Mark Steyn relishes the inconsistencies of the way democrats treat holding certain particular controversial positions differently depending on who it is that is holding them.
Question: What does Dick Cheney think of waterboarding?
Heâ€™s in favor of it. He was in favor of it then, heâ€™s in favor of it now. He doesnâ€™t think itâ€™s torture, and he supports having it on the books as a vital option. On his recent TV appearances, he sometimes gives the impression he would not be entirely averse to performing a demonstration on his interviewers, but generally he believes its use should be a tad more circumscribed. He is entirely consistent.
Question: What does Nancy Pelosi think of waterboarding?
No, I mean really. Away from the cameras, away from the Capitol, in the deepest recesses of her (if sheâ€™ll forgive my naivete) soul. Sitting on a mountaintop, contemplating the distant horizon, chewing thoughtfully on a cranberry-almond granola bar, what does she truly believe about waterboarding?
Does she support it? Well, according to the CIA, she did way back when, over six years ago.
Does she oppose it? According to Speaker Pelosi, yes. In her varying accounts, sheâ€™s (a) accused the CIA of consciously â€œmisleading the Congress of the United Statesâ€ as to what they were doing; (b) admitted to having been briefed that waterboarding was in the playbook but that â€œwe were not â€” I repeat â€” were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were usedâ€; (c) belatedly conceded that sheâ€™d known back in February 2003 that waterboarding was being used but had been apprised of the fact by â€œa member of my staff.â€ As she said on Thursday, instead of doing anything about it, she decided to focus on getting more Democrats elected to the House.
Itâ€™s worth noting that, by most if not all of her multiple accounts, Nancy Pelosi is as guilty of torture as anybody else. Thatâ€™s not an airy rhetorical flourish but a statement of law. As National Reviewâ€™s Andy McCarthy points out, under Section 2340A(c) of the relevant statute, a person who conspires to torture is subject to the same penalties as the actual torturer. Once Speaker Pelosi was informed that waterboarding was part of the plan and that it was actually being used, she was in on the conspiracy, and as up to her neck in it as whoever it was who was actually sticking it to poor old Abu Zubaydah and the other blameless lads.
That is, if you believe waterboarding is â€œtorture.â€
I donâ€™t believe itâ€™s torture. Nor does Dick Cheney. But Nancy Pelosi does. Or so she has said, latterly.
Alarmed by her erratic public performance, the speakerâ€™s fellow San Francisco Democrat Dianne Feinstein attempted to put an end to Nancyâ€™s self-torture session. â€œI donâ€™t want to make an apology for anybody,â€ said Senator Feinstein, â€œbut in 2002, it wasnâ€™t 2006, â€™07, â€™08, or â€™09. It was right after 9/11, and there were in fact discussions about a second wave of attacks.â€
Indeed. In effect, the senator is saying waterboarding was acceptable in 2002, but not by 2009. The waterboarding didnâ€™t change, but the country did. It was no longer Americaâ€™s war but Bushâ€™s war. And it was no longer a bipartisan interrogation technique that enjoyed the explicit approval of both partiesâ€™ leaderships, but a grubby Bush-Cheney-Rummy war crime.
Dianne Feinstein has provided the least worst explanation for her colleagueâ€™s behavior. The alternative â€” that Speaker Pelosi is a contemptible opportunist hack playing the cheapest but most destructive kind of politics with key elements of national security â€” is, of course, unthinkable. Senator Feinstein says airily that no reasonable person would hold dear Nancy to account for what she supported all those years ago. But itâ€™s okay to hold Cheney or some no-name Justice Department backroom boy to account?
Well, sure. Itâ€™s the Miss USA standard of political integrity: Carrie Prejean and Barack Obama have the same publicly stated views on gay marriage. But the politically correct enforcers know that Barack doesnâ€™t mean it, so thatâ€™s okay, whereas Carrie does, so thatâ€™s a hate crime. In the torture debate, Pelosi is Obama and Dick Cheney is Carrie Prejean. Dick means it, because to him this is an issue of national security. Nancy doesnâ€™t, because to her itâ€™s about the shifting breezes of political viability.
But it does make you wonder whether a superpower with this kind of leadership class should really be going to war at all.