Censure a sop to the lefty fringe? A poll says no

Pollster: 46 percent of Americans -- and 70 percent of Democrats -- support a resolution.

By Tim Grieve
March 17, 2006 7:04PM (UTC)
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When Russ Feingold introduced his censure resolution earlier this week, the mainstream media portrayed it as a sop to the far left that will actually serve to rally Republicans around their beleaguered leader. The resolution is a response to the Democrats' "liberal base," the Washington Post said. The New York Times called censure and its more serious sibling, impeachment, "the dream of liberals."

We don't disagree with the "dream" part, but it may be time to rethink who it is that's hoping that the dream comes true. A new poll from the American Research Group shows that a plurality of Americans support the idea of censuring George W. Bush for "authorizing wiretaps of Americans within the United States without obtaining court orders."


Now, the American Research Group doesn't have the national reputation of some larger polling outfits. And a plurality isn't a majority, and this is a slim one at that: ARG says Americans favor censure by 46 percent to 44 percent, with a 3-point margin of error. But if you've read the mainstream media coverage over the last few days, you wouldn't have had any sense that something like half of the country might support censure. And as for all that "liberal base" and "left wing" business? The poll says 70 percent of Democrats support censure.

We'll wait for more polling before pronouncing final judgment on what Americans think. But if the ARG numbers are right, it seems that Feingold -- and not his "run and hide" colleagues in the Senate -- has his finger on the pulse of his party, and that censure isn't the loony left idea that the Republicans want to think it is.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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