Monday, April 03, 2006

Obama on Censure

It surprised me to discover that Sen. Obama opposes censure:

But my and Senator Feingold's view is not unanimous. Some constitutional scholars and lower court opinions support the president's argument that he has inherent authority to go outside the bounds of the law in monitoring the activities of suspected terrorists. The question is whether the president understood the law and knowingly flaunted it, or whether he and his aides, in good faith, interpreted their authority more broadly than I and others believe the law allows. Ultimately, this debate must be resolved by the courts.

Also, a censure resolution does nothing to deal with the underlying problem of unchecked executive power. It would not force the president to modify his domestic surveillance program or force the Senate Intelligence Committee to do its job. In order to do that, Congress must reassert its constitutional role in overseeing the domestic surveillance program. And it should bring the warrantless wiretapping program back under the authority of the court established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Therefore, my focus is on crafting an effective surveillance program that both combats terrorism and contains meaningful judicial review of wiretapping, which is the most effective way to restore balance between the battle against terrorism and the rule of law.

Kudos to the Senator for recognizing the Judicial Branch's responsibility re: checks and balances; it's mystifying why he doesn't recognize his own responsibility. It reads like he's chickenshit to support censure because it's not unanimously agreed upon by everyone in the land. If you're not going to use your power to check the Executive, why even have it?

Democrats have been "saving themselves for a bigger fight" for too long. I understand that in politics, you often lose the battle in order to win the war. Obama supported Roberts and Alito because he wanted to save the "nuclear option" of filibuster for another, more important battle. I don't see why he and others consider censure to be a similarly distasteful all-or-nothing option. It doesn't remove the President from office or strip him of any powers, including the power to wiretap. In fact, if he opposed censure because it lacked teeth, I might be behind him (probably not though; a symbolic gumming would have value and impact).

So maybe the argument goes: we can't censure, because when we take the White House, the GOP will go out of its way to censure us. This is so preposterously short-sighted, and ignorant of recent history, that I find it hard to believe a smart guy like Obama would harbor this contention.

The other half of what he's saying here is almost as alarming, since it amounts to: "I want to move on from the President's illegal wiretapping, by making it congressionally-sanctioned, loophole free, legal wiretapping." It's a bloody shame that Obama has bought into the whole pull-up-the-bootstraps, devote-all-our-resources-to-fighting-the-terrorists mentality. I thought this guy was supposed to elevate the discourse; instead, he's playing the high ground to the lowest common denominator.



Blogger hurtleg said...

I'm having trouble understanding your outrage. Congress was overseeing the wiretap program. A limited number of congressmen and senators were fully briefed on the program. None of the members who were aware of the program had any substansive objection.

This program has nothing in common with the wire tap programs and back bag operations done under Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon. No one has shown any proof that this program was abused in any way.

Obviously you believe that FISA is applicable in this case, but there are plenty of opinions that it is not, including 5 former FISA judges that testified in the Senate last week.

this is a muilitary operation in a time of war, not a law enforment effort. No warrent means evidence can't be introduced in court. This programs aim isn't to generate prosecutions, it is to prevent attacks.

I applaud Obama for having some common sense. The only one in Washington who is pushing this idea is a preening senator trying to run for president from as far left as he can get. I think Feingold is sincere in his beliefs, I and 98 other senators disagree with him on this topic.

2:23 PM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

Obama did not exactly "support" Alito. Just because he voted against a filibuster doesn't mean he voted yes on him.

I do think the Dems should try for a censure, if only to get the debate out there and to get more people paying attention. Maybe Obama doesn't want people paying attention? Seriously, maybe he doesn't.

3:21 PM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

I mean, we all know about marines dying and insurgents blowing things up and hostages, but how much do the people know about anti-terrorist programs and how/why/if they work? So far, the Democrats have won the "domestic surveillance" propaganda war. Perhaps if the propaganda war were more openly fought, the tide might turn against the Dems.

Of course, the Dems could well be right AND have the people turn against them. Mr. Bush is really pansy-assing his second term. Everyone is running all over him and he is taking it like a Boston alter boy.

Have some huevos man!

(Unless, perhaps, that Bush himself might be having second thoughts??)

8:58 AM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

"taking it like a Boston alter boy"
You mind if I steal that one?

12:46 PM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

I'm quite proud of it, so feel free.

3:53 PM  
Blogger Germanicu$ said...

"how much do the people know about anti-terrorist programs and how/why/if they work?"

Well, I haven't been killed by a terrorist, so they MUST work.

If there's anyone this logic sits well with, I have a tiger-deterring rock I'd like to sell you.

1:45 PM  
Blogger Germanicu$ said...

hurtleg: "...a preening senator trying to run for president from as far left as he can get. I think Feingold is sincere in his beliefs..."

So which is it? Is he a preening, politically calculating monster, pushing this agenda to collect votes; or an sincere, honest man, standing up for principles he believes in? He can't be both.

1:48 PM  

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