Balkinization  

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Party of Torture

Mark Graber

In light of the recent Democratic performance on the terror bill, might there be good reason for thinking that a future Republican president might be more inclined to protect human rights than a future Democrat. Consider the following logic. A future Republican president considering the appropriate level of human rights is unlikely to be influenced by the Democratic opposition. We know the Democrats will not put up much of a fight if they think the chosen policy does not protect basic rights sufficiently and the Republican is unlikely to have a rights policy Democrats think is insufficiently rights protective. Nor is it likely that any Republican will be too out of step with the Republican majority, even if they support a stronger rights policy than the present incumbent. And it does seem reasonable to think that McCain, maybe even Frist, would be slightly less barbaric than Bush. But think of the dilemmas of future Democratic presidents. If they adopt a stronger rights policy than the present incumbent, they will face sharp GOP attacks. And the fundamental political imperative of Democrats on the war on terrorism has almost always been to neutralize the Republicans so that the election will be decided on other issues (or Republican incompetence, which is not a policy choice). Far better for electoral purposes, the Clintons and Dick Morrises of this world know, to maintain and probably exceed President Bush's policies. No doubt this is a bit exaggerated, but should there be any doubt in anyone's mind that a president from the present Democratic Party will err radically on the side of superduper caution before supporting any greater rights for suspected terrorists, that a Republican would probably be more likely to support what their conscience thinks right, however misguided that conscience might be.

One should emphasize that, contrary to some rumors, Democrats have some backbone. Just show a Democrat thinking of running for the presidency a public opinion poll on support for bans on partial birth abortions and you will see backbone like you have never seen in American politics. They would never sacrifice a really fundamental human right merely to gain votes. But politics is politics and, judging from the action of recent Democratic aspirants for the presidency, we all know what they believe is the more fundamental right. If I switch parties now, maybe I can vote in the Republican primary.

Comments:

My question is: "What would you have Democrats do?" Harry Reid claims that he was two votes short of being able to filibuster. I am as disappointed as you seem to be frustrated.
 

Dilbatt: We'll see what the final vote is on the bill. If it passes by anything less than 60-40, then it's safe to treat every single "no" vote by democrats as amounting to nothing more than pandering to us (crazy dirty smelly islamofascist-loving hippies) on the "left" who absurdly believe that torture is evil and un-American.

I'm not any less pissed at Russ Feingold (whom I previously adored until today), nor Ted Kennedy (whose politics and statesmanship I admire, even if the man himself is a sad, drunken lech), nor Boxer nor Obama nor any of the other 41 sad empty moral cowards in the Senate -- in some ways, my absolute disgust and revulsion is far stronger towards Feingold and Kennedy and Boxer and Obama than, say, McCain or Lieberman or Warner or George Allen or whomever --

because (Rhodes Scholar) Feingold and (Harvard Law Review President) Obama, for instance, are both smart enough to have read the bill themselves and see what it actually does (whereas it's entirely possible that George Allen and Joe Lieberman, for instance, are both so stupid that they actually believe that it doesn't really codify the President's ability to torture and doesn't really give the Presidnet the authority to declare anyone (including U.S. citizens) an unlawful enemy combatant and hold them forever without trial), and they're also (or at least I thought they were until today) morally aware enough to know that the bill is evil in a very tangible sense.

As Edmund Burke said, "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." Or, in the similar words of Dante Alligheri, "The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."

I suspect Russ and Barack and Ted won't have to worry about getting cold when their soul shuffles off this mortal coil and on to their eternal reward.
 

Alright, now that the vote is over (65-34), I withdraw my above vitriol misdirected above at Feingold and Kennedy and Obama, and redirect it at Dems Carper, Johnson, Landrieu, Lautenberg, Lieberman, Menendez, Nelson (Fla.), Nelson (Neb.), Pryor, Rockefeller, Salazar and Stabenow -- and of course all the Republicans minus Linc "I always vote the right way when it won't make a difference in the outcome" Chafee.

But really at this point I really don't feel at all angry anymore, just sad and nauseous and numb and stupid. And like I could really, really use a stiff drink.
 

All Dem presidential hopefulls spoke out against torture and voted against the bill. All the republican hopefuls voted for torture. The majority of dems voted against it. Every single repub voted for it (except Chaffee)So why exactly do you think this proves republicans respect human rights more?
 

Far better for electoral purposes, the Clintons and Dick Morrises of this world know, to maintain and probably exceed President Bush's policies.

I so much wish that I thought you were exaggerating.
 

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