Blogwars: Goldstein and Ace versus Sullivan on torture

Iraq war redux: Congressional Democrats don’t have the stones to vote the nutroots position so instead they’ll go along with the majority and then bitch to anyone who’ll listen that it’s Bush’s fault for forcing them to make tough political choices. Says Captain Sanctimony:

This is the Rove gambit: make this election a choice between legalizing torture or enabling the murderers of 9/11 to escape justice. The timing is deliberate; the exploitation of 9/11 gob-smacking; the cynicism fathomless. There is only one response: call them on it and vote for their opponents in November.

To which Goldstein replies:

In other words, voting their consciences might lose them an election—and when the choice comes down to a vote between conscience and appearance, the people Sullivan wishes us all to vote for will choose appearance and sacrifice principle.

Talk about fathomless cynicism.

Ace runs with it:

Bush wants clear guidelines. Sullivan is of course against that– as are all Democrats, and John McCain — because they want belly-slapping and arm-twisting and even chest-poking to be illegal, but they know damn well the public is not going to vote in favor of such a prohibition…

I’m amused that Andrew Sullivan is offended, appalled, shocked, chagrined and in all other ways extremely put out to find that there are politics going on in a political democracy. The problem is, of course, that Sullivan and liberals prefer a system in which liberals are simply elected for life, immunized and insulated against rejection by the public, and thus free to “vote their conscences” in perpetuity without any fear of adverse popular reaction.

Sullivan’s real problem here, though he’s loathe to admit it, is that the vaunted American “soul” he’s always burbling about doesn’t look exactly like Andrew Sullivan’s. Which it must in order to be truly worthy of the term “virtuous.” He deals with public disapproval of gay marriage by claiming, not unreasonably, that we’ll all come around on that in time; that is to say, America’s soul doesn’t look like his yet. But the prospect of “progress” on torture is less certain, and considerably less now than it was 24 hours ago thanks to Bush’s speech. Taranto, writing about it in today’s BOTW, observes:

Some administration critics have argued (a) that any harsh interrogation amounts to torture, and (b) that torture cannot yield useful intelligence. These claims cannot both be true. This column accepts the president’s assurances that the techniques the CIA used did not amount to torture–but if you disagree, then you have to admit “torture” works.

Not true. You can stick your fingers in your ears and choose option (c), namely, that everything Bush said yesterday was a lie because it has to be because torture doesn’t work ever because if it does then we face an intractable moral choice which we don’t want to face lest we choose wrong and America’s “soul” head further down the wayward path away from the golden light emanating from the Daily Dish. Better to avoid that scenario entirely by blaming “monstrous” George Bush for having led the leviathan known as Andrew Sullivan’s America into “false” choices. Like whether the chance to stop people planning mass murder warrants the occasional jihadi belly slap.

Here’s the list of interrogation techniques that are — and aren’t — available to government interrogators. Remember: if the CIA can “roughly shake” Khaled Sheikh Mohammed then the terrorists have already won.