Shame, shame, shame. If there were, incredibly, any lingering doubts left about just how low John McCain will go if he thinks it will increase his chances of winning the Republican nomination for president, I should think that this compromise bill on the meaning of the Geneva Conventions should go a long way to proving that there are, in fact, no depths Senator McCain will not plumb, and no principles he will not speedily abandon, if they gain him even a perceived political advantage.
If anyone should have had the balls of brass to stand foursquare against the use of torture in any circumstance, it should have been McCain, who knows from first-hand experience exactly what torture is like. And then there's the fact that he and Colin Powell and Lindsey Graham and the other opponents of the White House's imperialist fantasy were absolutely, 100% within the right. They should have had the courage of their convictions and stuck to their guns.
They did not. And unless we can inject some stiffness into an awful lot of Democratic spines, I'm afraid that our side will not, either. And that would be a truly awful outcome.
As I've already written to both of my senators, there can be only one moral, reasonable, rational, legal--and, I would argue, American--position on torture. That is that it is never permissible in any circumstances. No Congress, and certainly no imperial president with delusions of adequacy, can legislate or decree that it is permissible.
And I think that's a position that Democrats in Congress and elsewhere can--and should--get behind. Firstly because it's the right position to take, and everybody knows that. Secondly, because it forces the preznit and the Republicans into the very uncomfortable position of having to go on record as defending something that every decent human being abhors and which every civilized government has forsworn. Just let the Boy Who Would Be King go on national television and try to make a case for why torture should be legal, and the Democrats will win back both houses of Congress in 46 days in a landslide.
I am very sorry, but I cannot agree with the Senate Minority Leader, Harry Reid, whom the Times quotes as saying "Five years after Sept. 11, it is time to make the tough and smart decisions to give the American people the real security they deserve," that the compromise bill that will shortly come before the Senate is either a tough or a smart decision. And there's no way on God's earth that he or anyone else short of Jesus Christ himself will be able to convince me that the bill, if it were to become law (ὃ μὴ γένοιτο!), will do anything substantive to give Americans the real security that we deserve, but which the Bush White House and the Republican Rubber-Stamp Congress have done absolutely everything in their power to deny us these last six years and more.
Here, too, Senator McCain and his supporters had it right the first time. Once we've opened this door, we can no longer control who or what goes through it, or the direction in which the traffic moves. If we walk through it ourselves, there is bugger all that we can do to keep our enemies from following in our footsteps. That's not a place that any patriotic (or rational) American citizen should want to go.
My father served in the Army during the Vietnam War. Many of my cousins served, as my stepfather did, in the Second World War. Members of my family have been fighting this country's wars all the way back to the Revolution itself. What this bill says, in effect, is that the Bush White House and at least the Rubber-Stamp Republicans in Congress think it's OK for our enemies to torture my father, or any of my other relatives who have ever worn the uniform of our armed forces. Happily, that is no longer physically possible in the case of my family members. But what about the husbands, wives, children, parents, sweethearts, and friends of those hundreds of thousands of men and women currently wearing that uniform? Should not we--and especially John McCain--be doing absolutely everything within our power to see to it that they are never, ever put into the unhappy position of learning just what it was like for McCain in the torture rooms of the Hanoi Hilton all those years ago?
And so, again, I say shame on you, Senator McCain. Shame on you, Senator Graham. Shame on you, Mr. Preznit, you vacuous, toffee-nosed, malodorous pervert, you. And shame on the Senate Democrats if they let this execrable piece of legislation pass and be presented to the Boy Who Would Be King for his signature. Torture is not an American value. In fact, it's not a value of any kind. We should have nothing to do with it except to condemn it in the strongest possible terms whenever it is proposed, and to punish those who practice it to the fullest extent of the law. At least that's what a real American patriot would do. I can't speak for the part-time patridiots whose concerns seem to run only as deep as the cheap, made-in-Chinese-sweatshop magnets and crappy American flag decals they plaster all over their gas-guzzling SUVs.