This is not a day for supporters of John McCain or Barack Obama to be proud.
The current Attorney General of the United States, Michael Mukasey, refused to answer questions during his confirmation hearings about whether he considered waterboarding to be torture – although it’s clear by U.S. law that waterboarding is torture, and illegal. Once he became Attorney General, Mukasey said he would not prosecute anyone who had been involved in a conspiracy to commit waterboarding torture. Now we know why – Bush, having ordered waterboarding torture himself, was not about to allow any Attorney General to start a prosecution of the Bush White House’s criminal behaviors. In other words, George W. Bush would not allow the Attorney General of the United States to enforce the law – as his job required.
Oh, but that’s in the past, isn’t it? Let’s consider, then, how America goes forward into the future. Three of the four big-party White House candidates were members of the United States Senate at the time of the confirmation of Michael Mukasey. John McCain, Joseph Biden and Barack Obama had the opportunity to demand that Mukasey commit to enforcing American laws against torture – including waterboarding. So, which of them did so? Which of them stood up against torture, and voted against Michael Mukasey?
None of them did. McCain, Obama and Biden didn’t even show up to work in the Senate that day. They didn’t bother to cast a vote on the confirmation. They were absent when it came time to take a stand against torture.
Given this bipartisan neglect, how can these new revelations of torture ordered personally by George W. Bush be a relevant campaign issue? They can be – if we consider more than just the person of the next President, and consider the institution of the Presidency and the many people who will constitute that institution.
I am not a Democrat, and I am not a fan of the Democratic Party. Over the last eight years – no, the last sixteen years – no, since I can remember, the Democratic Party has failed over and over to support the progressive policies that its base voters support. They’ve consistently caved in to right wing ideology and pandered to extremism, operating as a center-right party.
However, the Democratic Party is not as far to the right as the Republican Party. The Democratic Party has supported torture less than the Republican Party has. I would like to state that the Democratic Party has consistently stood against George W. Bush’s torture policies, but that’s not true. Many Democrats in the U.S. Congress voted for the pro-torture Military Commissions Act, and the Democratic Congress has failed to repeal the terrible law.
However, there is a difference between the Republicans and the Democrats in their degree of support for torture. Many Democratic politicians, have acquiesced to torture. However, few Democratic politicians have been so enthusiastic in their support for torture as Republican politicians have.
Consider the slogan that appeared on the official web site of the Sacramento Republican Party: “Waterboard Barack Obama”.
That wasn’t an isolated statement. Consider the bumper sticker being sold by a web site called Americans Against Obama. It has the same slogan – “Waterboard Barack Obama”. Republicans are buying that bumper sticker.
Democrats have been gutless cowards refusing to stand against torture, but Republicans have been the cheerleaders of torture. That’s not the difference I would like to see, but it is a difference, and it’s enough of a distinction that I can’t ignore it.
Practically, what this means is that I think I’ll need to vote for the Obama-Biden ticket, and then, after Obama and Biden get elected, do everything in my power to push them to uphold the Constitution as they have been too timid to do in the Senate. I won’t be an Obama-Biden cheerleader, but I will also not be a McCain-Palin enabler.