So Is Torturing A Daughter OK?

09/15/2006 05:15 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The best way to make a political case against an untenable position is to ask a question that paints the opponent into a corner, because it has no "right" answer.

The most famous of these is "So tell us, Senator, have you stopped beating your wife?"

The most devastating of these (since Dukakis flubbed the answer so badly) was when a debate moderator asked Michael Dukakis, "Governor, if Kitty Dukakis [his wife] were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?"

The most recent conundrum was the brilliant "If there's a fire in a clinic and you can save a live baby or 100 frozen embryos -- but not both -- which one would you save?" which points out the fallacy of equating embryos with live children.

But we need some new ones, and we need them quickly. Republicans are trying to paint anyone who opposes torture as being "soft on terrorists." So all the anchors on all the Sunday news talkfests this week need to ask their Republican guests the following two questions.

"If your daughter were a member of the U.S. Army and were captured by an enemy, and waterboarding and other 'interrogation techniques' you are condoning the United States use were used against her -- against your own daughter -- would you call those techniques 'torture' or would you defend them as being legal techniques?"

Catch-22. There's just no way to answer that question. That's why it needs to be asked.

The follow-up question is easy, too.

"If we hold a terrorist and we think he knows about an imminent plot, you advocate 'aggressive interrogation techniques' against him, since his comfort is less important than saving the lives of so many in an attack on America -- but if he has been trained to resist interrogation and doesn't talk, would you also advocate using the same techniques on his innocent nine year old daughter, in front of him, in an effort to make him talk?"

Once again, an unanswerable question.

How insane is it that this is an election issue? What kind of country have we become? Even Colin Powell is pointing out that we're now taking the moral low road. Have we all forgotten all those World War II movies with the guy in a dirty lab coat and a thick German accent saying "Ve haff vays of makink you talk..."?

Remember -- those were the bad guys in those movies, not the United States of America.

[I apologize for posting three times this week -- don't want to wear out my welcome -- but this issue just punched my buttons. Next week it's back to my one post on Wednesday, I promise!