Senatorial Slap on the Wrist

Senatorial Slap on the Wrist
By Anthony Harris
Editorial Staff Writer

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) is proposing to censure the president because of his unconstitutional wiretapping program.  To many, this seems like a foreign concept.  The only reason why I probably knew what this was when I read the headline on CNN’s website was because I have a deep, abiding love for Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing.

For those of you who aren’t crazy about political drama and whether or not Donna and Josh will ever get together, a censure is a congressional act which is a formal reprimand.  Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin), presidential hopeful for 2008, is putting together a senatorial vote for a formal slap on the wrist.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m actually in favor of the censure.  Something must be done for the president overtly violating the fourth amendment.  This isn’t the best course of action, but this most certainly is an action.  The Democratic Party is finding its backbone once again, but it’s unfortunately doing so through futile acts.

The Democrats are finding new ground with their successes with blocking the port deal with the United Arab Emirates and currying favor against the war in Iraq.  The president’s polls are his lowest yet according to the Associated Press.  The Democratic Party can find success in the House, Senate, and in the presidency, but Sen. Feingold’s censure is not really the major boost the party needs.

A censure is the senate telling an office holder that he’s been a bad boy.  There is no order to sit in the corner a suspension.  The Senate is very disappointed.  There is no constitutional obligation attached.  There is no real punishment.  It’s merely a formal reprimand.  Yet, even with very little meaning attached to it, the only other president to have been censured was Andrew Johnson for not turning over a letter read to his cabinet over band records.  The issue was actually more complicated than that, but I didn’t care enough to keep reading the Senate website.

When you get right down to it, this is a fairly pointless act.  It’s a symbol from weak-willed democrats do something to fight the president when he has done wrong countless times over the course of his presidency.  This could be the necessary act for democrats to hold the course and take the legislative branch in 2006.  This may even be Feingold’s claim to the limelight (I’m doubting it though).

Still, this is probably just a call for attention.  Feingold wants the democratic presidential ticket for 2008 when most of America knows that Hilary Clinton will be getting it.    It’s a senator’s grasp for straws by growing a spine, and some on his side may even respect that.  But it’s still just a censure.  It’s a small blemish in a long history book.  No one will read it or care about it unless it were to happen again.

Some time, seventy-five years from now, President Arthur Woodson is going to make an executive order moving PFC Herbert Wilson into a house he thinks is abandoned because some base in Virginia was overfilled.  The president will claim eminent domain and think the problem is solved.  He will unwittingly break the third amendment (on the quartering of troops) because the owner of that house is still alive and was planning to renovate.  The senate will then plan to censure the president two month later.  All the news outlets will state in the sixth paragraph of their articles:

Only two presidents have been censured in American History: Andrew Johnson and George W. Bush.


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