This is a party that purports to care about America's image in the world. This is a party that indignantly insists it supports America's military. But in standing by Durbin and refusing to contradict his charges about systematic torture by America's troops (which is what Durbin has to be saying for his abominable comparisons to make any sense at all), the Democrats have done more to harm America's international image and undermine and jeopardize our military than anything they falsely imagine President Bush to have done.
It's not just that Al Jazeera is gleefully broadcasting Durbin's infernal indictment throughout the Muslim world; it spouts anti-American propaganda every day. It's that the entire Democratic Party, in effect, is affirming the substance of his charges.
We can't just chalk this up to the usual partisan bickering. The Democrats' recklessness in permitting such a negative impression of America transcends party politics by light years. All responsible Democrats must shout to the world in no uncertain terms that America, as a matter of philosophy, policy and practice treats its prisoners of war better and more humanely than has any other war captor in world history -- bar none, and that any departures are a rare exception to the rule.
And Republicans, for their part, mustn't stop with their sporadic condemnation of Durbin. This isn't just about Durbin, as despicable as his statements were. Now it really is about our image and our reputation as a good and decent nation. Republicans must declare in one voice that we treat our POWs fairly and decently.
In the meantime, we should unapologetically reserve the moral and legal right to get tough with prisoners when it is necessary to glean information from them that might -- and did -- save American (and other innocent) lives. We have ceded far too much ground to the political-correctness bullies' demand that we conduct the war like a pristine criminal trial and treat prisoners of war like harmless traffic offenders.
The Senate should censure and shun Sen. Durbin forthwith for aiding and comforting the enemy not with factual information that happens to place America, the Bush administration and our military in a bad light, but with gross and malicious distortions -- inexplicably if Durbin truly is a patriot -- to the unspeakable detriment of America and our troops.
This matter must stay on the front burner -- even though Democrats will cry dirty politics when they ought to be joining the condemnation chorus -- and the administration should take the offensive in sternly rebuking Durbin and praising our troops and their treatment of war prisoners. Shame on Sen. Durbin and any and all standing by him at his lowest moment.