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Saturday, April 01, 2006

Herb Who?

Wisconsin, like all states, has two senators. The first you may be able to name offhand. He's been in the news quite a bit lately and he's mentioned often as a possible democratic presidential candidate for '08. Everyone these days knows Russ Feingold. Now - quick! - who's the other?

Most people would have to google up the answer. I'll save you the time. He's Sen. Herb Kohl (D). If you live outside of Wisconsin, it's very likely you've never heard of him. Herb's a low-key sort of guy - go with the flow, never sticks his neck out. If you want to follow the safest political course, Herb would be a great fella to follow.

That's why no one ever expected Kohl to back Feingold's measure to censure the president over his illegal wiretapping. Not that he's the only democrat out there without a spine - given the opportunity to hold the president accountable, most dems have run for cover. Herb's no groundbreaker here. Besides, he's up in this election cycle.

But, consider what he said about another censure resolution for another president.

"Still, President Clinton is not `above the law.' His conduct should not be excused, nor will it. The President can be criminally prosecuted, especially once he leaves office. In other words, his acts may not be `removable' wrongs, but they could be `convictable' crimes. Moreover, the House vote of impeachment--and the President's misconduct with Monica Lewinsky--will forever scar this President's legacy. Finally, the Senate can and should censure the President, and we ought make our condemnation of his conduct as strong as possible."

Geez, I know it's getting old, but why is it that covering up an affair is an earth-shattering event, while admitting to a crime - and worse, saying it will continue - isn't such a big deal? Herb's statement on declining to back Feingold:

"As the Senate continues to investigate the president's implementation of the domestic eavesdropping program, it is not clear that censuring the president is the most effective way to bring that program into line with our need to protect national security and civil liberties."

Wow. Talk about being underwhelmed. Is there some reason why you can't do both? Why not adjust the program and hold the executive responsible for breaking the law? I once said that between Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl, Wisconsin has two great senators - too bad they're both Russ. I generally don't like to make predictions, but I can make this one with 100% certainty - you'll never see a headline reading 'Kohl Shows Courage'.

(Keywords: politics, Wisconsin, senate, elections )