Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) asked a very good and legitimate question at this weekend's Conservative Political Action Conference:
McConnell managed to draw a standing ovation with a jab at the Obama administration for its plan to remove detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. "What the Obama administration needs to answer is a very simple question: Where exactly do you intend to send these guys?"
I suspect this is indeed a question that a great many lawyers at the Justice Department and Department of Defense -- including our very own Phil Carter -- are asking themselves as they try to shut down Guantanamo. What happened next, though, is ridiculous:
"San Francisco!" someone said.
McConnell said that was a good suggestion and added: "Let me tell you where they ought to be. They ought to be right there in the jail in Guantanamo!"
As the crowd cheered, he said, "You guys get it."
When I was growing up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, you could still find people who continued to insist segregation was a good thing and consistent with their Christian values. Today, I can find a good number of my co-religionists who think that torture can be justified from within Christian values and compatriots who believe the Guantanamo prison system can be justified from within American values. But this is no longer 12 September 2001, and these people are fewer and fewer. John McCain -- reviled by the conservatives at CPAC -- understood that. George W. Bush also understood a need to close Guantanamo. Until rank-and-file members of the Republican Party understand this, their party will continue to be out of step with the rest of the country, which breathed a sigh of relief when the current president announced a plan to close what has become a blight on American values. (And no disrespect is intended to the many servicemen and servicewomen who have served their country at Guantanamo.)
Large swaths of the electorate have stopped paying attention to Republicans, [McConnell] said.
Well, no kidding.
In other CPAC news and completely unrelated to war or counter-insurgency or such, Grover Norquist said:
"Barack Obama is the guy who signs the bills, but Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are the ones who run the government," he said. If the government were a martini, he said, "Obama is the vermouth."
Ah, but hold on a second. I'm guessing Grover is the kind of guy who sips his martini with only a breath of vermouth. And that's okay. But the new style in martinis is to use more vermouth. Some even serve a half-and-half mixture of gin and vermouth. (Crazy, I know.) I myself find that if you use a good vermouth, such as Noilly Prat, 4-to-1 or even 3-to-1 is not such a bad mix. So maybe the balance between the executive and legislative branches is not as out-of-whack as Norquist thinks it is. It's just that Norquist is stuck in the 20th Century as far as spirits are concerned.