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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Feingold *is* Mainstream

The national conservative media, national conservative bloggers, and the right half of the Cheddarsphere have been strutting around for the better part of a week crowing about how embarrassed they are by Russ Feingold, how far outside the mainstream he is, and how "fringe" he is. Here's just a sampling from the parts of the Cheddarsphere that I have seen:
  • tee bee: "It's official: Russ Feingold is tone-deaf, a step behind, and thinks throwing in with the crazy far-left will get him a seat on the '08 ticket."
  • DiGaudio: "Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Al Qaeda) couldn't be more alone if he were on a deserted island without Gilligan and The Skipper. [. . . W]e are used to him being a kook; now we are embarrassed by him. He isn't ahead of any pack. He is just on the kook fringe and playing to the peaNUT gallery (emphasis on NUT)."
  • The Game: "The MSM loves to call Bush and other people on the Right extreme or out of touch, or 'not mainstream.' What about Russ Feingold? [. . .] Russ was the only person to vote against the Patriot Act the first you think having NO ONE agree with you make you out of the mainstream?"
  • Wigderson, in the Freeman: "Democrats in 2008 may look at the company Feingold keeps, his die-hard opposition to the Patriot Act, his obsession with the NSA surveillance program, his premature call for withdrawal from Iraq, and they may start looking in a different direction for a presidential candidate – one with some credibility on national security, instead of someone who panders to the fringe left and conspiracy theorists within the Democratic Party. Before then, we might remember the overreach and ambition of another junior senator from Wisconsin and ask Feingold, 'Have you no shame?' "
  • Jenna: "He is alone on this issue, and he will be championed by and Kos folks--but that doesn't mean anything for a presidential bid. Will the left love him? Yep. Will he see tons of money roll in, that campaign-finance-reforming-Senator? Yes. Will he be able to win a general election with the far left? Of course not."
  • The vacationing Fred: "Like him or not, Russ Feingold is on the far left fringe of the left."
  • Wendy: "Russ Feingold: Leader of the freak parade that is the Moonbat Left."
  • P-Mac: "Do you trust the part of government trying to catch jihadists, or do you trust the one one-hundredth of the Senate that’s trying to gin up fear of the president?"
  • McBride: "After all, Feingold's increasingly far-left stances are defining the Democratic Party in a manner that helps Republicans."
  • Fraley: "Never intended to actually pass, the censure resolution has refocused the spotlight on Feingold, the "Maverick," and will help him with his presidential aspirations. [. . .] Feingold is not only raising money, he's building a list of the loony left."
  • Chris, to whom I am not allowed to link: "As Senator Quisling keeps bowing at the Moonbat Altar he is handing us the War Club we need to use to defeat him in 2010. [. . .] If we show those Blue collar Reagan Democrats along the River and Up north that Russ is a member of the Hollywerid crowd and a AntiAmerica Moonbat he will lose a lot of support."
  • And once again, my favorite, Rick Esenberg: "What this is [is] a hard left politician positioning himself to garner the support of the drum circle left."
I quote so extensively, not just because I like the copy-paste, but to try to show the magnitude of this argument from the right. Time after time after time, the right tries to marginalize anyone who raises uncomfortable questions about the conduct and activities of their golden-boy president as "far-left," "fringe," and "out of the mainstream." Well, here's a picture, so no one gets confused when I try to explain it words, later:

More Americans (though, admittedly, within the margin of error) would like the censure. And the language of the question is even neutral enough it ought to placate any of my rightly friends' concerns--it is a simple statement of fact. Now, I can see the complaints coming about the number of Democrats in the sample, but the right would still have to explain away how nearly a third of Republicans are the "far-left fringe of the far left"; are 42% of independents part of the "drum-circle left," too? Because, you know, that's a pretty big cricle. And, come on, 70% percent of Democrats favor censure--to suggest that Feingold is outside of the mainstream of his own party is just to flat-out lie; it seems more like our other Democratic elected officials (I'm looking at you, Herb Kohl) are fringier than Feingold is. (Update: A Newseek poll finds support for censure at 42%-50%, but I cannot find the wording of the question. Still, to suggest that 42% is "fringe" is absurd.)

Also consider the new SurveyUSA's monthly presidential approval survey, where Bush actually gets worse numbers than in the censure survey above. I realize this is the worst kind of apples-to-oranges thing, and Paul Brewer will be very disappointed when he sees me say this, but only eight states have approval ratings for Bush better than his no-censure number. Here in Wisconsin, Bush's approval rating is net negative 18%. Of course, disapproval is no reason to censure (and, indeed, Clinton's numbers were much better even at the height of impeachment); but it does put the lie to claims Feingold is more outside the mainstream of what people want, since the most recent SurveyUSA poll on senators landed Russ a net positive 18% here in Wisconsin--36% better than the president is doing!

It is not hard to believe that the right is pushing its "far left of the far left" idea. It is all they have, since they can't seem to accept the fact that 1) the administration is breaking the law; 2) the president is not popular; and 3) Russ Feingold is accurately reflecting the mainstream of the American public.

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