Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I'm getting me a little mancrush on Russ Feingold

Until recently, my presidential troth had been plighted to General Wesley Clark. As far as electability is concerned, he's everything a Democrat could hope for. Bright, affable, All-American, Southerner, no voting record to be used against him, unassailable on issues of defense and security, and best of all, his name doesnt rhyme with Gillary Blinton.

But the recent NSA hearings and the questioning of Attorney General Abu Gonzalez have caused my eye to wander. Feingold summed up the only defensible position for a progressive Democrat American to take, pointing out that Tipsy McStagger is "a president, not a King," and that his program of gathering covert intelligence on American citizens without warrants is illegal. Feingold was the only Senator with enough nads to vote against the Patriot Act, has called for a schedule for withdrawal from Iraq, and has been in the forefront of efforts to protect all Americans by being a vocal defender of the Fourth Amendment (one of my own top five amendments).

Russ has some downside, both within the party and without. He was the only Democratic Senator to vote against a motion to dismiss impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton, although he subsequently voted against conviction on all charges. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, he voted for Supreme Court Chief Justice nominee (and former Harvard law classmate) John Roberts, as well as Attorney General nominee John Ashcroft. These positions, while not popular with Democratic activists, give him some cover against the inevitable GOP efforts to position him as a wild-eyed, bomb-throwing liberal. He is in the process of getting his second divorce, which is bound to give the defense of marriage crowd a big ol' woody.

I'm still all about Wes Clark. I want to win in '08, and I think Clark is the goods. But I think Russ Feingold would make a spectacular addition to the ticket. He's got the intellect, the personality and the tools to step into the top job if necessary.


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