Adam Serwer takes aim at Liz Cheney:
For the GOP, torture is no longer a "necessary evil." It is a rally cry, a "values" issue like same-sex marriage or abortion. They don't "grudgingly" support torture, they applaud it. They celebrate it. Liz Cheney's unequivocal support for torture methods gleaned from communist China has people begging her to run for office.
The psychological underpinnings of Liz Cheney's absurd proposition that, for example, "waterboarding isn't torture" - a phrase that trips off her tongue as if it were a consensus, rather than an extreme outlier - are pretty obvious. Her father is a war
criminal, a man whose incompetence is only matched by his paranoia. Since it is understandably, forgivably hard for her to accept that a person she loves and reveres is actually a torturer, she has to double down on the proposition that it's obvious he isn't a torturer, axiomatic that every torture session gave us actionable intelligence in ways ethical interrogation never could, indisputable that every single threat is a ticking time bomb mandating the use of any means to extract intelligence from any handy victim. Even to have a debate on this is mind-blowing for someone who still thinks of herself as someone who supports human rights, and of her father as a moral man.
There is, moreover, virtue in all this. It is something to be proud of. Because it is only by embracing positive pride in torture that she can keep the nightmare of reality at bay.
But she is conflating private loyalty with civic responsibility. This is, of course, one profound flaw of nepotism and dynasty in political life. Perfectly admirable filial piety in the private sphere warps independent judgment in the public square. Psychological forces best left to private dynamics rupture into civil discourse, giving some citizens far more power than others merely by the accident of DNA or marriage, distorting the debate, turning politics into melodrama, infesting the republican public sphere with monarchical and oligarchic cross-currents. This was Hillary's problem as it was Dubya's.
And so it is utterly unsurprising that family members are in the vanguard of defending a war criminal.
Family members are always, and understandably, the last defenders of the criminal. The Cheneys' natural inability to see Cheney in any reality-based perspective renders them psychologically able, even eager, to defend evil as a force for good in ways more forthright than others. Why this should be a plus for Cheney among the GOP rather than an obvious conflict of interest is part of the right's current derangement. They too cannot hold the concept of their own moral fallibility in their fearful, clenched minds.
While I'm at it, the next time Liz Cheney simply states that "waterboarding isn't torture", will someone please ask her to follow through? She needs to take a trip to Cambodia, visit their Museum of Torture, and request that the waterboard be removed from the exhibit. It is, after all, a mere enhancement of interrogation. And television hosts are constrained from asking her such a blunt question because it appears unseemly to attack a daughter for the sins of the father. And so the corruption spreads.
(Photo: Brendan Hoffman/Getty.)