22 May 2009

The ongoing conservative hysteria

In response to our most recent post critical of former Vice-President Cheney, wherein we demanded that members of the Bush administration actually provide concrete examples of tactics such as waterboarding having a positive effect on national security, a reader commented that perhaps I had fallen prey to the Changemaker's messianic aura.

What I'm starting to conceptualize is a stunning attitude on the right concerning the infallibility of the executive branch in the national security arena. The gospel according to Limbaugh seems to say two things:

(1) The reality -- as explained by Sen. McCain and exemplified by the disturbing example of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi -- that people who are tortured will say anything to make the pain stop is irrelevant.

(2) Anyone deviating from the Cheney/Limbaugh neoconservative dogma is either unconcerned with national security, or drinking the president's kool-aid, or both.

I understand that this is a debate sparking much passion, especially on the right.

But we are not the type of folks who can be painted into an ideological corner. When the writers on this site take issue with something either party is doing wrong, partisans on all sides should stop and take notice. We admittedly have spent quite a bit of time slamming the GOP, especially in the wake of the 2008 presidential election. However, it should have been made abundantly clear by now that we think President Obama is a hypocritical demagogue. Many of the statements and decisions of his first 100 days in office reflect the worst excesses of the far left.

This blog exemplifies why exactly it is that the Republican Party is in so much trouble. Each member of this team voted for Sen. McCain for president in 2008, and two of the three of us for President Bush in 2004. Since our inception in April 2008, we've been harshly criticized by both sides, as either kool-aid drinking liberals or hateful right-wing warmongers.

What we hope for is an actual, substantive debate on the crucial issue of enhanced interrogation techniques.

And surprisingly, it's been the left -- led by the Obama administration and its enablers in the mainstream media -- that has been willing to discuss exactly why it is that tactics such as waterboarding should not be used. And it's largely been those on the right who have been reduced to sweeping, spiteful generalities and inane logic. As recently as 2006, most of the nonsensical noise in the political arena came from the MoveOn.org wing of the Democratic Party. 

But, as noted previously on this site, now that the shoe is on the other foot, the self-appointed opinion leaders on the far right are showing their true colors.

I have listened closely to our president's justification for putting an end to enhanced interrogation techniques. He makes a mostly logical and articulate overarching case for his position, although it is a mistake to paint with such a broad brush and sweep a tactic like sleep deprivation into the same category as waterboarding.

Conservative response to the president's statements has been limited to "ticking time-bomb" and "executive power." That's it. The president, citing Sen. McCain, Col. Wilkerson and others, has discussed the harmful effects of torturing an individual to get inaccurate information (such as was obtained from al-Libi). Not once have I heard this point addressed by a thoughtful conservative. Nor have I heard a rebuttal to Col. Wilkerson's charge -- supplemented by a story that broke earlier this week centering around Alberto Gonzales -- that the Bush administration actually approved the utilization of waterboarding not to prevent an impending terrorist attack, but rather to establish a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda.

If the issue really is obtaining accurate information in the face of a potential attack on American soil, don't you think this is something that must be addressed?

Furthermore, scanning the ruins of the GOP in the wake of the Bush administration's exit, doesn't it bother you conservatives that the Bush administration effectively issued itself a constitutional carte blanche on wartime power after 9/11? Is this permissible with conservatives' conception of limited and divided government? (And no, Dr. Rice was not the only one to buy into this grandiose conception of executive power -- in fact, being one of the most politically moderate members of the Bush cabinet, one would have expected she and Gen. Powell to be the last ones to subscribe to such a theory.) 

Why has the alleged party of limited government allowed the likes of Cheney, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld to dictate such an expansive conception of executive power, virtually unhampered by checks and balances? Isn't this contrary to what Hamilton, Madison and Jay argued in the Federalist Papers, and contrary to everything conservatism stood for in the 20th century?

Why was it permissible for Cheney to describe executive wartime powers as "plenary"? Is this the only area in which it is ok for the federal government -- and particularly the executive branch -- to enjoy such wide, unbridled latitude? 

Why did most conservatives collectively shrug when it was discovered that the Bush administration engaged in the warrantless wiretapping of the telephone calls of normal, law-abiding citizens without going through the statutorily mandated FISA channels? Does it bother anyone that the FISA system was implemented largely because of the worst excesses of the Nixon administration?

Where was the conservative outcry when the Ashcroft Justice Department arrested American-born gang member Jose Padilla, designated him an "enemy combatant," transported him to an undisclosed location, and refused to charge him and provide him a jury trial, in explicit contravention of the Sixth Amendment?

I don't claim to have the answers to these questions. I simply don't understand how a swath of tens of millions of voters who still identify themselves as Republicans -- and who still invoke the name of Reagan in a call for smaller government and less regulation at nearly every turn -- allow such deference to a small group of individuals. 

And what's further frustrating is the fact that when anyone -- Republican or Democrat, libertarian, conservative or left-wing moonbat -- dares question a consolidation of power in one of the three branches of government, it is met with howls of criticism, and, inevitably, namecalling. It's baffling.

In Federalist No. 51, James Madison had this to say:

"In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable to the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself. "

And in 1775, Alexander Hamilton wrote this:

"A fondness for power is implanted in most men, and it is natural to abuse it when acquired. This maxim, drawn from the experience of all ages, makes it the height of folly to entrust any set of men with power which is not under every possible control."

Perhaps those excerpts only apply when a Democrat is in the White House.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you check out articles by Thomas Joscelyn at the Weekly Standard and Tom Maguire at Justoneminute, you find refutations of Wilkerson's allegations about al-Libi.