By helping to defeat President Bush’s proposed legislation establishing procedures to interrogate and try terrorist detainees, dissident Republican Senators John McCain, Lindsay Graham and John Warner have bestowed a great gift on both the President’s political adversaries and, much worse, on America’s terrorist enemies. Ce
rtainly, despite their misguided judgments on the legislation at hand, all three Republicans do understand that America is, in fact, fighting a war, and that defeating the terrorists must be our top priority. That distinguishes them from most Democrats, who simply don’t understand the stakes. In fact, Jesse Jackson argued last week that terrorism “is not the worst threat we face” (in his view, climate change, global pandemics and U.S. trade deficits are greater concerns). And Rosie O’Donnell’s inability to distinguish between “radical Christians” and Islamofascist terrorists – as well as Los Angeles Times columnist Rosa Brooks’ equating “militant conservative Islamic extremists” with “militant conservative Judeo-Christian extremists” – highlight the left’s fundamental lack of seriousness about the war on terror.
Even so, by helping to defeat the President’s legislation in the Armed Services Committee, Senators McCain, Graham and Warner have facilitated Democrats’ efforts to portray President Bush’s approach to interrogating and trying terrorists as somehow out of the mainstream. They’ve likewise allowed the Democrats to blur the very real distinctions between the parties when it comes to fighting the war on terror – giving them a valuable opportunity to pretend that their unwillingness to confront Islamofascist terrorism is nothing more than a reflection of the same scruples voiced by McCain, Graham and Warner.
But the political benefit to the Democrats is dwarfed by the boon the McCain/Graham/Warner approach bestows on America’s enemies. By offering terrorists the same status as that accorded uniformed military warriors, the legislation favored by the trio only rewards warfare that glorifies the deliberate killing of innocents and undermines a distinction between terrorist and soldier that should be cherished by all civilized people.