Sen. Feingold: Backer of the President?

For the second time in a month, a prominent liberal member of Congress from the so-called opposition party has proposed to censure the President. As I noted when Rep. Wexler proposed the same, back in the days of the impeachment of President Clinton it was the President’s supporters who proposed censure as an alternative to impeachment. Here we go again.

Sen. Russel Feingold says that President Bush and Vice President Cheney deserve sanction for “misconduct relating to the war in Iraq and for their repeated assaults on the rule of law.” He further says that his proposed resolution “is about holding the administration accountable.”

Sen. Feingold goes on, in justifiably strong terms:

Censure is not a cure for the devastating toll this administration’s actions have taken on this country. But when future generations look back at the terrible misconduct of this administration, they need to see that a co-equal branch of government stood up and held to account those who violated the principles on which this nation was founded.

The Senator is correct in his assertion that this administration has “assaulted” the Constitution and he is also correct that failure of Congress to act and hold this administration accountable will set a historic precedent that severe misconduct can go on without consequences. However, in the US Constitution, the mechanisms that the co-equal legislative branch has to hold the executive accountable are few, but clear: Cut off funds for its misconduct and/or put impeachment on the table. Censure is for the President’s defenders to propose as a non-serious retort.

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