It’s about moral values, people!

Unfortunately, this one isn’t from The Onion, but the WaPo:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist signaled yesterday that he and other White House allies will filibuster a bill dealing with the interrogation and prosecution of detainees if they cannot persuade a rival group of Republicans to rewrite key provisions opposed by President Bush.

Frist's chief of staff, Eric M. Ueland, called the dissidents' bill "dead."
Which is a bit of an exaggeration. It’s only been water-boarded within an inch of its life so far.

Frist is unhappy with the bill proposed by Republicans John Warner, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham because they believe that asserting compliance with the Geneva Conventions as long as CIA interrogators don’t engage in “cruel, inhuman, or degrading” treatment of detainees is rooted in language too vague, and could not only give too much leeway to our interrogators, but also “invite nations to interpret the Geneva Conventions is lax ways that could lead to abusive treatment of captured US troops.” They’ve also had the temerity to suggest that the president’s desire to ensure detainees can be convicted with secret evidence they’re not allowed to see for themselves is a fat load of horseshit. (I might be paraphrasing.) Basically, Warner, McCain, and Graham are being vaguely empathetic and logical, so Frist no likey.

Frist struck a more jarring tone, telling reporters that the trio's bill is unacceptable despite its majority support.

For a bill to pass, Frist said, "it's got to preserve our intelligence programs," including the CIA's aggressive interrogation techniques, and it must "protect classified information from terrorists."
Translation: We need to be able to torture people, bitchez! Compassionate conservatism, baby.

As Hilzoy notes: “After all sorts of unspeakable bills have passed the Senate under his leadership, here is where Bill Frist is finally going draw the line: he will not allow limitations on the administration's ability to torture people, or to violate treaties our country has solemnly sworn to abide by. Making it illegal for CIA officials to keep people standing for 40 hours, or to hold them in rooms cooled down to 50 degrees while dousing them with water, or to deprive them of sleep, even when a pretty impressive array of intelligence officials say that these techniques don't work, and an even more impressive group of retired generals say allowing them would put our soldiers at risk: that's just too much for him to swallow.”

That’s because he’s a Real Man, whose objectivity hasn’t been compromised by actually serving in the military, unlike those pussies Warner, McCain, and Graham. Mmm, I love the smell of gorilla testosterone in the morning.

Except…Frist isn’t even just a hardcase with a brain of mush and a heart of stone. If he could truly, genuinely just not abide even the mere thought of “softness” (as speciously defined by pants-wetting chickenhawk warmongers), that would be one thing—a contemptible position to be sure, but at least he’d be a loathsome shit with integrity. Instead, he’s just pandering (via), as per usual.

“This very definitely is going to put a chilling effect on the tremendous strides [McCain] has made in the conservative evangelical community," said the Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, one of several conservative activists who support Bush's proposal on interrogation techniques.
There you have it. The Traditional Values Coalition supports torture—and anyone who doesn’t risks the ire of the conservative evangelical community, that self-proclaimed beacon of unassailable moral rectitude, who pray to a savior who, when facing certain torture and eventual death, fell to his knees on the Mount of Olives and prayed, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”

His fear forgotten, now torture is a traditional value. And Frist, whose only principle is Whatever It Takes and who worships none and nothing but Power, is all too willing to accommodate, to accept the new definition of values as he remakes America in the image of the least American among us.

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