Tossing Caution to the Wind

by Nick Welsh

Potential Democratic presidential candidate Russ Feingold
(pictured) — the outspoken senator from Wisconsin — pressed the
flesh in Santa Barbara last weekend, warning that continued
political caution by Democratic candidates could spell certain
defeat in the upcoming November elections. Speaking first at a
Montecito fundraiser and later at a Democratic Women’s luncheon,
Feingold said some leaders are “too timid” about standing up for
what they believe. The only senator to oppose the PATRIOT Act,
Feingold also voted against giving President George W. Bush war
authorization powers and, more recently, introduced a bill to
censure Bush for authorizing wiretaps on the telephones of American
citizens. This latter effort caused much embarrassment among
Democratic moderates and failed.

Feingold calls for the removal of U.S. troops from Iraq by the
year’s end, and predicts political success for any party that
achieves the withdrawal. He supported the invasion of Afghanistan
after the September 11 attacks because of the Taliban’s
well-documented support of Al Qaeda; by contrast, he said, Iraq did
not support Al Qaeda. Because the U.S. is enmeshed in war in Iraq,
he said, America is less able to respond to world crises. He argued
Hizbullah took advantage of this fact by launching its recent
incursions against Israel. Feingold also said that peace in the
Middle East is only possible if a Palestinian state is created.
When asked what his first actions would be if elected president,
Feingold said he’d end discrimination against gays and lesbians,
issue no executive orders that evade the law, and repeal all
current executive orders, which critics contend Bush has used to
circumvent Congress and minimize the checks and balances written
into the Constitution.


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