Sean Hannity's offer to undergo waterboarding for charity is almost too good to refuse. However, before we undertake any such extraordinary interrogation techniques (EIT's, for short) on the Fox talk show host, we should be sure to get some airtight legal opinions to make sure we won't run afoul of the Geneva Convention. I know a couple of former Justice Department employees who would fit the bill perfectly -- and I'm pretty sure they'll find a way to carve out a broad exception to the rules against torturing right-wing blowhards. If there ever was an open and shut threat to national security, Mr. Hannity fits the bill.
But what's the real purpose of waterboarding slick Sean? Is this a case of exigent circumstances? A ticking clock? "Hell, yes," as they say in neocon lingo. We need to know if Mr. Hannity really believes all the tripe he spews or is he just doing it to grab viewers and sell books? Well, actually, we already know the answer to that question without torturing the guy. But what else does he know that he's not telling us? Is there really a vast right-wing conspiracy, or is it actually a few wingnuts like Sean and Rush who are making a couple of bucks by stirring up the hackles of the left and tickling the cockles of the right? And after we get through waterboarding Sean -- 183 times sounds about right -- will we really have gotten any useful information out of him? (What do you think?)
And beyond all the legal mumbo-jumbo about international rules and conventions, would it be morally right to torture Sean the talk show man? Of course it would. If anyone deserves waterboarding, it is clearly Sean Hannity. In fact, he's asking for it. But what about the American tradition against torture? Didn't we actually prosecute Japanese officers as war criminals for waterboarding? That's true, but I'm sure there are a number of folks who would gladly face a war crimes tribunal for a chance to strip Hannity naked and subject him to simulated drowning. In the end, we have to ask whether America would be any better off for having tortured people like Mr. Hannity. And the answer to that question is -- of course we would. In fact, televising the event would probably drastically improve America's image around the world.
Which brings me to what is clearly a budding new concept in reality TV, and probably the debut of a clever marketing campaign by Fox. Look for the new series Torture the Talk Show Host to premiere this spring, featuring bloviators from the left and right. Picture Rush Limbaugh after a week of forced sleep deprivation. Or how about Lou Dobbs with women's underwear on his head? Or Keith Olbermann crawling on the floor with a collar around his neck? True, it may go beyond the bounds of good taste, but when did that ever slow down the onslaught of reality television? After all, the bottom line of reality TV, not to mention talk shows and cable news and much of the rest of lowest-common denominator media is (what else?) -- the bottom line. So don't preach to me about morality, folks. For a crack at Hannity on the rack, I'm almost ready to cross over to the dark side.