at hand, is, nevertheless, to wake our fellow Americans, and, then, to do what must be done, including to censure the President.
If we could get some important part of the country's political leadership to act as if the President's misconduct was a serious matter, maybe that would wake those people to the reality that the President's misconduct is a serious matter. I suppose this is Feingold's hope, that if he can get some of his fellow Senators, and some of those whose business is the criticism of political theatre (i.e., the pundits) to act as if the President's lawless behavior is a serious matter, then maybe the People -- or a few more of them, anyway -- will awake.
As far as FISA is concerned, that hope is vainglorious, in a way, which illustrates why Feingold is such a quixotic and impractical individual. A minority of the population, who are comfortable with abstract principles in isolation, are convinced by what we know. Feingold, an idealist, is typical of that minority. Bush has succeeded in the obscuring the concrete details of what he did, and it is the concrete details, which would matter to a political majority. You have to practical consequences in evidence, to convince a political majority, not just abstract principles.
Some people, with the Clinton impeachment farce in memory, think that we should find some other way to muddle through 3 years of Bush. Either they think waking the People is hopeless, or, since an awakened People are inherently uncontrollable and unpredictable, possibly counter-productive. I am not one of them.
The country is evenly divided politically, but this divide will not last forever. Eventually, a solid political majority will coalesce. And, either that majority will reject the reactionary authoritarianism of Bush, or it will embrace it, embedding it in the effective political (small c) constitution of the country for a generation or two.
The political theatre of Feingold's censure motion will expose the Democrats as impotent in the present crisis, and they will continue to be mocked as impotent. Those awake to the reality of the situation will seem shrill to those still asleep. And, the shrill will feel their own impotence, and the pain of hopelessness, as long as a majority chooses sleep.
Our "hope", if you can call it that, remains the coming perfect storm -- the moment when the coincidence of consequences (the consequences of foolish Bush policies) comes together in a moment of compelling political theatre, in which the country acts to change direction. That Storm remains beyond the horizon, even as storm after storm passes overhead.