McCain for Torture

Kevin Drum reminds us of a November exchange between pro-torture Mitt Romney and John McCain where McCain said:

We’re not going to torture people. We’re not going to do what Pol Pot did. We’re not going to do what’s being done to Burmese monks as we speak.

Sounds like a very principled statement – right? Well, the Senator had the chance to support a bill that included a provision inserted by Senator Feinstein that would restrict the interrogation methods the CIA could use to the Army Field Manual, which bans waterboarding and other harsh techniques currently used by the CIA. David Kurtz follows the stunts that the Republicans used to protect McCain from the wrath of the Republican base:

Republicans were expected to use a parliamentary procedure today that would have blocked the measure by requiring a 60-vote minimum to proceed. But here’s where it gets interesting. Presumptive Republican nominee John McCain opposes waterboarding, which would have put him in the position of voting with the Democrats and against the President on this measure, perhaps giving the Dems the 60 votes necessary to proceed. So the Republicans scuttled that planned parliamentary maneuver, and the full bill went to a vote a little while ago, barely passing, 51-45. Notably, McCain voted against the bill.

Got that? McCain voted with the supporters of torture. Why this hypocrisy? Kevin reminds us of something Joe Klein observed during that November debate:

I attended Frank Luntz’s dial group of 30 undecided – or sort of undecided – Republicans in St. Petersburg, Florida, last night…and it was a fairly astonishing evening … But there was worse to come: When John McCain started talking about torture – specifically, about waterboarding–the dials plummeted again. Lower even than for the illegal Children of God. Down to the low 20s, which, given the natural averaging of a focus group, is about as low as you can go. Afterwards, Luntz asked the group why they seemed to be in favor of torture. “I don’t have any problem pouring water on the face of a man who killed 3000 Americans on 9/11,” said John Shevlin, a retired federal law enforcement officer. The group applauded, appallingly. They also hated anything that Ron Paul said (high 30s to low 20s), especially on the war in Iraq.

This may also explain why McCain has turned into a neo-McCarthyite. It would seem to become the GOP nominee, you have to appeal to the blood thirsty crowd. And it does seem our nation has tortured people – now with McCain’s approval.