While Senator Obama helps flooding victims in Iowa, and counsels hard-working college students who are having trouble managing their growing tuition debt, the McCain campaign, meanwhile, has cracked open the seal on their emergency Feargasm Lock Box and unleashed a terrible mythological force.
With a blinding white light, a loud bang and a puff of wig powder, he's emerged from the netherworld of Republican politics like a hunched, creepy, bulbous-foreheaded genie -- shamelessly rattling off his "Very Best Of" compilation of fear mongering slogans -- most of which include those two words (September 11th) without which he would have no power whatsoever on the national stage.
Vlad Rudy Giuliani has re-emerged. And he's trying to frighten Americans into voting for a Republican presidential candidate again.
In addition to a prepared statement that resurrects the antiquated "pre-9/11 mindset" talking point from the 2004 Bush campaign, Vlad Rudy participated in a conference call today in which he made the forthcoming remark -- a comment so misguided in its inaccuracy and so cynical in its exploitative reasoning that it ought to be etched into a cement tablet and placed in a gutter in lower Manhattan, allowing future generations of Americans to spit upon it.
Before we reveal the offending quote, Vlad Rudy's remarks in the conference call began with the usual repetitious fear mongering:
"The reality is there seems to be more concern about the rights of terrorists, or alleged terrorists, than the rights that the American people have to safety and security," Rudy said. "I do not understand why, at a time we're facing this terrorist threat, we want to create new rights that didn't exist before for people alleged to be involved in terrorist activities or alleged to be enemy combatants."
For those of you keeping score, he said the word "terrorist(s)" four times in just two short sentences which I think is a record -- even for him. Huzzah, Rudy! (Using the same word four times in two back-to-back sentences is really difficult without sounding moronic and awkward. Try it now with the word "pants." It's hard, isn't it?)
So this first section was ridiculous, but not necessarily over-the-top offensive. The truly offensive words and implications were reserved for this line:
"It is fair to say that Osama Bin Laden would be given new rights that nobody ever had before."
Oh would he, Mr. Giuliani? To somehow imply -- to merely speculate in form of two logical fallacies within a single sentence (a straw-man argument and an appeal to fear) -- that the U.S. Supreme Court, the Democratic Party and Senator Obama would afford the world's most wanted man special human rights manages to entirely overlook the very real fact that the party you, Vlad, support, and the elected officials you, Vlad, endorse have utterly failed to capture Bin Laden in the first place. And the way Bin Laden's name is so callously and easily invoked as a means of scoring far-right political points makes his on-going freedom appear way too suspiciously convenient.
Bin Laden's freedom.
That bit of truth speaks volumes about the failed policies of Vlad Rudy's Republican Party. Since the beginning of time, one of the most precious rights any living creature can possess is simply the right to be... free. And free Bin Laden remains; recording new tapes and massaging hair dye into his beard while lurking in various safe houses along the western border of Pakistan. Free.
And as long as he's out there -- free -- he might as well be exploited as a spokesperson for the Republican Party and Senator McCain, mainly because their chief executive is too unpopular to fulfill that basic political duty. During the 2006 midterms, for example, "it's fair to say" (and also true) that Bin Laden's face appeared in more GOP ads than did President Bush's face. "It's fair to say" that the forthcoming general election will reflect the same backwards branding.
But what about these so-called "new" rights? Habeas corpus dates as far back as the 12th Century and the idea of due process of law dates back to the Magna Carta. So irrespective of what Rudy and Senator McCain suggest to those people who are ignorant enough to believe them, it's neither a "new right" nor a Get Out of Evildoer Jail Free card. Yet the Republicans are doing their very best to paint this Boumediene v. Bush ruling as if the Supreme Court has unilaterally awarded every Guantanamo detainee with a Willie Horton style weekend furlough, a new car and wad of folding money.
Sorry, but contrary to popular Republican mythology, not every prisoner at Guantanamo is a terrorist -- or, at least they weren't prior to being abducted. According to an investigative report published this week by the McClatchy news service:
An eight-month McClatchy investigation in 11 countries on three continents has found that Akhtiar was one of dozens of men -- and, according to several officials, perhaps hundreds -- whom the U.S. has wrongfully imprisoned in Afghanistan, Cuba and elsewhere on the basis of flimsy or fabricated evidence, old personal scores or bounty payments.
Due process and the Great Writ are designed to prevent such atrocities -- atrocities which could all too easily be carried out against our citizens and our soldiers in this or some other future military engagement. But this war on terrorism is unique in the history of modern conflict in that it's been described as an endless war and therefore those detained at Guantanamo and elsewhere might have otherwise been deprived of due process for a non-specific length of time. This isn't the American Civil War which had a clearly defined victory scenario or endgame. This is George W. Bush's War on Terrorism. The self-described "long war." The endless war. James Madison described such a war as the most dreaded enemy of public liberty.
"War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few."
Senator Obama and the Democrats offer an alternative to the Bush Republican endless war and "the domination of the few." And, for that, they're conflated with Osama Bin Laden and other terrorists by fear mongers like Vlad Rudy Giuliani. More laughable is the fact that Senator Obama is being unfairly demonized for his lack of foreign policy experience by a man whose most recently held public office was that of mayor -- a mayor whose only connection with the war on terrorism (besides his political exploitation of it) is the fact that he ran around in the streets while the towers burned. ("It's only fair" to repeat specifically why was he running around like that. He mistakenly put his command center inside the World Trade Center -- after the towers had already been attacked once.)
This shockingly apocryphal outrage from Vlad Rudy and Senator McCain only serves to underscore the desperation of the Republican Party. After all, how will they win in November without using their best fear mongering tactics in the face of more sensible views... like this one:
"Try them or release them. I think the key to this is to move the judicial process forward so that these individuals will be brought to trial for any crime that they are accused of, rather than residing in [the] Guantanamo facility in perpetuity."
That was Senator McCain from June, 2005. Seriously. "Try them or release them," he said. Of course this version of Senator McCain has long since vanished. Now, the basic notion of a detainee finding out why he's been detained is an unacceptable freedom warranting outraged statements like, "The United States Supreme Court yesterday rendered a decision which I think is one of the worst decisions in the history of this country." This from a man who, only three years ago, demanded that either they be tried or be summarily freed.
I suppose this is why Vlad Rudy has been unleashed. It'll take an army of vampiric, fear mongering hooples to successfully mask over Senator McCain's former, reasonable self.
Follow Bob Cesca on Twitter: www.twitter.com/bobcesca_go