If there was one Senator who seemed extremely disturbed by the testimony of Alberto “The Electrode” Gonzales this past week in his Attorney General confirmation hearings, it was (choke) Lindsey Graham.
You have to realize how painful it is for me to give it up to the Republican Senator from South Carolina, who made a name for himself as one of the House prosecutors during Bill Clinton’s impeachment through shameless grandstanding and by sticking his face in front of every camera that was switched on, and was in large part responsible for bringing the wheels of government to a grinding halt while the Republicans indulged themselves and the country in a televised orgy of Clintonian humiliation.
Memories live long in the blogosphere.
But now there is much more at stake, and those agoraphobic C-SPAN addicts amongst us who witnessed the confirmation hearings were forced to watch and wonder as one Democratic Senator after another weenied out before the cameras. Part of the problem is probably due to the fact that they feel the Gonzales battle is already lost, so why fight it. Which is both shortsighted and amoral. But I think is was also due in part to the fact that lacking any true Party vision they are hoping for salvation in the form of an ethnic demographic shift, and consequently no Democrat wanted to tango with the 1,000 lb. gorilla in the room — the fact that Gonzales is Hispanic, and they fear alienating the Hispanic vote.
Also shortsighted and amoral.
The flip side of the coin was Lindsey Graham, whose opposition to human rights violations committed against suspected terrorists is not new. On December 13, 2003, after a tour of the Guantanamo Bay facilities, Graham sent a letter to Rumsfeld saying it was time to release the detainees or bring them to trial.
He also pushed through legislation giving higher rank to military lawyers, who were largely responsible for pursuing investigations into Guantanamo Bay abuses, so that they would be on an equal footing with civilian lawyers who were fighting tooth and nail against them.
Graham opened his questioning of Gonzales with this:
I think we’ve dramatically undermined the war effort by getting on the slippery slope in terms of playing cute with the law, because it’s come back to bite us. Abu Ghraib has hurt us in many ways. I travel throughout the world like the rest of the members of the Senate, and I can tell you it is a club that our enemies use, and we need to take that club out of their hand. Guantanamo Bay, the way it’s been run has hurt the war effort. So if we’re going to win this war, Judge Gonzales, we need friends and we need to recapture the moral high ground.
No Democrat delivered such a stinging indictment. Graham also serves as a reserve judge in the Air Force, and it was interesting to note that he went on to say that “My problem is that the DOJ memo was out there for two years, and the only people I can find that spoke against it were professional military lawyers who were worried about our own troops. ” This while Biden was sucking up to Gonzales, calling him “Buddy” and saying “I love you.”
The Democrats could learn a thing or two from Graham’s “frame.”
Don’t get me wrong — Graham is no knight in shining armor. But he should be praised for having the courage of his convictions on this one, and his stance is all the more…(choke)…impressive…(did I just say that?)… because he stands nothing to gain and everything to lose in bucking his own party.
And shame should rain down like hellfire on the head of any Democrat afraid to do the same.