This headline from today’s Washington Post says it all: “GOP Seeks Advantage In Ruling On Trials.” In other words, now that the Supreme Court has denied that George W. Bush has virtually monarchical powers to deal with terrorist suspects as he sees fit, Republicans want to suggest that any Democrats who recommends legislation complying with the decision is a terrorist-lover. Here’s a sample of what we’re going to hear real soon:
House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) criticized House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi‘s comment Thursday that the court decision “affirms the American ideal that all are entitled to the basic guarantees of our justice system.” That statement, Boehner said, amounted to Pelosi’s advocating “special privileges for terrorists.”
You know what this line of “reasoning” reminds me of? Many years ago I happened to be in one of those states with no limitations on campaigning for judicial positions, and to my horror, I watched a TV ad where some craggy old buzzard cast a steely eye at the camera and said: “Elect me to the bench, and I’ll always rule against the criminals. I’ll be the hangin’ judge.”Now you don’t need a law degree to understand that the reason we have safeguards and procedures for criminal proceedings is that you don’t know who the criminal is until after the trial. Same goes for terrorist suspects. If some sort of evidence-based system for figuring out who terrorists actually are before you punish them is a “special privilege,” then I’m all for it, and you should be, too.