This is the depth of the predicament the United States is in. The Islamist threat remains; but the Constitution is in deep disrepair, the military stretched to breaking point, the national debt doubled, and America's reputation in terrible shape. More important, the president and vice-president deeply damaged the reliability and integrity of America's intelligence services, creating a self-perpetuating loop of phony intelligence procured by torture which then justified more torture which led to worse intelligence. It will be decades before we learn the full extent of the damage Bush and Cheney have done to the country's ability to find out what the enemy is really up to, how much risk these sadists and goons have subjected us to, how much damage to this country they may have facilitated by filling intelligence with the garbage always created by torture. We do know that their policy has led to just one successful prosecution - and that many guilty figures will escape justice because torture has tainted the legal process beyond repair.
My great fear since 2004 is that this could have gotten even worse. Another attack and the abuse of power could have become much worse. A Romney or a Giuliani, empowered by religious fanaticism and a worship of state power, could have taken us down a path much darker than even the Cheney-Addington-Yoo cul-de-sac. Ron Paul emerged as the one Republican prepared to defend the rule of law, the Constitution and habeas corpus in the primaries. But, in the end, McCain emerged by default, a torture victim himself, and a critic of some aspects of the conduct of the war. But we saw in 2006 that, when push came to shove, even McCain acquiesced to the legalization of America's use of the very same torture techniques once used against him. And in this campaign, we have seen how no Republican candidate can escape the logic of bigotry, fanaticism and xenophobia that now grips and motivates the Republican party base. We have also learned, much more importantly, that McCain would appoint Justices to the Supreme Court who would acquiesce to and constitutionally entrench the dictatorial presidency that Bush-Cheney believe in as loyally as Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Scalia. That means we are one vote away from the court ever restraining this unchecked executive. It doesn't matter who that executive is and what party he or she belongs to. What matters is that the controls upon it - controls critical to the endurance of constitutional balance and individual freedom in America - have been frayed to the breaking point. There is no greater cause right now than repairing that.
If I were to give one reason why I believe electing Barack Obama is essential tomorrow, it would be an end to this dark, lawless period in American constitutional government. The domestic cultural and political reasons for an Obama presidency remain as strong as they were when I wrote "Goodbye To All That" over a year ago. His ability to get us past the culture war has been proven in this campaign, in the generation now coming of age that will elect him if they turn out, in Obama's staggering ability not to take the bait. His fiscal policies are too liberal for me - I don't believe in raising taxes, I believe in cutting entitlements for the middle classes as the way to fiscal balance. I don't believe in "progressive taxation", I support a flat tax. I don't want to give unions any more power. I'm sure there will be moments when a Democratic Congress will make me wince. But I also understand that money has to come from somewhere, and it will not come in any meaningful measure from freezing pork or the other transparent gimmicks advertised in advance by McCain. McCain is not serious on spending. But he is deadly serious in not touching taxes. So, on the core question of debt, on bringing America back to fiscal reason, Obama is still better than McCain. If I have to take an ideological hit to head toward fiscal solvency, I'll put country before ideology.
But none of this compares to the task of restoring the rule of law and Constitutional balance. Unlike McCain, Obama has never wavered on torture or habeas corpus or on keeping the executive branch under the law. His deep understanding and awareness of the Constitution eclipses McCain's. Coming from the opposing party, he will also be able to restore confidence that what lies within America's secret government - the one constructed by Bush and Cheney beyond any accountability, law or morality - will be ended or cleaned up. He can restore critically needed trust again - and force the Democratic party to take responsibility for a war which we all need to own, and take responsibility for, again.
- Andrew Sullivan, more -
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
The whole endorsement is important and eloquent but I am extracting a few paragraphs for the conservative case against McCain, Bush and Cheney by Andrew Sullivan.