Dean Barnett

You have to give Russ Feingold credit - he’s a man of his convictions. It’s true that those convictions are misguided and borderline insane, but at least he has the courage to follow them.

In his latest outing as the Democrats’ Lone Ranger, Feingold has audaciously proposed legislation that will use Congress’ power of the purse to compel an immediate redeployment from Iraq. It’s an idea so radical, it actually makes Ted Kennedy fidget. Given that the physical act of fidgeting likely taxes Ted Kennedy’s aerobic capacity, you can be pretty sure that Feingold’s proposed legislation is way outside the political mainstream.

But again, let’s give credit where it’s due. Feingold has proposed a piece of actual legislation, not a mere resolution or a completely pointless non-binding resolution. Feingold is also doing all that he can to build support for his legislative effort, taking to the blogs and the airways like a Senator possessed. By putting himself out there in such a way, Feingold is signaling a willingness to be accountable for his legislation’s results. Given that those results would probably include the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents as Iraq instantly devolved into a state of affairs right out of Conrad, Feingold’s willingness to accept accountability is no small thing.

It’s too bad he lacks a worthy foil on the other side of the aisle. Wouldn’t it be nice if a Republican, any Republican, offered a piece of legislation that said in essence that we resolve to bear any burden necessary to prevail in Iraq? At this point, I’d even settle for a non-binding resolution to that effect.

THERE’S AN OLD SAW that all 100 Senators want to be President. The current Senate is disabusing us of that long-held notion. Most of today’s Senators don’t want to be president. They don’t want to lead. They just want to look like they’re president.

That’s what all these non-binding resolutions have really been about. Chuck Hagel boldly preened before the cameras of C-SPAN about the urgent need for all Senators to commit themselves to a non-binding resolution. For this shoddy piece of political showmanship, former Reagan speech-writer Peggy Noonan saluted Hagel’s "courage" on the Wall Street Journal’s website. We have surely passed through some sort of looking glass when lecturing one’s colleagues about a non-binding piece of legislative amusement gets perceived as courage.

All the resolutions in some regards are the same, be they of the relatively benign variety like the McCain resolution or the truly pernicious Warner resolution. All of them are merely vehicles that will enable their supporting Senators to look like leaders. Or at last that’s what they hope.

Dean Barnett

Dean Barnett blogs almost daily at He has also been a frequent contributor to the Weekly Standard's online edition, The Daily Standard. He can be reached for comment at

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