Liberty Just in Case

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Archive for March 12th, 2006

Feingold on Impeachment

Posted by Mark on March 12, 2006

Russ Feingold, Democrat Senator from Wisconsin, today called for Censure of the President over the NSA surveillance issue:

“This conduct is right in the strike zone of the concept of high crimes and misdemeanors.”

But, not so long ago the esteemed Senator said this:

But I would like to conclude by just talking a little bit about this impeachment issue in the modern context. When I say that the vote in 1996 is the primary issue, I don’t just mean that in terms of the rights of people. I mean it in terms of the goal of the Founding Fathers, and our goal today; that is, political stability in this country. We don’t want a parliamentary system. And we don’t want an overly partisan system.

I see the 4-year term as a unifying force of our Nation. Yet, this is the second time in my adult lifetime that we have had serious impeachment proceedings, and I am only 45 years old. This only occurred once in the entire 200 years prior to this time. Is this a fluke? Is it that we just happened to have had two `bad men’ as Presidents? I doubt it. How will we feel if sometime in the next 10 years a third impeachment proceeding occurs in this country so we will have had three within 40 years?

I see a danger in this in an increasingly diverse country. I see a danger in this in an increasingly divided country. And I see a danger in this when the final argument of the House manager is that this is a chapter in an ongoing `culture war’ in this Nation. That troubles me. I hope that is not where we are and hope that is not where we are heading.

It is best not to err at all in this case. But if we must err, let us err on the side of avoiding these divisions, and let us err on the side of respecting the will of the people.

Let me conclude by quoting James W. Grimes, one of the seven Republican Senators who voted not to acquit Andrew Johnson. I discovered this speech, and found out that the Chief Justice had already discovered and quoted him, and said he was one of the three of the ablest of the seven. Grimes said this in his opinion about why he wouldn’t convict President Johnson:

I cannot agree to destroy the harmonious working of the Constitution for the sake of getting rid of an unacceptable President. Whatever may be my opinion of the incumbent, I cannot consent to trifle with the high office he holds. I can do nothing which, by implication, may be construed as an approval of impeachment as a part of future political machinery.

What changed? Only Senator Feingold’s Presidential aspirations and the party holding the White House. How sad that in time of war a liberal Democrat can’t see past his own blind ambition. How very sad.

Update:
Confederate Yankee takes apart Feingold’s silliness point by point.

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