Laura Waterman Wittstock

Laura Waterman Wittstock is president and CEO of Wittstock & Associates. The firm provides consultation in new projects, creative, development, assessment/evaluation, and governance. Read more about Laura Waterman Wittstock

Waterboard That Senate Seat

Posted by: Laura Waterman Wittstock Updated: May 3, 2009 - 11:33 AM
The exit of Pennsylvania Senator Arlan Spector from the Republican Party is a moment of pain and potential confession for the party. It will have to admit, eventually, that its severe turn to the right has cast salt on everything else it has done up to now. There are moderate Republicans and there are socially liberal Republicans. We know them well in the persons of Al Que, Arne Carlson, and hundreds of less notable Minnesotans who belong to the Republican Party. 

It must be said that the Republican Party leaders can't be entirely blamed for the Spector shift. The voting public had something to say about it. Ronald Reagan was one of the most popular presidents we ever had. According to Rasmussen Reports, Reagan come in 9th of most popular presidents with a 72% favorable rating. That's pretty darned good considering he is behind George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy. Reagan has the national airport in Washington, D.C. named after him - ironic since he fired the airport controllers. More fitting to his personal philosophy is the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in D.C. It is the first ever built for governmental and private sector purposes. The American public signaled its approval of government and the private sector (read business) getting cozy with one another when it elected Reagan twice. It also signaled a suspicion of unions and even members of unions joined others by voting for Reagan. As Margaret Thatcher worked to privatize government activity in the UK, so did Ronald Reagan in the USA. Something fundamental about government was being said: business can do it better.

It seems that what drove the long serving Spector from the Republican Party is a complicated story which can been parsed in miniscule parts that range from Spector's evaluation of support for his next run; the sparse stable of moderate Republicans; and, the unrepentant far right. Former vice president Dick Cheney insisted that waterboarding produced some results and they should be revealed to the public. Don't you wonder why he didn't do that when he was vice president? Well that's right, he did not want waterboarding to end because it wasn't torture.


Members of the American military have publicly said they wanted an end to waterboarding because captured Americans could be subjected to the same or worse. Other former military cite the interrogation of captured German military who were being held in the United States. Ordinary conversation, psychological probing, and kindness extracted important and needed information. 

We have learned important lessons from the wars we have fought on foreign soil. When in Europe, we tended to be humane. When in Viet Nam, our behavior toward allies and enemies alike was often brutal. Now, our presence in the Middle East is again bringing out the worst of our American hubris. To make any progress forward, our country will have to keep lifting its legs out of the sticky mass we have created in the Middle East and Afghanistan due in no little part to our governmental and private sector agreements with wasteful business that wantr profit not peace.








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