You are herecontent / Citizen Asks Senator About Impeachment, Newspaper Prints Exchange
Citizen Asks Senator About Impeachment, Newspaper Prints Exchange
Feingold fields questions on oil, war in Iraq and Supreme Court
Published Wednesday, October 12, 2005 11:12:34 AM Central Time
By Mike Leverton
Monroe Times (WI)
MONROE -- Conversation ranged from dependency on foreign oil, health care costs, Supreme Court appointees John Roberts and Harriet Miers to the war in Iraq when U.S. Senator Russ Feingold held listening sessions with his constituents in Browntown and Darlington Tuesday.
The Middleton Democrat said the listening sessions give him an opportunity to hear directly from constituents about issues and concerns. "I don't set the topic. It's important that people talk about what they want. This is my 929th and 930th listening sessions," said Feingold, who is in his 13th year as a Senator.
In his opening statements, Feingold gave an example of an idea he took from listening sessions and took before his peers in Washington. In spring 2005, Feingold publicly called on President George Bush to detail his plan for the conflict in Iraq. Months later, after speaking with Wisconsin citizens during listening sessions here, he decided to do more. In August, he publicly called on Bush to get U.S. troops out of Iraq by Dec. 31, 2006.
"When I came home in August and did about 18 to 20 of these listening sessions, I saw the anguish and despair people had, many who had supported the war. They wondered why the war was being handled so poorly. Had it not been for me looking into the eyes of some of the moms and dads of people who were voluntarily over in Iraq, I don't think I would have taken it this far."
When one constituent brought up the topic of credit cards and stated that credit card companies are raising the minimum payments that must be made monthly, Feingold said he feels the "anger" on the subject is escalating.
Another hot issue Feingold addressed was the country's dependency on foreign oil and its need to use renewable fuels. He treated the matter seriously but injected a little humor, too: "There are many things that could be done to provide energy -- the use of ethanol, fuel cells, wind power. There's a lot of wind in this country, not just in Washington. This is science and could change the face of the economy. The oil industry tries to shut down these ideas because they have a good deal now."
Tom Brantmeier, Monroe, asked Feingold why Democrats in Washington haven't called for impeachment of President Bush or at least a formal vote of no confidence. Brantmeier listed areas in which he felt the President acted with incompetence, including the war in Iraq, his failure with FEMA during the hurricane strikes and his failed energy policy.
"The first reason that people aren't calling for impeachment is that the standard for impeachment in the Constitution is not gross incompetence," Feingold responded. "The standard is high crimes and misdemeanors. I'm not afraid to call it gross incompetence. If we as Democrats take the approach to impeach him, I'm afraid it makes us look harsh and extreme. I think if we say that the country's been mismanaged and then provide a pragmatic, positive alternative, I think that goes farther than impeachment."
While he discourages the thought of impeachment, Feingold said he is intrigued by the concept of a formal vote of no confidence.
Feingold said it was hard at first to make a decision about Supreme Court Chief Justice appointee John Roberts. But discussions he had with others who knew Roberts assured him Roberts was "highly qualified," and he broke with party ranks to vote in favor of the appointment.
The senator said he hasn't yet decided about Harriet Myers, whose appointment to the Supreme Court has not yet been confirmed. "I'm not yet convinced about Harriet Miers but I'll certainly give her every chance to show that she's qualified for the United States Supreme Court," he said. "I need to be shown more to believe that this person is ready to spend the rest of her life as one of the nine justices. The three things I set for Roberts I set for her. A justice must be qualified for the highest court, be ethically sound and have the ability to be objective and independent."
Another topic that surfaced often during the listening session involved health care costs and health care reform, a subject Feingold said usually tops the list of domestic issues.
"I have always believed in guaranteed health care for all Americans by the federal government," Feingold said.
A few times while he answered questions, Feingold called the Democratic party the "party of performance."
"People want a party that can go out and get things done," he said.
Mike Leverton can be reached at