Friday, November 09, 2007

More tortured logic (and morality) by Bushies

I reckon National Review is probably known for loony commentators. Still this article from Deroy Murdock is probably a bit overboard, even for them.

However, I'd like to swipe a quote from deep inside it, because it establishes a very good point.

Meanwhile, President Bush is deeply deluded if he thinks opposing waterboarding will buy him any goodwill among the domestic and international Left, who hate him immeasurably. More quickly than the average Capitol Hill flip flop, Democrats who scream against waterboarding today will skin Bush alive if, God forbid, there is another major terror attack here on his watch.

“He didn’t keep us safe,” they will moan. “Why didn’t he stop this?” they will bellow. Instantly forgotten will be Bush’s very dangerous concessions to his domestic critics. His approval of the CIA’s 2006 request to ban waterboarding will give Bush absolutely zero protection if today’s soft-on-terror Democrats become tomorrow’s post-terror hawks. They will pick him apart like a hummingbird.

Now, let's establish something up front. Support for torture is based upon cowardice. See, a coward is someone who doesn't do the right thing because of fear, and it's clear that Mr. Murdock thinks that America should engage in morally repugnant behavior because of fear. But what fear?

His fear is not so much a successful attack; his thoughts immediately go to the political reprecussions of an attack! The Democrats will attack Bush if another attack occurs on his watch!

That's a really telling couple of paragraphs. First, it shows off the projection common to many on the right. They hate liberal folks, and so they claim that they are the persecuted people, being battered by the big bullies on the "Left". (I kinda like the capitalization; not just "left-leaning folks" but the Left. Where's my secret decoder ring?)

Second, let's be honest here. Bush was on vacation, and told by a desperate CIA agent that there was a real threat; we all know the response to that: "You've covered your ass." And Bush was ripped apart how badly, given that information? Well, he won re-election, didn't he? The only reason Bush has to fear another terrorist attack's political reprecussions is if it once again displays his incompetence.

Hm. Given that, maybe he has more to fear that I'm suggesting....

But zingers about Bush's incompetence aside, let's look at this mindset. Bush should engage in torture, despite its general lack of efficacy, because of the danger of political fallout. He might be "pick(ed) apart like a hummingbird" and that's a reason to engage in unlawful and immoral behavior. This is the same thing that Jack Goldsmith mentioned... that Bush was living in fear of another terrorist attack and being blamed for it.

This is extremely important to think about. You see, winning an election in this country doesn't mean you've been given a prize. It doesn't mean (as Bush claims) that you've got "political capital" to "spend". It means you have a chance to serve. It means you have been given an opportunity to work your ass off for the good of the people. And it means taking responsibility for the things that you've done, including the failures.

Do you remember how Richard Clarke started his testimony regarding the 9/11 attacks? He started with an apology, saying that he, and the rest of the government, had failed us. What was the Bush administration reaction? To vilify him because he opposed the Iraq war, seeing it as a distraction from the war against those who would attack us. Did the Bush administration apologize? No. Did they admit failure? No.

And now we see that there are multiple people on the right who view the political fallout as crucial to the Bush administration's moral calculus. It's okay to violate the Constitution with warrantless searches; it's okay to torture; it's okay to hold people and give them no chance to prove their innocence... because without those tools, those poor incompetent fools might be exposed... they might get blamed for the next attack to land.

Except that's not all, is it?

They also blew Valerie Plame's cover because her husband made them look bad. Valerie Plame was working on WMDs in Iran; she worked as a NOC, and had many contacts outside of this country. All of those contacts, and all of the work she did, are at jeopardy because of this. And they defended their actions as necessary to counter a critic... a critic who told nothing but the truth, and that, carefully qualified.

This is how morality is seen by the Bush administration and its supporters. It's good to defend the administration, even if it leads to reprehensible acts.

Apparently the only evil action is "losing an election". We can hope that the American people hand them this ultimate insult in 2008.

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