Whence cometh the fury of these people? I think it arises less from revulsion at interrogation techniques -- who thinks that captured al-Qaida leaders should be treated politely and will then tell the full truth? -- than it does from a desire to see George W. Bush and Bush administration officials publicly humiliated and repudiated. Just as Madame Defarge relished watching the condemned walk from the tumbrel to the guillotine, our contemporary Defarges want to see the people they hate condemned and destroyed.Bush critics may well respond that their anger over torture isn't opportunistic. Instead, they'd say, the alleged abuses were the inevitable consequence of a mentality of lawlessness typifying the Bush administration from the beginning -- the original sin, of course, being the allegedly stolen 2000 election. In the same way, for many of Richard Nixon's most entrenched antagonists, the narrative that began with the Alger Hiss case was perfected in Watergate. It was in his nature, the argument goes. We should've known from the beginning. Why didn't they listen to us? As I've learned in a half-lifetime promoting the pro-Nixon nuances, it's almost impossible to dissuade those who have such fixed attitudes. Whether they should determine the structure and course of a sober national debate on torture is one of President Obama's many difficult tactical challenges.
Monday, April 27, 2009
The New Knitters
While it's always dangerous to speculate about motives, Michael Barone's assessment of why some people want Bush officials prosecuted rings true: