Democrats, Torture, and My Mom


A reader writes:

You wrote:

"My primary feeling with respect to the Democratic party remains contempt."

I know. I feel the same way, and I'm a full-speed-ahead liberal.

But both of us have to realize what they're up against: a nation of voters just mom. She's a lovely woman, Andrew. I love her to death. Sweet, kind, generous--she's got it all. But whenever I try to talk to her about torture, warrantless wiretapping, the Military Commissions Act, and the rest she just tunes out. Not only has she never heard of any of this stuff, but when I bring it to her attention it's as if she simply cannot believe any of it. She doesn't get angry or anything--she's not a "my country right or wrong" type. It's more of a "these go to eleven" sort of thing: she just can't get it into her head that these awful things are happening.

There are millions and millions and millions of voters just like her in this respect.

They have no clue about the things that so rile you and me, and when these matters are brought to their attention they find it easier to believe that the person who's bringing them up is crazy than that they might actually be a problem. Moreover, the issues that do get her attention are of the Obama's flag lapel pin type.

Now let's put ourselves in the Democrats' shoes. How do you deal with a nation of voters like my mom, a nation of people who don't know what the Military Commissions Act is, who are inclined to think you're a little touched if you go on and on about it, but who are easily upset by news that a candidate doesn't wear a flag lapel pin? How do you do it?

Yes, the Democrats need to grow balls. But the fault also lies with the media and, though it pains me to say it, with the moms--or the ones like mine, anyway.

If leading Democrats actually spoke up against torture without Clintonian defensiveness, many moms like my reader's might actually take notice. But the Democrats are in a vicious cycle: too scared to raise the real issues, those issues get obscured so that when they are subsequently raised, it appears as if only the fringe cares about them. And so the actual scandal of Abu Ghraib - that it was a result of official policies set loose, that the images represent in many cases the interrogation techniques approved by Bush and Cheney, that it resulted in one actual murder-by-torture (see above) - might actually be transmitted.