Real leadership requires having the strength to stand up, even when it isn't easy and victory isn't guaranteed. The Senate's confirmation last night of Michael Mukasey for Attorney General was a devastating failure of leadership, and a serious set back in our fight to take back America.
Mukasey's waffling about waterboarding and torture was unacceptable -- and should have been a deal-breaker from the start. Since the Spanish Inquisition, the rest of the world has been able to identify torture. Why is it too much to expect our attorney general to be clear on what torture is and whether or not it is illegal?
Waking up this morning with another attorney general who won't steadfastly stand against torture was a shock. Even more shocking was that four Democratic U.S. Senators running president failed to even show up for the fight.
I may not be perfect, but I can tell the difference between right and wrong.
Torture is wrong. Torture is un-American. This is a black and white issue. There is no gray -- torture of any kind is a crime.
And I will stand up and say so unequivocally: when I'm president, I will ensure that any form of torture, including waterboarding, will never be used. Furthermore, I will direct the Department of Justice to vigorously investigate and prosecute ANY individual responsible for the use of torture No one is above the law. No one.
This may have been forgotten by the Bush administration, but the attorney general's job is to steadfastly defend the Constitution and execute the laws of the land, without exception or equivocation. Judge Mukasey's willingness to let politics distort such a clear-cut moral issue was disappointing. But, by allowing him to be confirmed as attorney general, the Senate has allowed the Bush administration to move the moral line-in-the sand once again. Have we not learned that when you give this man an inch he will take a mile?
Last night, the confirmation could have been stopped with a filibuster and 40 Democratic votes. The fact that four Senators didn't show up and speak out boggles me. I know they are all against torture, but if they had shown up and spoken out, they may well have changed the outcome.
I believe some things are worth fighting for -- even if you fail, at least you go down fighting. And if the use of torture isn't worthy of that kind of fight, I don't know what is.
You can join me in this fight.
Follow Bill Richardson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/GovRichardson