Friday, May 15, 2009

The GOP is again the party of torture – and it might work for them

Fifteen months ago I wrote that the GOP wasn’t the torture party any more …

Gordon's Notes (Feb 2008): The GOP isn't the torture party any more

… Mitt "thumbscrews" Romney is gone. Even Ron Paul is gone. Only McCain and Huckabee are left.

McCain's opposition to torture is well known. But what about Huckabee?

In December he declared waterboarding was indeed torture.

Huckabee Chafes at 'Front-Runner' Label -

... Huckabee joined Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in declaring his opposition to the interrogation procedure known as "waterboarding," and said he would support closing the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a contrast with the other leading Republicans...

I'm surprised to be saying this, but the GOP isn't the pro-torture party they were in May of 2007, or even in November of 2007.

Every single GOP candidate that backed torture has been eliminated from contention.

Sure, the rabid right winguts of talk radio still pant ecstatically about the secret joys of agony, but their candidates are gone. Republican voters, after all, have a voice in what the GOP is.

Shockingly, it seems they don't like torture any more -- if they ever really did…

I was wrong.

Today Romney is running for 2008. Limbaugh and Cheney are ascendant. The GOP is the Party of Limbaugh, and the Party of Torture.

It’s not a foolish move. Torture is far more popular in America than I had thought (emphases mine) …

… 55% of Americans believe in retrospect that the use of the interrogation techniques was justified, while only 36% say it was not. Notably, a majority of those following the news about this matter "very closely" oppose an investigation and think the methods were justified.

We Americans are still in a very dark place. I am even more mystified by Obama’s victory. In the context of this support the GOP’s embrace of the joys of torture may make political sense. This is true even as, in one of history’s great ironies, the Bush team seem to be edging away from the torture policy.

This will be a long struggle. I believe Obama will do everything feasible to get us away from the road to oblivion, but he’s still got a huge uphill fight. Consider the short list of political problems he has to face

  • Americans don’t believe that radical change in the earth’s climate is a potential threat to civilization
  • Americans are completely unready to accept the best possible health care option - “Crummy Care”.
  • We can’t try prisoners who are alleged to have been directly involved in the 9/11 attacks because our torture practices make the cases legally illegitimate
  • Afghanistan and Pakistan
  • The collapse of the world economy, now running on unsustainable performance-enhancing fiscal stimuli
  • The ever falling cost of havoc
  • North Korea
  • India and Pakistan
  • The tenuous status of America’s legal framework
  • China’s political and economic stability (perhaps the greatest near term threat)

It’s a long, long road.

See also

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