Ah, the perils of being Republican presidential contender John McCain. Of all the GOP candidates, on paper his is perhaps the most solid resume: Naval aviator, Vietnam vet, prisoner of war, 20 year Senator with a consistent conservative voting record. But when you're running within a party that cannot distinguish the TV show "24" from real life and when your rivals boost their popularity with mindless rhetoric like "Double Gitmo!," standing up for ideals like "The US shouldn't torture" becomes a treacherous tightrope.
On This Week with George Stephanopolis, the issue of Attorney General Michael Mukasey's refusal to classify waterboarding as torture came up. While the formerly tortured prisoner of war was clear that waterboarding IS torture (bully for him!), that doesn't mean he'll take a stand against Mukasey's nomination:
JM: ...It isn't about an interrogation technique. It isn't about whether someone is really harmed or not. It's about what kind of nation we are. We are a nation that takes a moral high ground. If we engage in a practice that was invented in the Spanish Inquisition, was used by Pol Pot in Cambodia in the great genocide, is now being used on Buddhist monks in Burma and we're going to be the same as that? How do we keep the moral high ground in the world? I would never use that ...
GS: You obviously feel strongly about that. Will Mr. Mukasey have to state clearly that he believes waterboarding is torture in order to get your vote for Attorney General?
JM: I....I....I..can't be that absolute. But I want to know his answer. I want to know his answer. Obviously, you judge a candidate for office or a nominee for office on the entire record, but this is a very important issue for me.
That's some moral high ground, McCain.