Sen. John McCain has been carrying so much water for his friends in the mainstream media that he now has to state for the record to Republican audiences: "I hold no brief for al-Qaida."
Well, that's a relief.
It turns out, the only reason McCain is demanding that prisoners like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed -- mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, the beheading of journalist Daniel Pearl and other atrocities -- be treated like Martha Stewart facing an insider trading charge is this: "It's all about the United States of America and what is going to happen to Americans who are taken prisoner in future wars."
McCain, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. John Warner -- or, as the Times now calls him, the "courtly Virginian" ("fag-hag by proxy to Elizabeth Taylor" being beneath his dignity these days) -- want terrorists treated like Americans accused of crimes, with full access to classified information against them and a list of the undercover agents involved in their capture. Liberals' interest in protecting classified information started and ended with Valerie Plame.
As Graham explained, he doesn't want procedures used against terrorists at Guantanamo "to become clubs to be used against our people." Actually, clubs would be a step up from videotaped beheadings.
Or as The New York Times wrote in the original weasel talking points earlier this summer: "The Geneva Conventions protect Americans. If this country changes the rules, it's changing the rules for Americans taken prisoner abroad. That is far too high a price to pay so this administration can hang on to its misbegotten policies."
There hasn't been this much railing about the mistreatment of a hostage since Monica Lewinsky was served canapes at the Pentagon City Ritz-Carlton Hotel while being detained by the FBI.
The belief that we can impress the enemy with our magnanimity is an idea that just won't die. It's worse than the idea that paying welfare recipients benefits won't discourage them from working. (Some tiny minority might still seek work.) It's worse than the idea that taxes can be raised endlessly without reducing tax receipts. (As the Laffer Curve illustrates, at some point -- a point this country will never reach -- taxes could theoretically be cut so much that tax revenues would decline.)
But being nice to enemies is an idea that has never worked, no matter how many times liberals make us do it. It didn't work with the Soviet Union, Imperial Japan, Hitler or the North Vietnamese -- enemies notable for being more civilized than the Islamic savages we are at war with today.
By the way, how did the Geneva Conventions work out for McCain at the Hanoi Hilton?