Sunday, May 20, 2007


The Good Old Days Weren't Always Good and Tomorrow Ain't as Bad as it Seems

Andrew Sullivan and Joe Klein just can't seem to get past their nostalgia for an era that may or may not ever have existed.

Andrew yearns for a John McCain who stands up to torture. McCain opposed it in the Republican debate last week, but when it counted, he caved in to the administration. McCain had criticized the conduct of the war, but when the flaccid surge plan came out-- one that has produced scarce results to this point, despite the assurances of Republican leaders like John Boehner-- he jumped on board.

All evidence indicates that in matters of war and peace, and of whether America should torture suspects and prisoners, McCain is much more attuned to burnishing his "maverick tough-guy" brand than the altering actual policy that the country pursues.

For his part, Joe Klein thinks that a Democratic president who takes office in 2009 should be sure to appoint loads of Republicans to his cabinet. That's a fine idea, in theory, but we live in the US in 2007, not in "theory."

Klein's plan is akin to pointing out that there had been some rancor between Democrats and Republicans over how to handle the issue of the US Communist Party in the 1950s, so President Truman should have appointed Roy Cohn to a high-level position in the State Department.

I agree with the idea in theory-- hyperpartisanship is, in fact, bad for America. But as Klein himself pointed out the other day, McCain lost the GOP presidential debate because he said sane words sane about torture. The other leading candidates "won" by trying to out-do each other in appealing to the bloodlust of GOP values voters.

Who are these Republicans that Klein thinks should be appointed? Jim Leach, and Dick Lugar, maybe. But beyond that? The sad fact is that the GOP is a debased, spent party.

Klein's moral compass, the moral relativism of fetishizing bipartisan centrism, is useless to him now. Hopefully he will figure that out soon.

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