At Least He’s Not Joe Lieberman

I’m still pondering the merits of McCain as a veep choice, though I’m pretty sure that I’m against it. Basically, it still seems so unlikely that it’s not worth considering too carefully. Besides, Mark Kleiman’s done some of the thinking for me so I don’t have too.

But there is one factor weighing strongly in favor of John McCain: he’s not Joe Lieberman, who yesterday embraced torture

On CNN’s “Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), a member of the Armed Services Committee, called the allegations serious and said they should be investigated. But, he said, if a special interrogation unit focused on suspected terrorists could have prevented Sept. 11, “I don’t think there are many Americans who would say we shouldn’t use whatever means are necessary to extract that information.”

Great point, you sanctimonious twit. One question: how do you know who to torture? Many of us, including me, will agree that if we (1) Knew something like 9/11 was going to happen, and (2) Knew and had access to those with the information needed to prevent said attack, then we’d endorse applying whatever force is necessary to extract the information (others might choose to draw an absolute moral line and still object.) But in virtually any case where conditions (1) and (2) hold, we would already have the information needed to stop the plot.

So Joe’s either engaging in more self-aggrandizement or he’s endorsing widespread torture in the hopes of finding a needle in a haystack. If the latter, what’s the right yield rate (accurate tips per person tortured) and what’s the threshold number of prevented deaths? (The footnote to this old post has some thoughts on acceptable ratios of punishment of the innocent to punishment of the guilty.) Until he can answer the tough questions, Lieberman should stick to complaining about indecent video games and blaming stuff on Hollywood.

Back to the McCain question, not being Joe Lieberman is a major plus for him, but many other viable candidates (I’d venture to say all but one) cross that threshold as well (I like Kleiman’s idea of Zinni or Shinseki.) I do, however, like McCain heading State or Defense — positions where his experience and multilateral appeal could add a lot of value yet he would have little purview over areas where his conservative views would be problematic (e.g., judicial appointments.)