Read My Lips: We Don’t Torture

So says the pres:

"Our country is at war and our government has the obligation to protect the American people," Bush said. "Any activity we conduct is within the law. We do not torture."
And his administration has been nothing but honest, so I’m sure if he says it, it’s true.

Joe Scarborough was a guest on Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday, along with fmr. President of Ireland Mary Robinson and my beloved John Waters. Scarborough (who’s a former GOP congressman in addition to an MSNBC talk show host) is occasionally reasonable, and he was occasionally reasonable on the show Friday night, but the rest of the time he was a jackass, and was incredibly rude to Ms. Robinson, who was far nicer to him than I would have been in return.

At one point, Scarborough perfectly exemplified the lunacy of the Right’s position on torture. He said (approximately): “First of all, it depends on what your definition of torture is. Take waterboarding, where you put someone’s head under water and then bring them up and then put them back under water. I mean, is that torture?” It was one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard, and he seemed to have no sense whatsoever how asinine he truly sounded. Maher, Robinson, and Waters all said, very matter-of-factly, “Yeah, it’s torture,” dismissing his lunatic rhetoric with the contempt it deserved.

In truth, the exchange was indicative of the positions espoused by the Right on many issues, not just torture—putting forth a radical notion as if it is a legitimate position. Maher and his other two guests handled it correctly, rejecting it out of hand and not entertaining for a moment that Scarborough’s assertion should be taken seriously. I wish that happened more. It’s astounding the number of extremists (Falwell, Robertson, Buchanan, Dobson, Coulter, Malkin, etc. etc. etc.) who have been legitimized purely by nature of not having their crackpot theories rejected out of hand. They have been de-fringed by a media who treats the likes of Pat Robertson as qualified to comment on a SCOTUS nominee, and put him up against a legal scholar to let him spew his madness as if it’s a viable alternative opinion.

When people in politics and the press moan about the level of public discourse being in the toilet, or how divided the nation is, I can’t begin to imagine why they’re surprised. Indulging maniacs was always going to have this inevitable result.

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