Sen. John McCain has established himself as an outspoken critic of torture, which makes his vote Wednesday against the Feinstein Amendment, which would set limits on the types of interrogation techniques used by American intelligence agencies, all the more puzzling—or, in the case of The Atlantic columnist Andrew Sullivan, heartbreaking.
The Daily Dish:
This is why the focus on waterboarding has been necessary but distracting. It has allowed people to believe that this relatively rare technique is the beginning and end of the Bush-Cheney torture regime. It isn’t. It’s a fraction of the illegal abuse that they have condoned and believe in. I simply cannot see any explanation for this except politics—that McCain feels the need to appease the Republican far right at this point in time, and, tragically, the right to torture has now become a litmus test of “conservative” orthodoxy. It’s a Karl Rove wedge issue of a classic kind: using the crudest of emotional appeals to gin up populist authoritarianism for the sake of Republican partisan advantage in wartime. There is nothing conservative about torture, of course. But the authoritarians of the far right are hardly conservatives in the traditional sense either.
So McCain reveals himself as a positioner even on the subject on which he has gained a reputation for unimpeachable integrity. It’s worth reading Jon Chait’s illuminating new piece in this context. I repeat that I am heartbroken.