The Lads Bicker

14Jun08

The lads, Johnny and Barry, are having a spat over habeas corpus. It’s a good fight, too. Goes to fundamental principles. And both have a valid principle that they’re defending. Barack believes that the Supreme Court ruling granting Gitmo prisoners access to the U.S. courts is a good one because

a state can’t just hold you for any reason without charging you and without giving you any kind of due process — that’s the essence of who we are. I mean, you remember during the Nuremberg trials, part of what made us different was even after these Nazis had performed atrocities that no one had ever seen before, we still gave them a day in court and that taught the entire world about who we are but also the basic principles of rule of law. Now the Supreme Court upheld that principle yesterday.”

And McCain rightly suggests that treating terrorists taken off the battle field to the legal rights that are bestowed upon U.S. citizens is nuts – these guys are dangerous enemy fighters who shouldn’t be able to avoid responsibility for their actions, or be empowered to weaken the war on terror, by manipulating our courts.

“These are enemy combatants,” McCain said. “These are people who are not citizens. They do not and never have been given the rights that people in this country have. And, my friends, there are some bad people down there, there are some bad people.”

McCain predicted that the courts will soon be flooded with habeas corpus cases on behalf of the detainees. His message: “Our first obligation is the safety and security of this nation and the men and women who defend it. This decision will harm their ability to do that.”

Both men win points with their core voters with their positions. Liberals can’t stand anything that sounds like America being tough on those who hate us. Barack’s, I suspect, is the easier sell given attitudes toward the war, but McCain’s resonates with those mainstream American voters who Hillary did so well with against Barack.

Which is why both men like the fight. Says Barack:

“If you want to preserve civil liberties, if you want to preserve civil rights, if you want to make sure that the courts are looking out for consumers and not just big business, then that should be a factor in your decision-making in this election.”

Jake Tapper thinks McCain gets the best of the argument.

But I don’t know if this is a winning political issue for Sen. Obama. A dynamic can be created where Obama is Lt. Daniel Kaffee, McCain is Col. Nathan Jessup.

And McCain’s message to America will be: You want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.

(Obviously this is a deeply flawed metaphor, especially given McCain’s activism against torture. But the disdain Nicholson’s character show’s for Cruise’s in that clip, not to mention the general personas – crabby, cantankerous military man against glib pretty-boy lawyer — might amuse you on this Saturday afternoon.)

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