A Compromise in Name Only
I'm very dispirited by the recent "compromise" reached by the White House and Republican "rebels" in the Senate. I had a brief hope that former POW John McCain, former JAG officer Lindsey Graham, and former Secretary of the Army John Warner might actually hold their ground against torture, but I can hardly say I'm surprised that the Prez won. He doesn't get to say that he's reinterpreting the Geneva Convention, but he pretty much got his way on everything else. Dan Froomkin's online Washington Post column from Friday is a good place to start for a round-up.
Pay no attention to the news stories suggesting that the White House caved in yesterday.
On the central issue of whether the CIA should continue using interrogation methods on suspected terrorists that many say constitute torture, the White House got its way, winning agreement from the "maverick" Republican senators who had refused to go along with an overt undoing of the Geneva Conventions.
The "compromise"? The Republican senators essentially agreed to look the other way.
Once again (see Monday's column) there was so much disingenuousness flying through the airwaves that straight news reporting simply wasn't up to the task of conveying the real meaning of the day.
He points to the Post editorial that, this time at least, gets it right.
But the senators who have fought to rein in the administration's excesses -- led by Sens. McCain, Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and John W. Warner (R-Va.) -- failed to break Mr. Bush's commitment to "alternative" methods that virtually every senior officer of the U.S. military regards as unreliable, counterproductive and dangerous for Americans who may be captured by hostile governments.
Mr. Bush wanted Congress to formally approve these practices and to declare them consistent with the Geneva Conventions. It will not. But it will not stop him either, if the legislation is passed in the form agreed on yesterday.
And where were the Democrats? NOWHERE!! They might not have any legislative power to be in a position to influence the "compromise," but it's not like they don't have a dog in the fight. Are they indifferent to torture? Then why didn't they at least establish a presence on the issue? I hate to suggest it's because they're useless, but it's looking more and more likely. Glenn Greenwald explains better than I can in Salon.
News accounts of the "compromise agreement" reached by political leaders on the torture issue barely even mention Democrats at all. It is as though we do still have a two-party system, but the two political parties are the White House and congressional Republicans. Democrats are like some quirky little third party relegated to an afterthought and quoted almost as an act of charity.
But nobody did that to the Democrats. They consciously absented themselves from our political dialogue because they were afraid to take any position, and opted instead to anoint John McCain as their proxy. We literally don't even know the views of the Democrats on these interrogation issues because they haven't told us what those views are. Isn't that just unfathomable?
. . .
And then one realizes that indulging the desire to see the timid, meek, frightened, principle-less Beltway Democrats get what they deserve (still more defeat) is something that our country simply cannot afford if it is to have any hope of avoiding passing the point of no return, where both our national security and our national character are fundamentally degraded in a way that is irreversible.
The "opposition party" is literally missing, silent, mute and invisible. And yet the only hope for reversing or at least halting any of this is to have that same Democratic Party actually somehow win an election and provide some desperately needed gridlock and balance and investigative processes to find out what our government has been doing. That is about as bleak of a picture as one can imagine.
For even more well-deserved venom on the issue, you can't beat Charles P. (Charlie, if you're a fan of Wait Wait . . . Don't Tell Me!) Pierce at Tapped.
You worthless passel of cowards. They're laughing at you. You know that, right?
The national Democratic Party is no longer worth the cement needed to sink it to the bottom of the sea.
. . .
This was as tactically idiotic as it was morally blind. On the subject of what kind of a nation we are, and to what extent we will live up to the best of our ideals, the Democratic Party was as mute and neutral as a stone. Human rights no longer have a viable political constituency in the United States of America.
I can't wait until next week, when there will undoubtedly be another pressing issue of national issue for them to turn their backs on.