Thursday, January 10, 2008

"Not One of Us"

Mark Shea (here and here), Rod Dreher (here), and Morning's Minion (here) all take National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez to task for this statement excommunicating Sen. John McCain from the conservative movement:
I don’t see how such a man wins the Republican nomination. I’m second to none in praising him on his surge leadership. But on a whole host of issues — including water boarding, tax cuts, and the freedom of speech — he’s not one of us.
(emphasis added)

I'm dumbfounded that support for torture is now considered a necessity for proving one's conservative bona fides to certain pundits among the "conservative" chattering class. And Lopez is a Catholic? Shameful.

Look, I've stated before that I'm no fan of John McCain. But his stance on torture is something to be admired, not derided. And given his own history of being tortured as a POW in Southeast Asia, McCain speaks on the issue from a position of particular moral authority. McCain has certainly betrayed conservatives on issues in the past, but this ain't one of them.

But to the extent other conservatives believe opposition to torture to be a betrayal - to the extent support for torture is now part and parcel of what it means to be part of the "conservative movement" in America today, then count me out. You can consider me to be "not one of us", as well.

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At 1/10/2008 6:13 PM, Anonymous Chelsea said...

Jay, I am beginning to wonder what being "one of us" really means anymore. There are about 50 different views of what conservatism is or is not, all invoking the "almighty" Reagan. I have a feeling he would be spinning in his grave if he could see the modern state of his beloved Party.

At 1/12/2008 3:11 AM, Blogger Christopher said...

NRO contributors Michael Ledeen and John Derbyshire have penned columns against torture in the National Review.

So has Victor Davis Hanson

And the virtual mouthpiece of the neoconservative movement — The Weekly Standard — has published articles criticizing the Bush administration’s practice of rendition and in support of a uniform standard prohibiting detainee abuse.

Lopez should recognize she speaks for herself and refrain from such grandiose claims.

At 1/12/2008 9:02 PM, Blogger Christopher said...

Kathryn Lopez responds:

I mentioned waterboarding way too casually in a short election piece earlier this week. I used it as shorthand for the whole interrogation debate and both the issue and Senator McCain deserve more.

That Americans worry that we are human-rights champions and don’t abuse even some of the worst men alive is a testament to us and our morality.

On torture, John McCain knows more, God bless him, than I will ever know. He has my deepest respect and gratitude for his service. But his leadership on the issue of torture and whether or not waterboarding is or isn’t torture has done more harm than good. As others have explained in great detail, he’s added confusion, Congress has punted, and the hands of men on the frontlines of wartime interrogation have been tied as a result.

John McCain has been stalwart on the surge in Iraq. We owe him for that — he was the D.C. leader articulating what the White House often didn’t. But as important as it was and is, the surge isn’t the sum-total of U.S. defense policy— a point that’s been made in these parts. Neither is the surge policy the sum-total of John McCain. That was my point — when considering settling on a Republican nominee, conservatives need to consider the sum-total of a candidate. And when you look through John McCain’s record — and policies he advocates/leads on to this day — there’s plenty to disagree with, as Mark Levin and Andy McCarthy highlighted yesterday.

Folks will dissent with the mainstream of conservative thought — heaven knows we do it right here on a wide array of issues — among ourselves and in interacting with readers, other blogs, and columnists. I certainly wasn’t writing folks who disagree on one rare form of interrogation out of the conservative movement (as if I have that power!). I was using shorthand — probably ill-advisedly — to refer to McCain’s role in the legislative debate on interrogation.

Andy McCarthy on the loophole in McCain's legislation:

“… McCain acknowledges that illegal coercion would still occur, but he assumes it would not be prosecuted if it actually resulted in preventing an attack. I think McCain’s way will inevitably result in more torture because it is a nod-and-a-wink approach that will (however inadvertently) promote disrespect for the law, the atmosphere in which lower-ranking officials are apt to engage in more torture.”


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