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Harry Gets Hammered

Has Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) had enough talk of censure? After today’s stakeout with the Capitol Hill press corps you bet he has.

The fearless Democrat leader was badgered by reporters about Sen. Russ Feingold’s (D.-Wis.) resolution to censure President Bush for his terrorist surveillance program. One question after another had to do with the censure resolution—something Reid clearly did not want to talk about.

Finally, when the questions became so blunt and direct, Reid cut off reporters and scurried to safety. But immortalized in the history books will be how foolish he and his Democratic cohorts look after Feingold’s political ploy.

Here is just some of the transcript (at least what I think is the best):

Senator, how will you vote on this censure resolution?

Well, it’s a question that’s been asked 33 times in the last few hours. And so, for the 34th time, I’m going to say the same thing: that I’m going to wait until the committee does its work. And we’ll see what happens when it gets to the floor if, in fact, there is a vote on the floor.

Sir, you said the president is violating the Constitution. Why not just impeach him?

Well, that’s something I’m sure that you folks would love to write about. But I think that I’ve had one experience with impeachment here in the Senate. I think it’s something we have to approach very, very cautiously. And I don’t think, in my opinion, that we’re near that, as far as the president has gone.

You know, talk about things unconstitutional, you know, people draft bills that are unconstitutional. That doesn’t mean they should be impeached.

Do you think Senator Feingold has put Democrats in a difficult position on the national security issue, possibly opening up more of these criticisms from the president that you’re soft on terrorism?

Or do you think it opens up another door for you to discuss this eavesdropping issue in a different context?

My personal conviction is that Senator Feingold did this as a matter of principle.

Senator Feingold is a man of principle.

He believes what he put forward in this legislation.

And I think that people should cool their jets and let the process takes its course. I do believe there should be hearings in the Judiciary Committee.

Do I think there will be committee hearings? I rather doubt it, but I hope so. Senator Specter has risen to the occasion on other events.

But maybe something like this will spur on the administration to cooperate with the Intelligence Committee—at least allow the three Democrats that they have anointed to look to into the program.

Maybe those three Democrats—along with their four Republicans, who are a part of this subcommittee—now, as a result of this attention that this spying has got, will allow the committee to really discover what’s going on, so that there can be a report as to what the facts really are, so the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, for example, would at least know what’s going on.

Senator Reid, I’m wonder how you would react. Senator Feingold said to some of us that Democrats are cowering on the issue by not voting on the censure resolution. But your consultants are telling you that this particular issue is a losing issue. And he quoted that.

Senator Feingold I don’t think said it in the context that you talked about. Because there’s no way to vote on it, I mean, at this stage. And I don’t think Senator Feingold wants a vote until he has a hearing. He hasn’t called for a vote on this immediately. That’s one reason I protected him out there yesterday.

There is a process on legislation. And that’s what the Senate is all about.

And first of all, understand on the NSA spying, the president should have the legal authority to do whatever is necessary to find out what these bad people are trying to do to America. He should have that authority.

And we have reached out to the president. We’ve reached out to the president and said, Is there something we need to do to change the law? Because most legal scholars around the country think that what is going on is illegal, that much that we know about it. So there’s not a question that Democrats don’t believe these people should be able to listened to. It’s just that we believe it should be done legally.

But I think what Senator Feingold was saying is that Democrats are cowering because they’re afraid of getting beaten up for being soft on terror. And that they’re afraid to come on board with the censure resolution—be supportive of it initially—because they don’t want to get hammered on by the Republicans.

Well, that’s up to you folks to decide. I don’t know about that.

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Written By

Mr. Bluey, a contributing editor to Human Events, is director of the Center for Media & Public Policy at The Heritage Foundation. He maintains a blog at RobertBluey.com.

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