Is there any significant Bush administration policy or action that so-called moderate Republicans have tried to stop or even dilute in any meaningful way?
If one good thing can come from our country’s apparent decision to legalize torture, perhaps we can finally agree to kill off the “Myth of the Independent Republican Senators.” To see how this myth plays out time and again, one can take a quick trip down recent memory lane.
When the New York Times revealed on Dec. 16 of last year that the Bush administration has been secretly eavesdropping on Americans without warrants even though doing so is a felony under federal law, several Republican senators expressed what they called “grave concerns,” and they both demanded and promised full-scale investigations. Two key Republican senators in particular, Olympia Snowe and Chuck Hagel (“key” because they are members of the Senate Intelligence Committee) emphatically vowed in a Dec. 21, 2005, letter that there would be hearings to investigate fully the National Security Agency’s wiretapping program. They proclaimed: “We strongly believe that the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees should immediately seek to answer the factual and legal questions which surround these revelations, and recommend appropriate action to the Senate.”
As of Feb. 20, 2006, Newsweek was reporting that “three Republicans — Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Olympia Snowe of Maine and Mike DeWine of Ohio — are expected to join with the Democrats on the [intelligence] committee to vote to demand more information about the secret eavesdropping program from the White House and intelligence agencies.” And it seemed that, at long last, the Bush administration had crossed a line — violating congressional restrictions on eavesdropping and then, when caught, defiantly proclaiming the right to do so — which even Republican senators could not tolerate without having at least a hearing.
But when Sen. Jay Rockefeller introduced a motion in the Intelligence Committee on March 8 to hold hearings to investigate the NSA program, each and every Republican senator — including Snowe, Hagel and DeWine — voted against it, and the motion thus failed by an 8-7 vote. With that complete capitulation, the Intelligence Committee — which has as its prime function ensuring that intelligence activities (such as, say, government eavesdropping on Americans) comply with the law — held no hearings on the NSA program, and as a result, we (meaning American citizens, as well as our senators) still do not know even the most basic facts about warrantless eavesdropping, including how many Americans have been spied on, which Americans were subjected to warrantless eavesdropping, how they were selected for eavesdropping, etc.
Anyone who, at any time over the past five years, has placed faith in those Republican senators who parade around as independent checks on the president has suffered nothing but one disappointment after the next. The poster child for this complex is Arlen Specter, who may be the most vivid example, but he is far from the only one. Is there any significant Bush administration policy or action over the past five years that “moderate, independent” Republicans have stopped or even diluted (or even tried to stop) in any meaningful way? They engage in the pretense of independence over and over, but then end up not just failing to impede, but actively enabling, the administration’s most extreme measures.
Certain pundits who have been decrying the Bush administration’s use of torture as the ultimate evil have, at the same time, been glorifying Sen. John McCain (and others like Sen. John Warner) as exemplary independent political figures. Andrew Sullivan is an example of such a pundit, as is David Broder. What will Sullivan and Broder say now that their allegedly independent and principled heroes have expressly endorsed a legislative framework that authorizes torture? It is time for every honest and rational person who wanted to believe in the Myth of the Independent Republican Senators (and I include myself in that group) to declare this myth dead and bury it once and for all.
More Related Stories
- Is the Environmental Defense Fund ruining environmentalism?
- Top 5 investigative videos of the week: "Winning" Afghanistan
- Jester clowns Westboro Baptist Church
- GOP: Party of crybabies
- Developers evict historic women's shelter to build luxury hotel
- Guantánamo prisoner on hunger strike cries for help on Twitter
- 3 possible solutions to international tax avoidance
- “I just want the U.S. to send my father home”
- Army weapons engineer tied to white nationalist organizations
- Ted Cruz against the world
- David Vitter's hypocritical, punitive, horrible new amendment
- Louie Gohmert: Women should be forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term
- Could hackers destroy the U.S. power grid?
- Democrats may be even worse than Republicans at regulating Wall Street
- Eric Holder versus journalism
- A progressive defense of drones
- There's no substitute for government disaster relief
- Holder signed off on search warrant for reporter
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Mike Judge: "Bowling for Columbine" made me pro-gun
- Closing Gitmo is not enough
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11
War Room is our political news and commentary blog, with coverage and commentary throughout the day.