From yesterday’s “Strategy Room,” a candid if predictable reaction to Blair’s admission that enhanced interrogation works: “I don’t give a rat’s ass if it helps!” Most of the mindless absolutism on this subject has come from the left; nice to see Shep upholding the tradition. Pew’s out with a poll today that I’m reluctant to link because the margin of error by party is so huge (eight points in the case of the GOP), but for what it’s worth, 49 percent of the public thinks torturing terrorists is often or sometimes justified, including 54 percent of independents. Toss in those who say it’s justified in rare cases and you’re up to 71 percent. The most interesting data point is the partisan shift in the last few months. As of February, 22 percent of Republicans said it was often justified versus just nine percent of Dems; two months into Hopenchange, the GOP number’s down to 15 and the Democratic number’s up to 12, proving that America’s comfort with the practice depends to some extent on how much they trust the occupant of the White House. In fact, only 44 percent of independents thought torture was at least sometimes justified as of February versus 54 percent now — which suggests, ironically, that their greater confidence in Obama not to abuse the practice has made them more enthusiastic for it.
While we’re on this topic, I should correct an egregious error I made yesterday. In the Hillary post, I said that the torture debate isn’t academic. In reality, it’s entirely academic. Read Gutfeld’s latest and you’ll see why. When push comes to shove, if Obama has reason to believe that detainees in CIA custody have info that might stop an impending attack, rest assured that he’ll give the order to slap it out of them if need be. If he doesn’t and we’re hit, he’s finished politically; whatever queasiness about stress positions that the public feels now will evaporate and they’ll turn on him viciously, and he surely knows it. Even if he’s personally squeamish, he’s not going to blow his shot at a second term for the sake of not breaking Andrew Sullivan’s bleeding heart. Content warning.