Just as predicted

Russ Feingold’s censure resolution arrived with a muffled thud, and a splat.

Democrats distanced themselves Monday from Wisconsin Sen. Russell Feingold’s effort to censure President Bush over domestic spying, preventing a floor vote that could alienate swing voters.

A day of tough, election-year talk between Feingold and Vice President Dick Cheney ended with Senate leaders sending the matter to the Judiciary Committee.

It’s tough being a lefty. The poor bastards who spent all day “calling their Senators” over at “Fire Dog Lake” must be almost apoplectic at the ineffectuality of the move. Not only is the there a horrible “air escaping from a balloon” sound coming from the direction of Washington, the media’s barely covering this silliness.

The referral averted a debate and a vote that Democrats privately worried would alienate voters who could decide close elections.

Throughout the day, Feingold’s fellow Democrats said they understood his frustration but they held back overt support for the resolution.

Several said they wanted first to see the Senate Intelligence Committee finish an investigation of the warrantless wiretapping program that Bush authorized as part of his war on terrorism.

Asked at a news conference whether he would vote for the censure resolution, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada declined to endorse it and said he hadn’t read it.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., said he had not read it either and wasn’t inclined simply to scold the president.

“I’d prefer to see us solve the problem,” Lieberman told reporters.

Across the Capitol, reaction was similar. Feingold’s censure resolution drew empathy but no outright support from Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi “understands Sen. Feingold’s frustration that the facts about the NSA domestic surveillance program have not been disclosed appropriately to Congress,” her office said in a statement.

See? The Democrats feel your pain – they just don’t want to actually put their votes behind it. Next time, FireDogLakers, don’t call ‘em. Fedex them some Viagra instead.

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