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March 30, 2009

Comments

But since Petraeus won't be running in 2007/8, I'm not sure what relevance the behavior of Ron Paul's colleagues during that time has. It's perfectly easy to imagine the issue of torture ceasing to have the salience it once had.

I dunno. Nixon-China, Clinton-Welfare, Petraeus-Human Rights. In other words, the Pol's credibility runs so deep with his party's base, he's free to go where others fear to tread.

I don't know if Petraeus will have any star power on the right in 2012.

The Republican party seems to have already forgotten about the war in Iraq. It went from being a 100 year battle for civilization to a complete afterthought in the public discussion sometime last November.

"It's perfectly easy to imagine the issue of torture ceasing to have the salience it once had."

It's certainly easy to imagine, but there's no visible reason to think this will happen with leading Republicans in 2012: do you see any signs pointing in this direction, other than John McCain's rather wishy-washy position?

As for Petraeus running, he'd have to retire by sometime in 2011 to have enough time to run, and it strikes me as somewhat unlikely that he'd be inclined to quit his current job, given all his rhetoric. Moreover, if he did, I'm not clear how that would further support for a presidential run, since he would be rightfully accused of leaving his present job as commander of CENTCOM unfinished.

Lastly, I'm highly doubtful that a non-politician, with no political experience, and no politicians, high or low, owing said person any favors, could gain sufficient support in either party to get a presidential nomination absent circumstances changing dramatically.

please, let's not talk about the 20-friggin-12 election until we're at least done seating all the people from the 2008 election.

I think torture is a far lower priority litmus test than where he sits on abortion, stem cells, taxes, etc.

And I have no idea what he thinks about that stuff.

Wouldn't stop me from voting for him. Other things might, but not favoring torture sure wouldn't.

I think torture is a far lower priority litmus test than where he sits on abortion, stem cells, taxes, etc.

True, yet it still might queer the deal. At least, each GOP nominee other than Paul seemed to think so - even John McCain who flipped back and forth to appeal to GOP voters.

Wouldn't stop me from voting for him. Other things might, but not favoring torture sure wouldn't.

That's a good thing Brett, but you are the minority. Or at least, the candidates in '08 thought you were - or that there was little to gain by opposing torture.

Gary: The election of Obama is in itself evidence that torture has less salience than it once did. True, we are referencing the Republican electorate here, but eleven years after 9/11, nine years after the invasion of Iraq, four years after the economic shock of last autumn, there is some reason to believe that a Republican Party with no incumbent war president to defend or be emotionally invested in will see these things differently. Just one person's perspective.

With opinions such as those, it will be exceedingly difficult for a candidate - even one with Petraeus' pedigree and popularity - to make it through the GOP primary process.

John McCain?

(Spare me the argument that, by voting for a compromise bill on CIA interrogation techniques that also garnered substantial democratic support, he suddenly morphed into a pro-torture candidate.)

"Gary: The election of Obama is in itself evidence that torture has less salience than it once did."

With Republicans? How so? If the majority of Republicans had voted for Obama, that would be evidence. In the absense of such: what?

"True, we are referencing the Republican electorate here, but eleven years after 9/11, nine years after the invasion of Iraq, four years after the economic shock of last autumn, there is some reason to believe that a Republican Party with no incumbent war president to defend or be emotionally invested in will see these things differently."

Okay, so what's the reason? You're just repeating your assertion, without supporting it through other than repetition.

Spare me the argument that, by voting for a compromise bill on CIA interrogation techniques that also garnered substantial democratic support, he suddenly morphed into a pro-torture candidate

So I can't argue that by voting for a bill that authorized the CIA to torture, he was supporting torture. But I can use any other argument other than his vote on a bill that authorized torture.

Thanks Von. Let me see what I can come up with other than his voting record.

Um, Von, some of us remember what actually happened with John McCain on torture - i.e. that McCain actually was critical to maintaining the legal status of torture.

In one of the most evil performances I've ever seen by a politician, McCain put himself right out in front as the spokesperson for a centrist coalition that would ensure detainee rights and block torture, and then once he'd extracted the maximum possible adoration from the Goo-Goos for filling that role he quietly concluded a backroom deal with Cheney that sold out all the people he'd been allegedly leading in blocking torture, resulting in a cosmetic "compromise" that was in substance indistinguishable from what Cheney had wanted all along. And because of his earlier role "opposing" torture, because of his personal history, and because of the thinnest veneers of "compromise" in the final bill McCain got to keep his centrist and anti-torture credentials with the vast majority of the nitwits who allegedly report on our nation's politics.

I don't know that the anti-torture Senators could have blocked torture if McCain had never pretended to be one of them and to lead them, but it was clear that his transparently conspiratorial defection from their ranks to a "compromise" made further resistance impossible, because McCain had been built up in the national consciousness as the arbiter of what was sufficient opposition to torture, and he was proclaiming that a satisfactory compromise had been reached. This was especially true for a 2006 congressional delegation still reeling from the crushing defeats administered to opponents of the "War On Terror" in 2002 and 2004.

So no, I absolutely refuse to "spare [you] the argument that, by voting for a compromise bill on CIA interrogation techniques that also garnered substantial democratic support, he suddenly morphed into a pro-torture candidate."

"Petraeus made comments that ran afoul of one of the modern GOP's litmus tests: Petraeus suggested that he opposes the use of torture, and that he disagrees with Vice President Cheney when the latter asserts that abstaining from torture makes our country less safe."

Huh? As much as I'm not a fan of the Republican Party, I'm pretty sure that there isn't much evidence for a long term, pro-torture, deal-breaking, plank in the party platform.

The whole thing has been very dishonorable, indeed. But it seems pretty likely that the importance of the issue was a single election thing. Or at least we don't have two elections in a row of prominence to think that it is anything but.

On the substance of the post, Petraeus (assuming he actually has strong feelings about torture, which is not obvious however much he may be personally disinclined towards its use) will probably not get and flack from the Republicans for his opposition to tortures (assuming he actually has strong feelings about torture, which is not obvious however much he may be personally disinclined towards its use).
Anyone foolish enough to criticize Petraeus's willingness to fight "the terrorists" will get their rear end rhetorically handed to them, for obvious reasons. And because the Iraq situation is already deteriorating with the persecution of Sunni cadres that were supposedly going to be integrated into the state forces and with diminishing influence from Kurdish politicians, Petraeus will be in a strong position to run a "Who Lost Iraq" campaign.
The Bush legacy of chaos and poison that Obama has inherited is unlikely to result in an enduring Democratic hold on the Presidency, unless the American public is much more accurate in assigning blame than I tend to expect.

Warren Terra @ 5:27. Thanks for that. I didn't know as much of the background as you describe, but that performance -- massive positive coverage of heroic McCain (and Collins and Graham and someone else as well, if I remember correctly) when they stood up against torture, no coverage at all of the aftermath when they caved -- was disgusting.

Coming from Collins's state, I was extra specially disappointed in her. I never would have expected anything else from McCain (never liked or trusted him in the first place), but -- still too naive after all these years -- I expected better from Collins.

Gary: With respect, you're being petulant. I referenced the lack of an incumbent that is actively defending a policy of torture. You regard that as repetition; it is not.

Eric and Warren:

You can and should judge John McCain on his votes, but your current talking points do not reflect John McCain's votes.

For instance, if you intend to accurately present John McCain's position, you need to do more than (misleadingly) allude to his vote Intelligence Authorization Act of 2008. (That's the bill that sought, among other things, to apply the Army Field Maual to the CIA.) You should also mention that McCain co-sponsered the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, despite considerable opposition from the White House, which ended torture in and by Army officials. Candor should also require you to acknoweldge that McCain voted against the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2008 not because he approved of torture, but because he felt that it was inappropriate to apply the Army Field Manual to the CIA. If you stop and think about, there is no necessary contradiction between these two positions.

You might also note that, were this vote so important, Obama and Hilary Clinton might have taken some time off from their campaigns to, y'know, actually participate in it. Because neither voted for the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2008.

By failing to address the issue (Eric), you grossly overestimate the importance of "torture" to the Republican party. For all I know, Petraeus is a Democrat. But his position on the Army field Manual is 100% consistent with McCain's voting record, and on-point, immediate history (McCain's nomination) contradicts your claim that torture will sink any Petraeus candidacy. So your analysis is not very useful.

Warren ends up spouting an alternative history that, when put in context, is the blog equivalent of a brown dwarf. Lots of heat, little light.

Von,

Let me see if I have this straight:

McCain's voting record was more consistently opposed to torture prior to 2008, in which he switched and supported a bill that did not guarantee detainees protection from CIA torture.

And this is evidence that he didn't feel pressured by his presidential run to alter his position on torture.

OK.

You folks elevate the importance in your own eyes of issues important to you when those same issues are likely to be insignificant in the selection of the next republican presidential candidate. As a matter of fact, I think the issue of torture was not as significant to republican voters in the last election as played here. Mostly democrats were move by this.

It is true that I'm referring to 2006 events and not to the 2008 events that Von seems to think are the be-all and end-all of politicians' records on torture.

It's also true that I tend to achieve excessive and ineffective levels of heat when someone persists in telling me that McCain is an opponent of torture. I do try to remain moderate in expressing my beliefs on the subject, and although I did use some nasty words like "evil" I don't think my meaning was so completely obscured as to have indeed left Von in the metaphorical dark he invokes.
I'm not sure what Von means when he says that I am presenting an alternative history; does he dispute the basic facts of my narrative, as referring to events in 2006? I concede that I can't prove my sincerely held belief that McCain planned his betrayal of the pro-habeas forces from the beginning, but does Von dispute that McCain indeed first led and then betrayed the anti-detainee-abuse faction?

P.S. I note that Von is very concerned that McCain's refusal to join the only available avenue to block torture in 2008 not be held against him, because McCain disagreed about methods. Fine, though hardly to his credit (not that Obama or Clinton's absences are to theirs). And I will scarcely deign to dignify Von's praise for a 2005 bill that, in the wake of public outrage over the military-led abuses at Abu Ghraib and other, less widely publicized revelations of soldiers torturing detainees to death, decided that torture was still just fine and dandy but sohuld be performed by professionals capable of keeping their mouths shut. Yay McCain.

As a matter of fact, I think the issue of torture was not as significant to republican voters in the last election as played here.

Then what is your explanation for why the Republican candidates engaged in that unseemly one-upmanship on the subject? Were they all as ignorant of GOP voters' desires as us poor liberals apparently are?

GF--you write, " I'm highly doubtful that a non-politician, with no political experience, and no politicians, high or low, owing said person any favors, could gain sufficient support in either party to get a presidential nomination absent circumstances changing dramatically."

I think a Petraeus-like person would appeal to any party that has had its ass handed to it repeatedly and had nowhere else to turn--the Republican party seems to fit this bill. Obama is some proof of the phenomenon--it wasn't his CV that got him elected, it was, for many, his star quality and the fact that he really did seem to be different in a way that people wanted. If Hillary or any of the other Dem candidates had won the nomination, McCain would have had a much better shot at winning.

If Colin Powell had been willing to run for president, he would have beat GW like a drum and recent history would have run a much different course. Powell seems to fit your definition of someone neither party would be interested in.

Put differently, the Reps are going to have to go outside their party to get a candidate anyone but the party hacks care about. I don't see anyone on the horizon. Of course, a lot rides on Obama's very ambitious programs gaining traction and not making things worse.

On the larger question of people giving a damn about torturing someone like KSM, or giving a damn about a candidate who favors torturing KSM, that vote will depend on proximity in time to the last terrorist attack on US soil or citizens. The 'no torture ever, regardless of the circumstances' was a minority view across the political spectrum in late 2001.

"Gary: With respect, you're being petulant."

With respect, I'm not.

"I referenced the lack of an incumbent that is actively defending a policy of torture."

And I fail to see how that's relevant to the question of what it takes to get the Republican nomination. We're not talking about the general election, or the Democratic nomination, but getting the Republican nomination. Last I looked, the current incumbent didn't do that.

But we are both just repeating ourselves, so I'll leave this as my final word with you.

Von: " Candor should also require you to acknoweldge that McCain voted against the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2008 not because he approved of torture, but because he felt that it was inappropriate to apply the Army Field Manual to the CIA."

Sure, McCain only approved of torture by the CIA. How is that not approval of torture, exactly?

And what the fact that there are lots of pro-torture Democrats has to do with McCain's support for torture, I don't know.

"As a matter of fact, I think the issue of torture was not as significant to republican voters in the last election as played here. Mostly democrats were move by this."

Sure, and it reflects so well on Republican voters that they, at best, mostly don't care whether the United States of America adopted, literally, Gestapo/KGB torture techniques.

McIT: "The 'no torture ever, regardless of the circumstances' was a minority view across the political spectrum in late 2001."

Probably so. How proud it makes me of America.

"I think a Petraeus-like person would appeal to any party that has had its ass handed to it repeatedly and had nowhere else to turn--the Republican party seems to fit this bill."

It might. I'm inclined to think as many Republicans of recent years would sit on their hands as did last year with McCain, but it's true that someone like Petraeus might get the nomination. And could even win. Circumstances control, after all.

"If Colin Powell had been willing to run for president, he would have beat GW like a drum and recent history would have run a much different course."

Perhaps. Would that it would have been so.

I think Petreus is about as likely to win a nomination as Wesley Clark was...

He would be potentially valuable as a second seater, but it is hard to see him at the top of a ticket.

And it is not like we have had great success with former generals as president...Washington perhaps an exception, but I think he was much more of an insider before getting his fame.

"And it is not like we have had great success with former generals as president..."

I have plenty of criticisms of President Eisenhower, but we've certainly had plenty worse presidents.

Gary: You seem to think that every new point, whether made by you or me, is an instance of repetition. So be it. I was responding to Eric's implication that 2007 conditions describe 2011 realities. With a new president, with the Republicans newly out of power, with the global war on terror in a very different phase, with troop levels in Iraq much reduced, with Guantanamo (presumably) closed, with fresh new economic crises crowding torture out of the headlines, the burden is really on him to explain why the Republicans will behave in a 2007 mode in 2011. I think it's a weak premise. Since we're speculating about the future, I think it's silly to ask me to furnish "evidence" but I tried. I mentioned how the party won't be directed by George Bush in 2011, and indeed will be acting in opposition to a Democrat in the White House, named Obama.

You response to this was to point out that Obama isn't a Republican. Thanks for that. Not my idea of powerful debate.

I wish I could say it's been nice parrying with you, but it hasn't been. Bye.

And it is not like we have had great success with former generals as president
It's true that they haven't tended to be great Presidents (bookended by some notable exceptions), but there have been many generals in our Presidential elections, with some notable electoral successes. I present below a list partly from Wikipedia entries on 19th century Presidents but largely from memory (so I've likely missed many important defeated or discarded generals with political ambitions, through ignorance):

Elected
George Washington
Andrew Jackson
William Henry "Tippecanoe" Harrison
Zachary Taylor
Ulysses S Grant
Rutherford Hayes (elected to Congress as a General)
James Garfield (elected to Congress as a General)
Benjamin Harrison (elected to local office while still a Colonel)
Dwight Eisenhower

Defeated
John Fremont
Wesley Clark (for his party's nomination)

Highly touted, never ran
George Dewey (Admiral, not a General)
Douglas MacArthur
Colin Powell

One could make a case for adding Theodore Roosevelt, as for all his brilliant career before getting on McKinley's ticket he was perhaps most famous for his antics in the Roughriders, but that was as a Colonel, not a General, he wasn't elected President (until re-election, of course), and he really did have a brilliant career prior to his direct involvement in the Spanish-American war.
One could also make a case for Herbert Hoover, who got his start in public life as a very important figure in wartime coordinating relief efforts, migration, and later reconstruction in WWI, but that was of course all done as a civilian.

Suffice it to say that a lot of Presidents have been Generals, although it hasn't been terribly frequent recently; indeed, the last Presidential election won by the candidate with more military experience was 1988.

but there have been many generals in our Presidential elections, with some notable electoral successes.

I suppose I should have qualified that as Generals who went more or less directly to the presidency, rather than through other elected office.

I don't think being a successful general is a disqualifier, it is just not sufficient...particularly today where generals are not essentially military governors of wide territories as may have been more likely in the past (because easy, fast communication no longer requires them to make the types of decisions that the political leaders should make).

Eric and Warren, I stand by my prior comments & don't think any further response is needed. On the broader issue, I'm a bit touchy on cricitisms of McCain. He has been a leader on dragging the party to the center on so many key issues -- torture, the environment, immigration, etc. His nomination makes other nominations possible.

Bottom line: I hope that I'm spectacularly wrong about all of this. I hope that by the time 2011 rolls around, Republicans will oppose torture and will consider its prior use to be a dark chapter that they wish to put behind them.

But the fact is, currently, there are very few Republican lawmakers and pundits that oppose torture. You can just about count them on one hand.

Quite the opposite in fact.

Currently, Dawn Johnson is being held up because GOP lawmakers are uncomfortable with her position opposing torture. It was also a problem for Eric Holder. GOP lawmakers wanted him to agree, on the record, that waterboarding is completely acceptable prior to confirmation.

In the punditry, piece after piece is written by everyone from Marc Reul Gerecht to Deroy Murdock in defense of torture - from Gerecht's umpteenth iteration of the tendentious ticking time bomb scenario, to Murdock's lament that Bush didn't waterboard more detainees. Today we got Thiessen's dishonest defense of the torgure of Abu Zubayda.

So let's just say I'm not optimistic but, again, hope that I'm spectacularly wrong.

As for McCain, I stand by my point: I think that he, deep down, knows torture is wrong, but felt he had to water down his position and allow for CIA torture due to his fear of alienating the GOP base. And so he did. He went from a blanket, unmitigated condemnation of torture to endorsing a loophole a mile wide. His regression on this issue was telling.

That was my larger point: the base loves them some torture, and will make it hard on any heterodox beliefs on this subject.

But by all means GOP: Prove me wrong. Please!

He has been a leader on dragging the party to the center on so many key issues

He gave up all that, years ago, and allowed himself to be dragged to the far right by the party, if indeed he ever really meant his centrism.

"Currently, Dawn Johnson is being held up...."

That's "Dawn Johnsen," actually.

Her too!

I think Republicans' embrace of torture may continue because it's become a symbol of so many things for them. It's (bizarrely) become a symbol of courage and manliness: 'we torture because we're not afraid to be unpopular rule-breakers'. It's also become a symbol of American exceptionalism: 'we torture to keep Euroweenies safe'. And in some cases it's become a symbol of pragmatism: 'we torture because we live in the real world, not the airy-fairy one of the liberals where there are no bad guys out there'.

In other words, torture has now come to hold the ideological/rhetorical place that war once held for Republicans (perhaps because Democrats have proved so willing to embrace war themselves). So I don't think their commitment to it will go away anytime soon).

Note that the generals who've been successful in politics were winners; Harrison and Jackson won the biggest American victories of the semi-disastrous War of 1812. No generals from Korea or Viet Nam have been serious presidential contenders, and I suspect the same will be true of Iraq and Afghanistan.

John McCain's cave-in on torture was the clearest possible indictment of the man's character. It indicated that that he has literally no principles he isn't willing to sacrifice for political gain. Like Bush, he's entitled and petulant, with serious daddy issues and a history of failing upward. However, unlike the bulk of his fellow warmongers, he put his own ass on the line, and suffered mightily for it. I'm inclined to think that dodging Vietnam was more patriotic than signing up, but I reserve a special distaste for cowards that avoided serving and then advocate that other mother's sons ought to go and die for whatever it is they think they're trying to achieve.

I figured, though, that at least John McCain knew personally that torture didn't work. After all, he only gave up the names of the defensive line of the professional football team of whichever city in which he was stumping in. He knew from experience that it was cruel and inhuman. He still held a bitter hatred for those who inflicted it on him and his buddies. He had the experience seared in his brain and the scars to prove it. Good on him. Using his status as an American Hero, he could act as a brake on the rush to abandon all of our principles. The line between civilization and savagery.

And then he caved to the Bushies. He decided to give cover to the sociopaths to gain a small edge in his political ambitions. Words cannot adequately express my contempt for the man.

Eric,

I simply don't think it's credible to say that Republicans will not nominate a candidate who is not pro-torture, when in the most recent cycle, the one in which you cite the "points" Romney got for saying he wanted to double Guantanamo, they nominated John McCain. I agree with the posters above that John McCain showed his willingness to abandon his principles for cheap political gain during this election, and one of the ways he did so was the "compromise" on the CIA bill, but the reason that was so startling was that McCain was an anti-torture candidate.

You can argue that he felt obliged to "water down" his position, but he was still an anti-torture candidate. As Terra says above, "in the final bill McCain got to keep his centrist and anti-torture credentials." That's the guy the Republicans nominated and voted for.

I would be quite happy if the Republicans continued to froth at the mouth on torture because that would ensure (absent another 9/11) that my preferred candidates will be elected. But I can't see the merit of this post given John McCain. It may well be true that there is a small pool of anti-torture Republicans, but that's a different argument than that Petraus is now unacceptable because of his remarks on torture.

The CIA exception is an immense loophole for torture in a way that not many people realize: Regular military can be deputized on short notice and for indefinite periods as CIA personnel. In practice, Special Forces members often have been in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The CIA exemption reinforces the mistaken belief, highly useful to the permanent-war-addicted executive branch, that torture has anything to do with actual intelligence gathering.

Huh? As much as I'm not a fan of the Republican Party, I'm pretty sure that there isn't much evidence for a long term, pro-torture, deal-breaking, plank in the party platform.

Sebastian, if you'll provide a list of sitting GOP officeholders who have announced their opposition to torture (including "enhanced interrogation techniques" that the rest of the world properly calls "torture"), then I'll be reassured that the GOP is not in fact the party of torture.

I would think it matters less whether McCain is, or is not, anti-torture in fact or behavior. What matters is how he is perceived by the members of the Republican party. And there he shows up on the anti-torture wing. Most Americans do not follow the contents of bills, or who votes for them, so they are unaware of who actually is voting for or against torture.

Furthermore, I suspect that the pro-torture stance we've seen in the past years is less some core Republican value than a reflexive defense of the Bush Administration. As such, as time passes, and especially if there are no major terrorist attacks, the issue is likely to lose much of its significance.

"McCain knew personally that torture didn't work. After all, he only gave up the names of the defensive line of the professional football team of whichever city in which he was stumping in."

I don't know why people say things like this. John plainly explained in his memoir that torture worked on him, and he gave up information and signed statements. The only thing he didn't do was accept an early return, which would have ruined any future possible military or political career in the U.S. But otherwise he completely gave up what the enemy wanted, as he explained when he returned.

[...] I think it was on the fourth day that two guards came in, instead of one. One of them pulled back the blanket to show the other guard my injury. I looked at my knee. It was about the size, shape and color of a football. I remembered that when I was a flying instructor a fellow had ejected from his plane and broken his thigh. He had gone into shock, the blood had pooled in his leg, and he died, which came as quite a surprise to us—a man dying of a broken leg. Then I realized that a very similar thing was happening to me.

When I saw it, I said to the guard, "O.K., get the officer." An officer came in after a few minutes. It was the man that we came to know very well as "The Bug." He was a psychotic torturer, one of the worst fiends that we had to deal with. I said, "O.K., I'll give you military information if you will take me to the hospital." He left and came back with a doctor, a guy that we called "Zorba," who was completely incompetent. He squatted down, took my pulse. He did not speak English, but shook his head and jabbered to "The Bug." I asked, "Are you going to take me to the hospital?" "The Bug" replied, "It's too late." I said, "If you take me to the hospital, I'll get well."

[...]

When I said that, the guards, who were all in the room—about 10 of them—really laid into me. They bounced me from pillar to post, kicking and laughing and scratching. After a few hours of that, ropes were put on me and I sat that night bound with ropes. Then I was taken to a small room. For punishment they would almost always take you to another room where you didn't have a mosquito net or a bed or any clothes. For the next four days, I was beaten every two to three hours by different guards. My left arm was broken again and my ribs were cracked.

They wanted a statement saying that I was sorry for the crimes that I had committed against North Vietnamese people and that I was grateful for the treatment that I had received from them. This was the paradox—so many guys were so mistreated to get them to say they were grateful. But this is the Communist way.

I held out for four days. Finally, I reached the lowest point of my 5½ years in North Vietnam. I was at the point of suicide, because I saw that I was reaching the end of my rope.

I said, O.K., I'll write for them.

They took me up into one of the interrogation rooms, and for the next 12 hours we wrote and rewrote. The North Vietnamese interrogator, who was pretty stupid, wrote the final confession, and I signed it. It was in their language, and spoke about black crimes, and other generalities. It was unacceptable to them. But I felt just terrible about it. I kept saying to myself, "Oh, God, I really didn't have any choice." I had learned what we all learned over there: Every man has his breaking point. I had reached mine.

I've posted this here several times now over the past couple of years. One can read about it in McCain's Wikipedia entry, or zillions of other places. Yet this myth from the campaign that McCain never broke, this lie that he himself said wasn't true, continues.

The issue isn't whether torture will ever work or not, because often it won't, but sometimes it will. The issue is that torture is morally wrong. We have no values to defend if we torture.

It's that simple.

And will people please quit repeating this lie about how McCain never broke under torture?

"Sebastian, if you'll provide a list of sitting GOP officeholders who have announced their opposition to torture (including "enhanced interrogation techniques" that the rest of the world properly calls "torture"), then I'll be reassured that the GOP is not in fact the party of torture."

That's nice, except it really doesn't address the actual question of how valent the issue is. (And can you provide me a list of a majority of Democratic legislators that actively opposed torture when it was important? Of course not, because almost all of them were silent on the issue.)

I note, that torture has not historically been a large issue for either party.

I note, that in a single election it seems to have been somewhat relevant for Republicans.

I note, that in that single election, the most pro-torture candidates did not in fact win the Republican nomination.

I note, that this suggests that torture is not the be all and end all and in fact perceptions of its importance to the voters EVEN AT THE TIME may have been misperceived.

I note, that there is little to nothing to suggest that the factors which made torture a valent topic in 2007-08 (including perhaps most importantly that we were still doing it) will still be important in 2011-12.

I extrapolate from that, that if Petraeus is A) an otherwise suitable candidate, and B) interested he won't be held back by that stance.

All that seems pretty logical to me.

If you disagree with one of those things, tell me where you think I fall off the track and we can discuss it.

Nice list, Sebastian.

It rather obviously is not a list of Republican officeholders who have publicly expressed their opposition to torture.

Point to Anderson.

"It rather obviously is not a list of Republican officeholders who have publicly expressed their opposition to torture.

Point to Anderson."

The question was whether or not mere opposition to torture would be enough to sink Petraeus. So if points that aren't on point count, he's a winner.

You rather obviously haven't bothered to point out where you disagree with me. Sounds like you are more interested in charting points than engaging in discussion...

von: He has been a leader on dragging the party to the center on so many key issues -- torture, the environment, immigration, etc.

I find it laughable -- actually, honest-to-goodness, laugh-out-loud-because-the-alternative-is-to-cry laughable -- that you think McCain dragged the Republicans to the center on torture instead of folding like a cheap suit to the right-wing extremists.

Problem is, I can't decide whether that's a) because it's completely false, or b) because it's completely true, and the "centrist" position in America really is that it's ok to torture people as long as we pretend we don't.

Does anyone think Rush Limbaugh is going to denounce torture and torture supporters and enablers any time soon?

No?

Then obviously, no one who actively opposes torture is can be a successful Republican nominee for President.

See, Von, Sebastian, you've got to pay attention to what the real leader of your party thinks and says.

I think Republicans' embrace of torture may continue because it's become a symbol of so many things for them...

There is another reason they will continue to embrace torture: they have embraced it, and they never admit they were wrong on anything.

That said, I can see Petraeus' opposition to torture not being a deal-breaker with the GOP; Nixon went to China and all that. They have more than enough cognitive dissonance to embrace Petraeus and say that torture was the right thing to do at the time.

"With opinions such as those, it will be exceedingly difficult for a candidate - even one with Petraeus' pedigree and popularity - to make it through the GOP primary process. Recall, during the last go around, each candidate (other than Ron Paul) took turns trying to outdo the other in their emphatic support for the use of waterboarding and other torture techniques."

Do you really think Petraeus is going to be outflanked by anyone on ANY issue concerning national security? What is Palin going to say? "Petraeus doesn't know what I know, gosh darn it!" Politically speaking, Petraeus is safe to say whatever he wants on this issue. Any of the other potential candidates(most of whom are muppets) will be ridiculed for trying to school him on issue concerning his military acumen/patriotism. Most of the country is against torture, I imagine most Republican leaning voters are too (at least potentially), they just want a charismatic leader to let them know its okay.

I think this is a very shrewd move on the general's part.

Let's wait to see what he says about abortion before ruling him out...

Do you really think Petraeus is going to be outflanked by anyone on ANY issue concerning national security? What is Palin going to say? "Petraeus doesn't know what I know, gosh darn it!"

Why not? You can see Russia from her house!

Besides, when it comes to "national security", the Republicans invariably prefer image over reality: look at 2004, when they dissed and insulted a genuine military hero and preferred a deserter who, er... looked very butch in a flight suit.

Any of the other potential candidates(most of whom are muppets) will be ridiculed for trying to school him on issue concerning his military acumen/patriotism. Most of the country is against torture, I imagine most Republican leaning voters are too (at least potentially), they just want a charismatic leader to let them know its okay.

Didn't do Colin Powell a bit of good.

Again: I hope I'm wrong, but watching the last election, there was a contest to see who would start wars with more countries, show greater disregard for habeas corpus, torture more, etc.

It would seem that there was room for such a figure to come in and swoop up the majority of GOP voters - who, as you suggest, happen to be secretly anti-torture.

I dunno. Nixon-China, Clinton-Welfare, Petraeus-Human Rights. In other words, the Pol's credibility runs so deep with his party's base, he's free to go where others fear to tread.

You neglected "Obama/Social Security"

Oh, yeah, Woody, because when Obama's radical "reforms" destroying Social Security were signed into law ... introduced as a bill in Congress ... first suggested by some member of his administration invented by your imagination, that was a total Nixon-to-China moment.

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