The New Attorney General Rules
According to Jon Kyl, and I would imagine a substantial portion of the right, you cannot become Attorney General unless you unequivocally support torturing human beings.
KYL: I think Eric Holder will have some problems. He has not been able to stand up to his bosses in the past, President Clinton when he wanted to do pardons that I think Holder must have realized were big mistakes but he facilitated. And he’s also made some very unfortunate statements about our interrogation of prisoners, terrorists, and other things that lead me to believe that he is not going to be supportive of the Patriot Act, the FISA law, and others. And if he can’t be supportive of those laws, then he shouldn’t be Attorney General.
Got that? If you cannot be trusted to violate federal and international law, you cannot be allowed to become the nation's top law enforcement official. This is the looking-glass view of the world on the right.
And it infects the discourse. I would argue the reason for Obama's stilted rhetoric and the general reticence, outside of John Conyers, to prosecute the war crimes of the torture regime is that nobody in the establishment ever really pushed back in a coordinated fashion on the mainstreaming of torture, that allows for this kind of a statement by Kyl, which would have been almost nonsensical a few years ago. The Village got infected with war fever, goosed by the right, and they are only now coming out of it. And so Obama awkwardly tiptoes around ending torture because there are non-trivial political consequences for doing so. That's a very sad commentary on this country, but it's true.
Once we started having a debate in this country about torture, we made it tacitly acceptable. That was the original sin.