The past few months, the Democrats seem to have been trying to make political hay about claims of "torture" and "abuse" at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, where the U.S. military has been running a prison camp for Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan.
Dick Durbin, of course, famously likened the troops there to Nazis and, as we noted last week, made the case that al Qaeda terrorists are entitled to be treated as civilians under the Geneva Conventions. (In fairness, Durbin was vague on this point; it's not clear if he understood that this was what he was arguing.)
Earlier, Democrats on the Judiciary Committee roughly interrogated Alberto Gonzales about his supposed approval of "torture," and the vast majority of Democrats (36-6, including Jeffords, with three not voting) voted against the confirmation of the first Hispanic attorney general.
Of course it is legitimate to criticize government policies, even in times of war. But the Democratic attacks on Guantanamo are so hysterical and unmoored from reality that they have the feel of gotcha politics. The over-the-top rhetoric and accusations are reminiscent of Democratic attacks on Republican judicial nominees. As Ryan Sager writes:
There's an important debate to be had in this country about just how far we're willing to go in our interrogations. But it's a difficult debate to even get started when one side thinks that we should be extremely concerned with the possibility that someone, somewhere might have desecrated the Korans of the people responsible for the murders of Daniel Pearl, Nick Berg, Fabrizio Quattrocchi, three-thousand Americans and now hundreds upon hundreds of Iraqi civilians.
A Rasmussen poll out yesterday suggests that this is terrible politics. Only 20% of the 1,000 likely voters in the survey "believe prisoners at Guantanamo Bay have been treated unfairly." Thirty-four percent think the treatment of the prisoners is "about right," and 36% think America is treating them "better than they deserve":
The survey also found that just 14% agree with people who say that prisoner treatment at Guantanamo Bay is similar to Nazi tactics. Sixty-nine percent disagree with that comparison. This helps explain why Illinois Senator Dick Durbin apologized for making such a comparison.
Even among Democrats, only 30% think the Guantanamo prisoners are being treated unfairly. In other words, many Democratic elected officials are out of touch not only with Americans in general but with a majority of their own supporters.
What are we to make of all this? The most hopeful interpretation is that the Democrats are politically incompetent--that they are stupidly trying to whip up hysteria over Guantanamo in hope of scoring political points. The other possibility is that one of America's two major political parties is led by people who are genuinely passionate about the "rights" of terrorists and correspondingly blasé about the dangers of terrorism.
In light of all this, Durbin's politically expedient "apology"--even if unsatisfactory as an apology--is a good sign. It suggests that Democrats are playing politics and coming to realize it isn't working.
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Crying Wolf For No Good Reason
It turns out that nobody is much concerned about the latest "outrage" being fulminated against by the Sedition Party. I don't know how the Traitorous Jackasses can even look at themselves in the mirror any more. Anyway, James Taranto has a nice summation: