Apparently there is a big flap between Rick Santorum and John McCain on the issue of waterboarding (enhanced interrogation) which was used to gain the cooperation of Khalid Sheik Mohammed — cooperation that led to his giving information which enabled our forces to find Osama Bin Laden.
Read “The Waterboarding Trail to Bin Laden: Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said that as late as 2006 fully half of the government’s knowledge about the structure and activities of al Qaeda came from harsh interrogations”
I have been back and forth on the waterboarding issue, but I have come to the conclusion that this whole thing is being blown out of proportion due to a lack of understanding of what waterboarding is. Today, Mark Shea, who I love and respect, is engaging in some brutal ad hominem against Rick Santorum. So who is right and who is wrong here? Let’s take a step back, a deep breath, and consider the facts.
Is waterboarding “torture”? I would agree with these remarks below from Fr. Brian Harrison at Catholic Culture:
Even deciding what exactly we mean by torture is not easy. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes it as “physical or moral violence” (CCC 2297); the definition given by the 1984 United Nations Convention on Torture is “the intentional infliction of severe pain.” The words violence and severe are themselves somewhat vague. Who draws the line — and where? — as to which specific practices are harsh enough to correspond to those words? What has become clear in the contemporary debate is that while many shudder-evoking practices (which needn’t be spelled out here) are recognized by everyone as meriting the name torture, there is no consensus about whether other less extreme interrogation techniques really count as torture: for instance, sleep deprivation, being kept under harsh temperatures or in uncomfortable positions, or “waterboarding” (which causes a brief, panic-inducing sensation of being about to drown but no pain or injury). Since no Catholic magisterial intervention so far offers any real guidance for resolving this controversy, the only methods we can be sure are included under “torture,” when that word appears in Church documents, are those in the former group.
“Inducing panic”, such as we find in waterboarding, is not “torture”. Considering that it is not torture in the first place, all other points appear to be moot.
Rick Santorum responded on the Mark Levin Show yesterday to the false claims that he endorses the use of torture. (CLICK HERE to watch video at The Right Scoop to hear his remarks.)
Again, I’ve been back and forth on the issue, because I did not understand fully what waterboarding is and how the Church defines “torture”. Now, I know. It’s not torture and it did gain information necessary to capture Osama Bin Laden. It was not used to force anyone to confess a crime but to gain information. The intent was to defend life and the action was not torture. Case closed.
Related at Catholic Online: Silence on Santorum is Deafening: Republican Establishment Sends Signals
Related at WMUR, New Hampshire: Conversation with the Candidate, Rick Santorum
A wrap-up of various items of political interest.
1. The video that heads this post is one of the reasons why my vote for McCain in 2008 was a two handed vote, with one hand holding my nose. McCain has long been an ardent supporter of amnesty and open borders. Now that he is in a tough primary race with J.D. Hayworth, he is a born again believer in locking down the border against illegal aliens. I certainly favor in making it tougher for illegals to get across the border, but I do not favor politicians who embrace positions simply to save their political skin. I hope that the voters in Arizona will finally bring McCain’s political career to a screeching halt by voting for his opponent in the primary.
2. It looks like Hawaii will soon have a new Republican Congressman. The Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee is pulling out of Hawaii 1 and basically conceding that Republican Charles Djou will win the special election on May 22. The Democrats have two candidates running who are splitting the vote and thus allowing the Republicans to take a Congressional seat that has been in Democrat hands for two decades.
3. The tea party movement claimed another scalp by causing the defeat of Republican Senator Bob Bennett at the Utah Gop Convention in his attempt to get the Republican nomination for a fourth term in the Senate. This should be a warning for all politicians: this year is different, no re-nomination or re-election can be taken for granted.
4. Faithful readers of this blog will know that I have quite a bit of respect for blogger Mickey Kaus who is taking on Senator Barbara Boxer in the Democrat primary in California. Shockingly last week the LA Times refused to endorse Boxer:
On the Democratic side, we find that we’re no fans of incumbent Barbara Boxer. She displays less intellectual firepower or leadership than she could. We appreciate the challenge brought by Robert “Mickey” Kaus, even though he’s not a realistic contender, because he asks pertinent questions about Boxer’s “lockstep liberalism” on labor, immigration and other matters. But we can’t endorse him, because he gives no indication that he would step up to the job and away from his Democratic-gadfly persona.
To have the LA Times refuse to endorse Boxer is a strong indication of just how weak she is this election year. She is probably strong enough to defeat Kaus (sorry Mickey!) in the primary, but there is blood in the water for the general election. Continue reading
In an essay entitled A Campaign of Narratives in the March issue of First Things (currently behind a firewall for non-subscribers), George Weigel writes:
Yet it is also true that the 2008 campaign, which actually began in the late fall of 2006, was a disturbing one—not because it coincided with what is usually described in the hyperbole of our day as “the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression” but because of how it revealed some serious flaws in our political culture. Prominent among those flaws is our seeming inability to discuss, publicly, the transformation of American liberalism into an amalgam of lifestyle libertinism, moral relativism, and soft multilateralism, all flavored by the identity politics of race and gender. Why can’t we talk sensibly about these things? For the past eight years, no small part of the reason why had to do with what my friend Charles Krauthammer, in a nod to his former incarnation as a psychiatrist, famously dubbed “Bush Derangement Syndrome.”
Raising this point is not a matter of electoral sour grapes. Given an unpopular war that had been misreported from the beginning, plus President Bush’s unwillingness to use the presidential bully pulpit to help the American people comprehend the stakes in Iraq, plus conservative aggravation over a spendthrift Republican Congress and administration, plus that administration’s failure to enforce discipline on its putative congressional allies, plus public exhaustion with a familiar cast of characters after seven years in office, plus an economic meltdown—well, given all that, it seems unlikely that any Republican candidate could have beaten any Democrat in 2008. Indeed, the surprise at the presidential level may have been that Obama didn’t enjoy a success of the magnitude of Eisenhower’s in 1952, Johnson’s in 1964, Nixon’s in 1972, or Reagan’s in 1984.
Still, I would argue that the basic dynamics of the 2008 campaign, evident in the passions that drove Obama supporters to seize control of the Democratic party and then of the presidency, were not set in motion by the failures and missed opportunities of the previous seven years but by Bush Derangement Syndrome, which emerged as a powerful force in American public life on December 12, 2000: the day American liberalism’s preferred instrument of social and political change, the Supreme Court, determined that George W. Bush (the candidate with fewer popular votes nationally) had, in fact, won Florida and with it a narrow majority in the Electoral College. Here was the cup dashed from the lips—and by a court assumed to be primed to deliver the expected and desired liberal result yet again. Here was the beginning of a new, millennial politics of emotivism (displayed in an astonishing degree of publicly manifested loathing for a sitting president) and hysteria (fed by the new demands of a 24/7 news cycle).
I think this analysis gets things exactly backwards.
270 Electoral Votes Needed to Win
Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming
Obama/Biden: 338 (Obama wins the presidency)
California, Colorado, Connecticut, D.C., Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin
McCain has conceded and called Obama to congratulate him. I’m done for the evening. Another AC contributor can take up the running commentary.
Virginia goes to Obama. Obama has the election all but wrapped up, barring a major surprise in the evening which none of the pundits, including the McCain campaign, foresee happening. For now, we probably should begin contemplating an Obama presidency and congratulate him for an excellent campaign.
McCain aides have all but conceded the election to Obama when announcing they see no other pathway to 270 electoral votes.
Ohio goes to Obama. This election is almost over for McCain.
McCain won the Catholic vote in Pennsylvania 51-49%, but still lost the state to Obama.
Exit polls are not matching up with actual votes in Indiana, Florida, and North Carolina. Hence why they haven’t been called yet. The exit polls favor Obama, but the actual results do not reflect this.
Updated 11:22 PM CST
The most accurate poll from the 2004 Election, the Investors Business Daily (IDB) Poll, has been showing a trend of Catholic voters moving away from Senator Obama and into Senator McCain’s camp. Since I first reported this a little over a week ago I can now say that this trend is real and Catholics are now leaning to McCain as of today.
Again, this is only a snapshot and outside of the IDB and Gallup polls, I don’t put much into any other poll. But it is interesting to note that the Catholic vote has switched over to McCain, 51-38%. A solid majority so to speak.
The latest poll* that came out today, the Fox News Poll, show’s that Catholics are still trending away from Senator Obama and towards Senator McCain. The poll today show’s whiteCatholics are now evenly split, 46-46%, between Senator Obama and Senator McCain. Previously in the Fox News Poll it showed Senator Obama with an 11 point lead among white Catholic voters over Senator McCain (emphasis mine).
The race has tightened in part because of changes in a couple of important swing voting groups. Independents back Obama by 5 percentage points today, down from a 9-point edge last week. Similarly, among white Catholics, Obama held an 11-point edge over McCain last week and today they split 46-46.
The most accurate poll from the 2004 presidential election, the Investors Business Daily (IDB) poll, shows a phenomenal 20 point switch towards Senator McCain among Catholic voters . In the previous IDB tracking poll Senator Obama once held a commanding 11 point advantage among Catholic voters. In the latest tracking poll Senator McCain now has a nine (9) point lead among Catholic voters over Senator Obama. Senator McCain leads Senator Obama among Catholic voters 48% to 39%.
I have always admired Al Smith, the Democrat who was the first Catholic to run for President on a major party ticket in 1928. Each year the Al Smith dinner is held in New York to raise funds for Catholic Charities. It is traditional each Presidential election year for the major party candidates to appear and give humorous speeches. Senators McCain and Obama observed the tradition last night and I thought both their speeches were well done.