September 27, 2006

You've Got to Be Kidding

Sometimes the only thing to do is quote, so let's quote. Jack Balkin:
I am puzzled by and ashamed of the Democrats' moral cowardice on this [torture] bill. The latest version of the bill blesses detainee abuse and looks the other way on forms of detainee torture; it immunizes terrible acts; it abridges the writ of habeas corpus-- in the last, most egregious draft, it strips the writ for alleged enemy combatants whether proved to be so or not, whether citizens or not, and whether found in the U.S. or overseas.

This bill is simply outrageous. I doubt whether many Democratic Senators or staffs have read the bill or understand what is in it. Instead, they seem to be scrambling over themselves to vote for it out of a fear that the American public will think them weak and soft on terror.

The reason why the Democrats have not been doing very well on these issues, however, is that the public does not believe that they stand for anything other than echoing what the Republicans have been doing with a bit less conviction. If the Republicans are now the Party of Torture, the Democrats are now the Party of "Torture? Yeah, I guess so." Not exactly the moral high ground from which to seek office.
I don't actually know whether a strong anti-torture stance will help the Democrats win elections. But if it's an electoral loser, then elections probably aren't worth winning anyway. Because—surprise!—a country that tortures suspects who have no way to challenge their detention in court is still a sick and depraved nation even with Nancy Pelosi in the Speaker's chair. As Atrios says, if Barack Obama and other supposedly upstanding "faith-based" Democrats don't even try to put a stop to this thing, "that's the last time I want any fucking lectures from the faith and values [crowd]." It's all unseemly and shrill but entirely apt.
-- Brad Plumer 1:29 PM || ||