Monday, November 07, 2005

Another Great Moment in Presidential Humor
While there will never again be anything as funny as May 2, 2003, when He Who Shall Not Be Named dressed up like a pilot and landed a plane on the deck of an aircraft carrier, claiming victory in Iraq in front of a banner proclaiming "Mission Accomplished," today's knee-slapper was pretty good. In front of cameras in Panama, Dear Leader proclaimed, "We do not torture."

Stop it before I wet my pants.

We don't torture, but back at home, the vice president is doing everything in his power to exempt the CIA from a Congressional resolution, supported by 90 percent of the United States Senate, that would officially forbid torture. The VP's campaign occurred during the same week it was revealed the United States has been imprisoning certain terror suspects at unidentified sites in the former Communist bloc, where they are probably not being feted with liquor and prostitutes.

The nut graf of what HWSNBN said is this: "Our country is at war and our government has the obligation to protect the American people. Any activity we conduct is within the law. We do not torture." Let's parse, shall we?

"Any activity we conduct is within the law. We do not torture." Seems to me you could read those two sentences a couple of different ways. He could be saying "We do not torture because it's against the law," and that's the way we're supposed to take it, right from the straight-shootin' sheriff's playbook of moral and ethical behavior. But a person could also read it like this: "Any activity we conduct is within the law because I am the law west of the Pecos. So, if I say we don't torture, we don't." As we learned during the confirmation hearings for Alberto Gonzales, there's evidence that the administration believes in this kind of l'etat, c'est moi stuff--or as Dick Nixon put it, "When the president does it, it is not illegal." And when you consider the first sentence of the paragraph, "Our country is at war and our government has the obligation to protect the American people," you could read the declaration like this: "Because the rule that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it's a duck does not apply during wartime, we do not torture."

Of course, figuring out precisely what he means is a waste of pixels, bandwidth, energy, and time, because what he says doesn't mean a damn thing. If he was really so strongly opposed to torture, he'd tell Cheney to quit lobbying for it and close the black-ops prisons. Don't hold your breath waiting for that. You'll turn blue, and it won't be because it's November.

Recommended Reading: Over at the Fly Trap, David Lublin has some ideas for a Democrat version of the Contract With America, the 1994 gambit that Newt Gingrich used to help Repugs take the House of Representatives. I don't agree with all of them--and I'm afraid that many Democrats, including some running for president, would be reluctant to sign on--but it's a start.

Left over from the weekend at the Huffington Post, Tom Gilroy tosses a big bucket of cold water on people who think the White House is "reeling" from its recent problems. I don't agree with everything he says, either, but he's got an important point--no matter how severe the shitstorms get, they keep on keepin' on.

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