Sunday, February 07, 2010


Steve Benen flags this column, by Slate's Dahlia Lithwick, which is about GOP goalpost-moving on terrorism:

...each time Republicans go to their terrorism crazy-place, they go just a little bit farther than they did the last time, so that things that made us feel safe last year make us feel vulnerable today.

Policies and practices that were perfectly acceptable just after 9/11, or when deployed by the Bush administration, are now decried as dangerous and reckless. The same prominent Republicans who once celebrated open civilian trials for Zacarias Moussaoui and Richard Reid, the so-called "shoe bomber," now claim that open civilian trials endanger Americans (some Republicans have now even gone so far as to try to defund such trials). Republicans who once supported closing Guantanamo are now fighting to keep it open....

This week Glenn Greenwald summarized how far the goal posts of normal have moved when he pointed out that "merely advocating what Ronald Reagan explicitly adopted as his policy -- 'to use democracy's most potent tool, the rule of law against' terrorists -- is now the exclusive province of civil liberties extremists." ...

All true -- but remember, this isn't just rhetorical goalpost-moving.

Lately a number of commenters here have sneered that, for all my grumbling about hapless, sold-out Democrats, I'll probably continue to vote for the bastards. And you want to know why? This is why.

Sure, it doesn't seem that voting for Democrats improves anything. But certain things don't get massively worse. We're not torturing the men we arrested in the Fort Hood case or the underpants case. They're not being sent to Gitmo.

The thing is, when Sarah Palin is president, or Mitt Romney, or Scott Brown, or Mike Huckabee, it's likely that the U.S. government is actually going to do things like that. Remember, a lot of people -- maybe some of you -- thought in 2000 that George W. Bush and Al Gore were Tweedledee and Tweedledum. But the Gore administration would not have done the things Bush and Cheney did -- no, not even with Joe Lieberman as VP. Waterboarding? Gitmo? Secret torture prisons? No.

Obama may not have improved matters enough, he may be racing to the right to chase the goalposts as they're moving, but everything's going to go so far to the right when we have a GOP/tea party president that it's going to make the Bush years look benign. If there's another Abdulmutallab, waterboarding will probably be mandatory. And that's just for starters. We can't even begin to imagine how far the Republicans will go to the right, just to piss liberals off.

That's why I still vote Democratic -- not because it makes things better, but because it slows somewhat the process by which they become much, much worse.

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