BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE
Republicans: Stuck in Own Muck
With the Grand Old Party experiencing its most precipitous decline in modern times, the very last thing it needs is a rusty old anchor pulling it down even farther. But that’s exactly what it’s got as it finds itself helplessly attached to a discredited and unrepentant Dick Cheney. Ironically, previously elusive and camera-shy, now that the former vice president is out of office, no one in the Republican Party seems to be able to shut him up.
Like a drowning man, he’s flailing about and willing, it seems, to take anyone down with him in order to save his own hide. He’s become a loose cannon, far removed from the ethic of team player that he insisted upon by all while he was in office. He’s a defense attorney’s worse nightmare. And his unabashed tendency for self-service over loyalty was clearly evident in a recent interview on CBS’ Face the Nation when he pointed the finger at former President Bush as being responsible for signing off on waterboarding.
Undoubtedly Cheney feels the gathering storm of accountability coming down upon him for what he calls "enhanced interrogation techniques" but the rest of the world is calling torture. His method of operation remains the same, however. Just as he did in his attempt to justify the invasion of Iraq, he’s using the shotgun approach in his attempt to justify the administration’s campaign of torture. But unfortunately for the GOP, in doing so, he’s giving the nation, and the world, a front row seat in observing the complete lack of character of one of the most reviled politicians in the history of this nation, and like it or not, the GOP feels forced to stand by him.
First, in an attempt to use Department of Justice lawyers as human shields, he claimed that DOJ attorneys advised the administration that waterboarding wasn’t torture. Thereafter, he tried to give the impression that he was selflessly trying to defend "the little guy" by insisting that the attorneys in question shouldn’t be held culpable for giving their best legal advice. But actually, he wasn’t defending "the little guy" at all–he was actually fortifying a bunker to protect Dick Cheney.
The only way that Cheney can keep DOJ attorneys on the reservation, and not have them reveal the genesis of their "legal opinions" in order to save their own necks, he must provide them with a cover for those opinions–a sort of, quid pro quo, like the one Scooter Libby thought he had. It is a must that he pull that off in order to hide behind the contention that he was simply following their advice as his cover. If he failed to protect the DOJ attorneys first, at some point in the future we’d undoubtedly hear Judge Bybee, former Attorney General Gonzales and others testifying that they wrote the memos because the vice president relayed a direct order to them from the commander and chief to do so during a time of war." That defense might not fly, but neither did their memos.
So just in case that tact doesn't work, Cheney is also trying to justify the use of torture (why deal in euphemisms?) by claiming that it was, and is, necessary in order to protect America. He contends that the Bush administration has kept us safe from attack for over seven years. But what evidence does he have of that? Both our Mexican and Canadian borders are like sieves. If Jose Gonzales can simply walk across the border, what prevents Osama Bin Laden from doing the same? What evidence does he have that Osama didn’t simply say, why waste perfectly good terrorist when Cheney and Bush are destroying America from within? The terrorists have done their part--they've created a situation that ignited the greed, corruption, and opportunism of the Bush/Cheney administration. Now all they have to do is sit back and watch America collapse from within. That's why we haven't been attacked.
Experts of every stripe dispute the claim that torture is an effective tool against terrorism, but even if it were partially effective, torture is against international law, and in direct contradiction of everything American stands for. The United States was not only a party to, but was a leader in hunting down, trying, and executing war criminals for indulging in that very same practice.
But even if we accepted Cheney’s position in this matter, how far should we go? If it’s all right to torture a detainee to protect America, would we be just as justified in waterboarding the detainee’s seven year-old daughter to get the detainee to talk–or what about placing her head in a vice? If not, why not--wouldn’t that also be justified in the name of protecting America? The reason we don't do such things is because such a practice would spell the total destruction of America as we know it. Once we go down that slippery slop, there’s no end to it. There are many who would say that American citizens who smoke weed are a threat to America. Should we torture them as well?
The problem with the Dick Cheneys of the world is that they fail to recognize that America is much more than a place on the map–it’s also an ideal. If the people of this nation picked up and moved to the North Pole, the North Pole would become America, because our American values would come right along with us. Conversely, if we desert those ideals, regardless to where we happen to be located, we’re no longer Americans. The ideals that Cheney espouse would feel much more at home in Nazi Germany, or Stalinist Russia. The day that America embraces them, will be the day the terrorists can declare victory over the United States.
America has begun to realize that fact. As a result, the nation is in the midst of a new awakening that has left Cheney, Limbaugh, and much of the GOP leadership with their proverbial pants down. That’s why the GOP is in such a flux, and all we hear from them is one resounding no–to everything. That’s all they can say, because due to the GOP’s heavy reliance on wingnuts, social bigots, and various other extremists, they’re now completely locked in with the Cheneys and Limbaughs of the world. That’s their only means of support. At this point, the closest parallel to the GOP position with respect to Cheney and Limbaugh would be having to stand as a character reference for Charles Manson because your family was being held hostage.
But it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving group of people. It’s next to impossible to feel sorry for the GOP because they’re getting exactly what hypocrites, demagogues, and social manipulators deserve. They've slipped in their own feces. Now, after basing their entire political careers on false patriotism, it’s going be pure hell trying to explain to their constituents why they supported two draft dodgers--Rush Limbaugh (a racist gasbag who avoided his military obligation by declaring a boil on his butt), and Dick Cheney (who had five deferments and indicated that "I had other priorities" when asked why he avoided the service)-- over Colin Powell (a decorated war hero, a Four Star General, former Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, and Sec. of State).
Neither of these two draft dodgers think Gen. Colin Powell deserves to be called a Republican. Well, I guess you can find an area of agreement with anyone, because at this point, neither do I.
A moderate is one who embraces truth over ideology, and reason over conflict.