W e're dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal and endowed by our creator with inalienable rights. No country ever had a greater cause than that.
- John McCain
"Al-Qaeda terrorists still plan to inflict catastrophic harm on America and he [Obama] is worried that someone won't read them their rights."
- Sarah Palin
These two obviously contradictory statements by the Republican presidential ticket were made within 24 hours of one another at the party's convention two weeks ago. The glaring inconsistency wasn't scrutinized, though, and became lost in the intellectual wasteland of American presidential politics-- where something so minor as the treatment of human beings couldn't possibly attract the attention of the vultures. Yet, this is one of the most important issues the campaign could possibly be about.
In his address to the Democratic National Convention the week prior, President Bill Clinton stated that there were two issues of paramount importance in this election: "to rebuild the American dream and restore American leadership in the world." In order to do so, the U.S. must assert not only its military and cultural leadership, but its moral as well. Clearly, how the country chooses to treat its prisoners has tremendous implications for this.
It is interesting to note that Palin, making such a comment-- which suggests she doesn't have too much concern for how prisoners are treated-- does so while on the same ballot as the only Republican candidate who consistently rejected the use of torture throughout the primaries. That said, this curiosity is not the heart of the issue. Rather, the point that McCain made in his speech is. Disregarding the rights of perceived enemies erodes the philosophic foundation upon which the U.S. is erected. Surely there can be no clearer and more alarming indication that things have gone terribly wrong with the U.S. political situation than the fact that such a statement-- the direct antithesis of the American ideal-- can find its way into a vice-presidential candidate's speech.
In order for the U.S. to reassert itself as a respected world leader, it must go back to its beginning and resurrect its ideals.