Is the GOP really becoming the party of torture? For the past several years I have been assuming that the torture would eventually stop for good, that both parties would disown what had been done, and that we would return to being a country of people who believe that all men are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. I felt especially hopeful when McCain, whose anti-torture stance was both adamant and personal, won his party’s nomination instead of Giuliani or Romney. The reaction to Bob Barr at CPAC, National Review‘s refusal to call a spade a spade, Thiessen’s interview on EWTN, and a hundred other considerations have forced me to realize that this assumption was unrealistic. The GOP seems to becoming a party whose considered, institutional policy is that we should torture everyone the executive branch suspects to be a terrorist.
I wrote some posts about torture last Spring when the whole blogosphere was talking about it, but like most bloggers I moved on to other issues. Less than a year later, despite what sounded at the time like deafening condemnation from all but a few shrill paranoids, those shrill paranoids seem to have convinced one of our mainstream political parties that selling your soul is a small price to pay for the illusion of perfect security.
With the recent release of the OPR report, I feel obliged to weigh in again somehow, lest anyone mistake my silence for an iota of consent. But the battle seems fundamentally lost, and I have personally lost a good deal of the stamina required to make the same basic arguments over and over again. Thank goodness for Andrew Sullivan and Mark Shea on that count.
So where do we go as a country from here? Does the opposition institutionalize and grit its teeth for the long haul, as pro-lifers did after Roe v. Wade? Should we prepare to open a new front of the culture war? Are we ready to slog away for decades with the hope of convincing our compatriots that torture is a discredit to our country and a betrayal of our most basic political principles?