Feingold Becomes Fodder for GOP

When liberal Sen. Russ Feingold (D.-Wis.) announced he would introduce a resolution censuring President Bush for his administration’s terrorist surveillance program, congressional Republicans had two options: let the story die a natural death or embarrass Feingold and his Democrat cohorts.

In the early going, it appeared Republicans weren’t going to give Feingold any extra publicity for the stunt. And that plan seemed to be working. (Even the heavily read Drudge Report didn’t carry mention of Feingold’s maneuver until nearly midnight Tuesday.)

But some Republicans couldn’t resist—and I don’t blame them. Monday afternoon Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R.-Tenn.) fired the first shot at Feingold: “Senator Feingold should be ashamed of this political ploy. This is another example of the Democrats’ failure to establish an agenda that meets the needs of the American people.”

Then the floodgates opened.

The Republican National Committee released its attack—“Meet Grandstanding Sen. Russ Feingold”—which asked the question, “Will Democrats stand with Feingold’s soft-on-terror crusade?”

House Republicans even decided to throw in their two cents—each tying Feingold’s stunt to his Democrat counterparts. (Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid won’t endorse the measure, but, hey, he’s still the Democratic leader, right?)

Here are a few of the best:

Rep. Kay Granger (R.-Tex.)

“Spending time censuring the President for implementing a legitimate program that works to protect Americans from another terrorist attack is alarming. Despite having two planes crash through the World Trade Center, killing thousands on American soil, and with terrorist attacks continuing around the world, and in Iraq, many Democrats appear to underestimate the threat against America.”

Rep. Jack Kingston (R.-Ga.)

“Not one Democrat has offered an amendment or a bill to repeal this important national security program. They like to harp about it at Democrat fund raisers and at red meat partisan clubs but when it comes to actually trying to stop it they don’t have the guts. Once you get past their left wing rhetoric, even their own members know this is a vital program.”

Rep. Joe Wilson (R.-S.C.)

“Senator Feingold’s call to censure President Bush for implementing a legitimate and effective terrorist surveillance program demonstrates that Democrats continue to value their political ambitions more than our national security. From Nancy Pelosi’s fierce fight against the Patriot Act to Howard Dean’s defeatist remarks about our troop’s efforts to Senator Feingold’s careless call to censure our President, it’s obvious that Democrats still have no positive plan to protect American families.”

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R.-Colo.)

“I thought the Democrats’ national security agenda couldn’t get any whackier, but they’ve outdone themselves once again. Russ Feingold and the Democrat base want an immediate troop withdrawal in Iraq and an end to monitoring terrorists’ calls into the U.S. What’s next, creating a Department of Radical Islamic Understanding? Feingold should at least be consistent and censure the Democrats who for months were briefed on the terrorist surveillance program and didn’t raise an objection.”

And, finally, props to Sen. John Cornyn’s (R.-Tex.) staff for its creative idea of a scoreboard tracking the Feingold resolution.

Results of the Feingold Censure Resolution (S.Res. 398): Day 2

Democrat co-sponsors of Feingold Resolution: 0

al Qaeda communications intercepted by Feingold Resolution: 0

Terror attacks prevented by Feingold Resolution: 0

With Republicans having this much fun hammering away at Feingold, they ought to start cheering for him to get the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. Just imagine how much fodder he would offer.