Now that I've had more than a week to mull over the political implications of the way the torture debate played out, I'm less disappointed in the Democratic Party. The fact is that this law is so radical - such a dramatic departure from the rights that western democracies have held for eight centuries - that there is little doubt that the Supreme Court will find the law unconstitutional. In fact, I don't see how the tribunals they have authorized even fully conform to the requirements set down by Hamdan vs Rumsfeld. Since the Court is bound to overturn the law, the rank abuse the law represents is less troubling.
So, in effect, by staying out of the debate almost entirely, the lasting political effect of the debate only serves to hurt the GOP, since the highly publicized and fierce fight was between members of their own party and the President. That helps inoculate the Democrats in the public's mind from the various smears that the Republicans love to trot out, although that wont stop them from accusing us of wanting to take the terrorists out on a hot date, where we no doubt have coffee and stare longingly at each other while taking turns giggling. All in all, I think it was well played, even though it still marks an abhorrent low point in American moral history.