Friday, April 24, 2009


Torture's Double-Edged Sword

Okay, let's stipulate that getting mired into discussions of whether torture "works" -- or if what the US did to terror suspects in the months after 9/11 was, strictly speaking "torture" -- is not exactly at the top of the Obama administration wish list.  

It risks, as many have said, becoming a "distraction."  

But, is this really a discussion that the opposition party wants either?  Far more troubling for Republicans -- who should be trying to craft a forward-looking agenda -- is that the very little air-space in which the minority party is able to play is actually be taken up by the discussion of Bush-era policies. 

Consider what this debate has done:

1) It's made former VP Dick Cheney even more the face of the GOP than Rush Limbaugh could ever pretend to be. His interviews immediately eclipse anything from any Republican congressional leader or governor.

2) GOP leaders --  including Boehner -- are being drawn into this debate instead of offering alternatives on health-care, energy and other policies. The White House can handle a variety of issues at the same time. The minority party can't.

3) While the GOP feels that it is on offense when discussing national security and terror-fighting tactics, the fact is that ultimately the party is playing defense -- of the decisions made by the former administration. That would be an administration that is supremely unpopular, fairly or otherwise. 

Barack Obama, for all his obvious flip-flopping, at least appears reluctant to pursue the torture issue -- while continuing to push his main agenda.  But the the GOP seems eager to engage him on it.  As a result, the president looks like he's proceeding forPublish Postward, while Republicans are battling a war that most Americans want to move away from. Geez, even Shepherd Smith is dropping F-bombs over the discussion of torture. 

Conversely, Republicans end up defending something that sort-of-sounds-like "torture." In short, this strikes me as a lose-lose proposition.  

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