Is the half-hidden message of the 2006 campaign season that in the presidential showdown in 2008 we’ll have Senator John McCain running as both a Republican and a Democrat? It would certainly sweep away any remaining doubts that there is any difference between the two major parties. And maybe it would open up some space for outside challengers, assuming all vociferous opponents have not by that time been arrested and stuck behind barbed wire in an internment camp.
What candidate would be more appropriate as the next Commander in Chief than the mad ex-POW who now serves as Arizona’s senior senator? McCain, don’t forget, was under consideration by his senatorial colleague Democrat John Kerry to be his running mate in 2004 before Kerry picked John Edwards, whose prime distinction is that he is married to Elizabeth Edwards, the only Democrat I’ve seen in recent times to display any of the qualities one might hope for in a Democratic presidential nominee.
McCain is obviously aware of his impending responsibilities as the fusion candidate. As Congress prepared its craven assent to President Bush’s destruction of habeas corpus with the Military Commissions Act, he was one of three Republican senators who raised a bleat of protest. True, as is always the case with McCain, it was a very brief bleat, but as against the complaisance of Democrats like Joe Biden (who chortled that the Democrats would be happy to sit on the sidelines as the Constitution thumped into the trash bin) this counts as a lion’s roar.
Even the word “bleat” is a fierce overstatement of the noise raised by any senator, including McCain, as Bush finally junked legal restrictions on the role of the military in domestic law enforcement, a deed consummated with his signature on the same day, October 17, that he signed the Military Commissions Act, which permits warrantless incarceration and torture of suspected terrorists.
Speaking of what is now Public Law 109-364, Senator Pat Leahy whispered into the Congressional Record September 29 that he had “grave reservations about certain provisions” of the bill. The language of these provisions, Leahy said, “subverts solid, longstanding posse comitatus statutes that limit the military’s involvement in law enforcement, thereby making it easier for the President to declare martial law.”
At least when the Military Commissions Act was striding through Congress, the press did demurely note the fact, albeit without alarm sirens, that habeas corpus is headed toward a display case in the Smithsonian. The only story I’ve seen on the significance of Public Law 109-364 came from Frank Morales, on Uruknet, describing its license for the President “to declare a ‘public emergency’ and station troops anywhere in America, taking control of state-based National Guard units…in order to ‘suppress public disorder.'”