Sunday, August 21, 2005

Feingold Meets the Press

What's this? Three posts in a week? Am I overcompensating for not blogging for so long? Or preemptively overcompensating for all the not-blogging I may have to do because of law school? Perhaps. Or maybe it's just been a good week for Feingold fans.

For example, the Senator was on Meet the Press this morning to discuss his Iraq withdrawal plan. I thought about posting a notice about it yesterday night but I figured not many people besides me come here between 11 pm Saturday and 8 am Sunday. I didn't even catch it when it first aired, but I watched it when they replayed it on MSNBC at 9 pm central time. For those who didn't see it, the transcript is available here and a video clip is here, it's the second of the ten clips. And if you are really desperate to see it, I can send one of you the videotape I recorded it on when I was watching it. It also has the season finale of Gilmore Girls and part of Game 1 of last year's World Series, if you really want to see either of those, too.

Now, on to the show: what did you think about Russ's appearance? Please post away about that in the comments.

What did I think about it? Well, thanks for asking! You're so considerate!

I thought it was pretty good, on the whole. I think Senator Feingold tends to do pretty well on TV. I think his best assets on TV are that he comes across as a straight shooter (because he is one), and it's obvious that he's very knowledgeable, and he manages to stick to his point without ever seeming to lose his cool. Throughout the interview there were moments when it was clear that David Gregory (the moderator subbing for Tim Russert) was trying to get the Senator to say something that could be embarrassing or controversial now or in the future. I think for the most part the Senator avoided them (for example, pointing out the difference between what he is proposing and a strict deadline and not falling for that question about if we are more or less safe with Saddam gone.) Generally, I think there is something about his personality/nature that makes him able to usually avoid both the hair-splitting, nuanced Senate talk of John Kerry and the foot-in-mouth disease of Howard Dean (and I love Dr. Dean and think most of his "verbal gaffes" were blown out of proportion, but sometimes he walks into them.)

There is one moment that kind of worries me for the way it could play if Senator Feingold runs for President (though, it would depend on how the war plays out between now and then.) It comes from this exchange:

MR. GREGORY: But it still goes to the bottom line point, which is if the goals are not achieved, if there is still an insurgency, if there is continued sectarian violence, the prospect of civil war, do you then still advocate bringing troops home before their success?

SEN. FEINGOLD: Potentially. There are three different possibilities. One is the success, the very strong success, then we can come home by that date. The second is we get close to success and then we have to have a little more time. A third possibility is that the situation simply has become so inconsistent with our overall goal of fighting terrorists around the world that we may have to say, "Look, we have to come home anyway." But I think we make that assessment in time.

MR.GREGORY: Even if--even if it means effectively...

SEN. FEINGOLD: Potentially.

MR. GREGORY: ...admitting failure?

SEN.FEINGOLD: Yes, because the question here is do we succeed in the fight against al-Qaeda and the extremist elements around the world that are attacking us? That's number one. As important as the Iraqi democracy is and as wonderful as it is that we make progress in that regard, the most important thing is protecting the lives of Americans here and abroad, and if this Iraq operation is inconsistent with that, at some point, we may have to consider leaving. And that's why I'm hoping that we can create a time frame for success and then bringing home our troops.

The bold emphasis is on the part that kind worries me. It's hard to avoid images of some kind of attack ad (from the Republicans or a more hawkish Democratic primary candidate) with a grainy black and white picture of Russ and "FAILURE" in big letters talking about how Russ Feingold doesn't care if US troops fail in their mission, whereas Candidate X supports the war and the troops and believes America will always win and nothing bad will ever happen if s/he's elected.

It's really too early to worry about something like that, especially in an interview that I thought went pretty well, but after what happened to Howard Dean, you've gotta worry. (I'm especially think about how Dean's "the US won't always have the strongest military" quote was spun into "Dean is unfit to be commander in chief.")

Another part I found interesting was his response to Gregory's final question:

MR. GREGORY: Final question: Can an anti-war Democrat be successful in 2008?

SEN. FEINGOLD: I think a Democrat who cares about national security, who gets this right, a Democrat who says, "Look, this administration has lost its way and gotten away from going after those who attacked us on 9/11" and who is willing to say that the Iraq invasion had some problems and that what's going on now is a problem, I think all of that can be part of a winning candidate. But we do have to be strong on national security. We do have to show the American people that Democrats care deeply about protecting American lives. And without that, no, I don't think we can win.

I think this answer was the most clear indication that the Senator Feingold wants to run for President. He knows that Democrats are perceived by voters to be weak on national security and he is determined to counter this image, yet he is unwilling to do what so many Democrats are doing by either embracing the president's policy in Iraq or even trying to out do it (ie: calling for more troops.) In essence he is attempting to do the very difficult task of running for president as a strong progressive Democrat, opposed to the Iraq war, without appearing weak on national security. Can he do it? I don't know, honestly, but it makes me even more interested to see what his upcoming national security speech will say.

I could say more but I need to go to bed, I have classes tomorrow, but I'm anxious to see what others here thought about the MTP interview. Let me know in comments!



At 10:39 AM, Blogger Jerry Troiano said...

btw, i've put an mp3 of the feingold portion of Meet The Press over at

i think most your commentary is right on. i wouldn't be terribly worried about the "failure" label sticking. i'm pretty confident that feingold can always explain, in the clearest of terms, exactly what he means, and, being a genuinely honest guy, he has the added advantage of being able to connect with people, even though they may not agree with him 100%.

i though the sheer simplicity of feingold's response to the question of whether the "insurgents" would just wait the u.s. out until a set deadline is reached to try and take over iraq was great:
"And same thing with this taboo on talking about a timeline. It doesn't make sense. If the terrorists and the insurgents really thought that, why wouldn't they just stop blowing us up right now? Why wouldn't they just let us leave and then take over?"

At 2:25 PM, Blogger matthew christman said...

I caught some crucial parts of the interview and thought Russ looked great. His reply to the vacuous blather of Biden and Clinton was especially spot-on. I think that, with anti-war sentiment growing and the so-called "serious" Democratic pretenders (the aforementioned blatherers) totally enraptured by DLC mandates to sound TOUGH, totally out of touch with actual opinion outside the beltway, Feingold is going to become a figure around which clear-headed dissent will congregate. If he could just come out with a bold domestic health care proposal, it would once again exploit the cluelessness of "serious" dems who don't realize the massive groundswell of support for national health coverage among ACTUAL HUMANS as opposed to hypothetical voters as conceived by Al Frum.

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At 5:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 5:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Senetar Feingold!

Here are couple of quotes from ex parte milligan that you should quote from when you are debating the patriot act.

"The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times"

"The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times, [71 U.S. 2, 121] and under all circumstances. No doctrine, involving more pernicious consequences, was ever invented by the wit of man than that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the great exigencies of government. Such a doctrine leads directly to anarchy or despotism, but the theory of necessity on which it is based is false; for the government, within the Constitution, has all the powers granted to it, which are necessary to preserve its existence; as has been happily proved by the result of the great effort to throw off its just authority."

If you plan to Filibuster then read the entire text of this supreme court case. I belive that this will apply in this day and age!


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