Democrats in recent weeks have been backing off talk of impeaching or censuring President Bush, but that's only because polls show that, despite Bush's low ratings, there's no appetite among the American people to humiliate or drive him out of office.
Only Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., the wanna-be president who's courting the far-left wing of his party, is still talking up censuring the president, most recently at Gen. Michael Hayden's recent CIA confirmation hearings. But don't be fooled by Democrats distancing themselves from Feingold. It's not that they don't agree with him; if that were the case, they'd say so in no uncertain terms.
What's most telling about Democrats' attitude toward Bush is that not one of their number, not even Connecticut's moderate Sen. Joseph Lieberman, has denounced the notion of censuring a president during wartime over an issue in which he was trying to protect the American people. That's the true outrage.
Bush-bashers have put forth many reasons why the president should be censured or worse, but the one that's found the most traction so far is Feingold's claim that Bush is guilty of a crime for not requiring the National Security Agency to get a warrant before listening in on Internet and e-mail communications between al-Qaida terrorists abroad and people in the United States.
But this is not a matter of presidential criminality - it's a matter of differing interpretations of constitutional powers between the legislative and executive branches of government that will eventually be resolved by the Supreme Court.
The "warrantless wiretap" issue is being used by Bush-bashers simply as a means to get the censure ball rolling - and later, of course, impeachment. The Democratic Party's base is demanding impeachment - just check out their blogs and fund-raising appeals.
Despite Democrats' show of avoiding impeachment or censure talk for now, Feingold has some powerful allies in his corner. Vermont's Patrick Leahy, who would take over as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee if Democrats win in November, has indicated that he's leaning toward censure.
And U.S. Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, who would chair the House Judiciary Committee if Democrats win, already is having his staff look into drawing up articles of impeachment - yes, impeachment!
You can take this to the bank. Regardless of what Democrats say or don't say now, if they take control of Congress in November you aren't going to see some kind of bipartisan love-fest with the White House to do the nation's business.
What you'll see is a bitterly partisan move not only to boot President Bush from office, but also Vice President Dick Cheney. With Democrats in charge, the divisive feuding, fussing and fighting in Washington will be worse than ever for the two years leading up to the 2008 presidential election.
We wonder: Is that what Americans really want?
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