Feingold and Krauthammer Question Edwards’ Newly Developed Principles

Robert Novak is spreading a rumor that there might be a deal between Obama and Edwards in which Edwards becomes Attorney General. I hope this isn’t true as after the mess created in the Bush years we need someone with a stronger background in Constitutional law and civil liberties.

Edwards has also come under criticism from a couple different people today. Last week I quoted Russ Feingold as calling Edwards the most “problematic candidate.” Feingold repeated his criticism of Edwards in an interview with Huffington Post:

“I don’t understand how somebody could vote, five or six critical votes, one way in the Senate and then make your campaign the opposite positions,” Feingold said, expanding on comments he made a week ago to the Appleton (Wisconsin) Post-Crescent. “That doesn’t give me confidence that if the person became president that they would continue the kind of policies that they are using in the Democratic primary. I’m more likely to believe what they did in the Senate.”

Asked to explain what precisely he found problematic, Feingold offered that Edwards had “taken in” voters by switching positions on several key issues.

“You have to consider what the audience is, and obviously these are very popular positions to take when you are in a primary where you are trying to get the progressive vote. But wait a minute — there were opportunities to vote against the bankruptcy bill, there was an opportunity to vote against the China [trade] deal. Those are the moments where you sort of find out where somebody is. So I think, people are being taken in a little bit that now he is taking these positions.”


Feingold Amendment Fails on Procedural Vote

The Feingold Amendment to cut off funding for the war lost 29-67 on a procedural vote. Following are the Senators who voted in favor:

Akaka (D-HI), Biden (D-DE), Boxer (D-CA), Byrd (D-WV), Cantwell (D-WA), Cardin (D-MD), Clinton (D-NY), Dodd (D-CT), Durbin (D-IL), Feingold (D-WI), Feinstein (D-CA), Harkin (D-IA), Inouye (D-HI), Kennedy (D-MA), Kerry (D-MA), Klobuchar (D-MN), Kohl (D-WI), Lautenberg (D-NJ), Leahy (D-VT), Menendez (D-NJ), Mikulski (D-MD), Murray (D-WA), Obama (D-IL), Reid (D-NV), Sanders (I-VT), Schumer (D-NY), Stabenow (D-MI), Whitehouse (D-RI), Wyden (D-OR).

The candidates for the Democratic nomination all voted for it, as did John Kerry. It is unusual here in Michigan to see Debby Stabenow make the more liberal vote while Carl Levin let us down.

Dodd Responds To Edwards on Iraq

Christopher Dodd is having a tough time getting attention in this year’s crowed field. It took an attack on one of the front runners to get some media attention today:

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) just released a statement taking former Sen. John Edwards to task for his new ads on President Bush’s veto of a bill establishing a firm deadline for withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.

“As Senator Dodd was the first candidate to support the Reid-Feingold measure, we agree that Democrats in the Senate should stand up to a President who stubbornly refuses to change his failed policy in Iraq,” said Christy Setzer. “We wish that Senator Edwards was still in the Senate for this important fight.”

Setzer added: “If we can’t get his vote in the Senate, of course we would welcome Senator Edwards ‘ support for Senator Dodd’s plan, which would safely re-deploy out troops and bring an end to this war within on year rather than the incremental eighteen-month approach he has proposed.”


The Fix also notes the difficulty Dodd is having getting his message out:

Dodd is the lone presidential candidate to voice support for the measure being sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) that would set a date certain for not just withdrawal of American troops but for funding for the war. Dodd’s campaign has repeatedly highlighted that fact as an attempt to distinguish himself from the field of better known candidates include Edwards as well as Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.).

If Dodd wants to distinguish himself from Edwards, he might also use the same argument I recently suggested for Bill Richardson. Dodd, like Richardson, is qualified to be President.

Kerry To Attempt to Reduce GOP Senate Backing For War

When he announced his decision not to run for the 2008 nomination, one reason given by John Kerry was the need to more effectively carry on the fight to end the war in Iraq. TPM Cafe reports that Kerry is launching a campaign to put pressure on Republican Senators who are vulnerable in 2008, John Sununu, Norm Coleman, Susan Collins, and GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell.
Reportedly Kerry will be sending out an email, and will have posts at Daily Kos and Huffington Post on this effort. A copy of Kerry’s email is under the fold. (more…)

Feingold and Reid Propose Legislation to End War

Following is a press release from Russ Feingold’s office regarding a proposal to redeploy troops out of Iraq. This appears to be a much better approach than the arguments of many bloggers (which led to the attacks on Obama following his interviews with AP and CNN discussed in the last post), along with John Edwards, to tie opposition to the war to spending bills. We need Senate Democrats to strongly oppose the war, but they must also be cautious of giving ammunition to Republicans who raise bogus charges of cutting off funds to support the troops. The plan makes clear the distinction between cutting off current funds for the troops and limiting future funding to safely redeploying the troops out of Iraq.

Following is the press release from Russ Feingold:

April 2, 2007

Washington D.C. -­ U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced today that they are introducing legislation that will effectively end the current military mission in Iraq and begin the redeployment of U.S. forces. The bill requires the President to begin safely redeploying U.S. troops from Iraq 120 days from enactment, as required by the emergency supplemental spending bill the Senate passed last week. The bill ends funding for the war, with three narrow exceptions, effective March 31, 2008.“I am pleased to cosponsor Senator Feingold’s important legislation,” Reid said. “I believe it is consistent with the language included in the supplemental appropriations bill passed by a bipartisan majority of the Senate. If the President vetoes the supplemental appropriations bill and continues to resist changing course in Iraq, I will work to ensure this legislation receives a vote in the Senate in the next work period.”

“I am delighted to be working with the Majority Leader to bring our involvement in the Iraq war to an end,” Feingold said. “Congress has a responsibility to end a war that is opposed by the American people and is undermining our national security. By ending funding for the President’s failed Iraq policy, our bill requires the President to safely redeploy our troops from Iraq.”

The language of the legislation reads:

(a) Transition of Mission – The President shall promptly transition the mission of United States forces in Iraq to the limited purposes set forth in subsection (d).

(b) Commencement of Safe, Phased Redeployment from Iraq – The President shall commence the safe, phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq that are not essential to the purposes set forth in subsection (d). Such redeployment shall begin not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

(c) Prohibition on Use of Funds – No funds appropriated or otherwise made available under any provision of law may be obligated or expended to continue the deployment in Iraq of members of the United States Armed Forces after March 31, 2008.

(d) Exception for Limited Purposes – The prohibition under subsection (c) shall not apply to the obligation or expenditure of funds for the limited purposes as follows:

(1) To conduct targeted operations, limited in duration and scope, against members of al Qaeda and other international terrorist organizations.

(2) To provide security for United States infrastructure and personnel.

(3) To train and equip Iraqi security services.

Republicans Attempt Retroactive Legalization of Warrantless Wiretapping

Republicans plan to spend the fall trying to use 9/11 for political gain, including to pass legislation retroactively permitting Bush’s warrantless wiretapping. The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on S.2453, the “National Security Surveillance Act” written by Dick Cheney and Arlen Specter. The House Judiciary Committee is also expected to consider a companion bill, H.R. 5825. The bills would gut the civil liberties protections present in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the Fourth Amendment. The bills:

  • Allow the NSA to examine international phone conversations and e-mails of American residents and businesses, without any judicial approval and without any evidence the target is conspiring with al Qaeda
  • Authorize warrantless physical searches of Americans’ homes and businesses without any judicial check
  • Allow for the electronic surveillance of Americans without the warrants needed to protect the individual rights of people in the US.

As Bush’s activities have come under attack from the courts, and some Republicans as well as Democrats, the Republican leadership hopes to push through these acts to legalize actions which likely were illegal when committed.

In recent years the United States has gone through crises including World War II and the Cold War while managing to maintain the rule of law. Even when their were some abuses, these were limited to a specific time frame. It is more important that we preserve the rule of law in the face of what can become a perpetual state of war against terrorism. This is a war which has no clear end point and which would provide a never ending justification for suspension of civil liberties if we allow this. I recently cited one article which predicted that we will achieve victory “three or four decades into the future.” If we give up our liberties for such a period, it is doubtful they will ever be restored.

Previous posts on the warrantless wiretaps under the fold.