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By David Podvin
George W. Bush should nominate Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to replace Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court. The former Texas governor can do the nation a service by resisting the temptation to appoint a stealth fascist who gains confirmation through subterfuge. Instead, Bush should boldly signal conservative plans for the Constitution by promoting the administration official who authored the memo arguing that the United States government can legally torture people.
It’s not as though Bush would ever choose someone who is rational. For months, the White House has been working with right wing groups to eliminate from consideration any potential nominee who is even remotely civilized. What remains is a group of troglodytes longing to eliminate the separation of church and state, overturn reproductive and civil rights law, invalidate environmental and labor statutes, and erase all restrictions on big business.
Gonzales is thought to be near the bottom of the right wing wish list because Republican activists believe he is too liberal, a gruesome insight that reveals everything one needs to know about conservatives. Since the other potential nominees are even more barbaric than the one who advocates mutilating defenseless human beings – and since anyone Bush nominates is going to lie about his or her intentions – it will be most constructive if Gonzales is chosen.
A showdown over Gonzales will define the official American position on the merits of disemboweling people with nightsticks. It is not an issue that Madison or Jefferson ever envisioned being considered in the senate. However, original intent has been supplanted by conservative intent, so it is necessary to revisit the Dark Ages and debate whether removing someone’s teeth with pliers constitutes ethical behavior.
Republican senators are in the majority, meaning the pro-pliers contingent will have the upper hand. Even so, we should have a national dialogue on this ultimate issue of decency. The battle of ideologies will pit the party of torture versus the party that would oppose torture if doing so didn’t involve being criticized. The world must watch us debate this topic so that the next time Bush conquers a defenseless nation Americans won’t have to endure hearing Old Europe whimper about the United States acting contrary to our stated beliefs. When your societal ethos explicitly validates mutilating women and children, no one can reasonably accuse you of failing to live up to your lofty moral rhetoric.
The Senate debate on Gonzales should be compelling. The Republicans will unanimously support him as they did when he was nominated to be Attorney General. John McCain, who is idolized by many neurotic liberals yearning for a conservative good guy, will again demonstrate that five years of being tortured by the Viet Cong have not soured him on the concept of bludgeoning handcuffed people. Thad Cochran will explain that hooking someone’s testicles to a car battery is exactly what Jesus would do (when He wasn’t busy bombing abortion clinics). Orrin Hatch will explain that opposition to Gonzales is racially and religiously motivated and proves that liberals hate Hispanics and Christians.
The Republicans will do their job, which is to be evil. The Democrats will also do their job, although no one has been able to determine exactly what that might be. Theoretically, it involves standing up for the ideals of the people who elected them. In practice, it usually means something considerably less noble. Twelve Democratic senators recently honed their fighting skills for the upcoming confirmation bout by capitulating on the CAFTA trade agreement that exports the jobs of (primarily Democratic) blue-collar workers.
It will be fascinating to see Hillary Clinton answer the age-old question, “Just exactly how does one strategically position oneself as a moderate on the issue of gang-raping women to extract information?” Dick Durbin will have the chance to prove that he can oppose torture without subsequently dissolving into tears. Barbara Boxer will tell the truth and get blasted for it, whereupon she will tell the truth again, causing analysts on Fox to question her sanity.
In the unlikely event that Gonzales should lose, Bush can always nominate one degenerate after another until the Senate Democrats are overcome by the strain of being an opposition party and simply collapse. Bush will ultimately get his way because he is resolute and his opponents are not.
Yet it is extremely important to the country that Bush nominates Gonzales because there is a gargantuan turd lying on America’s living room floor that should be removed before the entire house becomes uninhabitable. Seymour Hersh reported last year that Iraqi boys were being dragged into Abu Ghraib and raped so violently that their screams could be heard outside the thick prison walls. The sadistic rapists were American military personnel who will be honored as heroes at future homecoming parades where they will march in place of the soldiers have been disciplined for refusing to perpetrate abuse.
The felonies at Abu Ghraib were not aberrations. Depraved acts are being committed worldwide at the behest of the illegitimate Bush regime. The atrocities are authorized, unofficial to be sure, but encouraged nonetheless. From pouring cleaning solvent into the eyes of detainees on Guantanamo to castrating abductees hidden in Third World dungeons, Bush’s functionaries are seeking to match al Qaida abomination for abomination. No one running America’s torture chambers is ever punished for their iniquity, although the occasional peon is scapegoated to create the illusion of vigilance.
The USSR used to invade small countries and torture their people. The Soviets behaved that way because they were Godless oppressors. We are now behaving in the same way because we are Godly liberators. Since the behavior is identical, an identical label is appropriate: Evil Empire. That is what Bush and his conservative accomplices and his liberal enablers have made of our nation. Under Clinton, America was highly imperfect but striving to improve. Under Bush, America has surrendered to our worst instincts. The results are appalling to people who are honorable, which effectively excludes every Republican in the land.
Reactionary icon Paul Harvey recently articulated the right wing view when he observed that our citizens have become “sugar candy” in the war against terror. Harvey pines for the bygone days of a Muscular America when we slaughtered Indians and enslaved blacks and dropped nukes. To Republicans, might truly does make right. This is not empty verbiage or political posturing. It is their governing philosophy, and it is currently American policy.
Democrats need to confront that bitter reality, and a Gonzales confirmation hearing would provide the means. As the face of torture advocacy, Gonzales should be subjected to public humiliation. The entire grotesque record of abuse should be laid bare in nauseating detail before the American people, who must then be challenged to decide if rape and murder are really what we want our beautiful star spangled banner to signify.
Gonzales’ nomination would benefit everyone involved. Bush would win because he could deceive some Hispanics into believing that his support for the postmodern Torquemada means he is the champion of all brown skinned people. The Republicans would win because Democratic opposition to torture would provide another pretext for accusing liberals of treason. The Democrats would win because they could show the skeptical electorate that their party actually is willing to fight for principle. And the great unwashed would win because Americans really need to hear from some political leaders that we are not the master race, and that the tragic events of 9/11 do not provide license to traverse the globe maiming people who have never done us harm.
The selection of a torture advocate would provide the ultimate litmus test, not of the judicial nominee’s ideology, but of society’s decency. George W. Bush should nominate the vile Alberto Gonzales to serve on the Supreme Court, and the Democrats should forcefully oppose him on moral grounds. It is time to have a fight for the soul of America.
Read a transcript and/or listen to the audio of Paul Harvey's comments (courtesy of the Chicago Tribune's Eric Zorn)
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