Commentary: Why not throw the whole Constitution out while we're at it?

The Myrtle Beach SunNovember 23, 2009 

I didn't know we had so many scared conservative leaders.

There are a fair number of scared liberal ones as well, given the rhetoric from Washington, Columbia and New York.

But I thought conservative leaders and pundits were the "Bring it on!" types who crave confrontations with terrorists.

The Obama administration plans to try a high-profile terrorist near where the Twin Towers fell. I've heard commentators say "it's an unconscionable decision" that will provide terrorists with a "9-11 Act II," and watched a U.S. representative ask if New York's mayor is prepared to watch his daughter be kidnapped by terrorists.

Even South Carolina gubernatorial candidates have chimed in and demanded that terrorists not be housed here. (Shh!!! Don't tell them that Jose Padilla, who initially was charged with trying to build a dirty bomb, was held in a North Charleston brig for several years, and no terrorists duct-taped dignitaries to antique chairs in downtown Charleston.)

But Cal Thomas, one of the country's most widely read columnists, took the cake with this assessment:

"The administration's first mistake is to label these men 'criminals,' as if a terrorist attack and the announced objective of forcibly 'Islamisizing' America were the same as robbing a bank," he wrote. "The 9-11 attacks were an act of war, as much as if a nation-state had attacked us. Trials should not be held for war criminals until the war has been won."

First notice the inconsistency, which is abundant in this debate. Thomas chastises the administration for calling terrorists "criminals" then goes onto to label them "war criminals." Call them terrorists or murderers or kidnappers or hijackers or kamikaze, radical Islamists. I don't care. Just bring them to justice and prevent other planned attacks.

Thomas also makes a sleight-of-hand argument about how there should be no trials "until the war has been won." Others like him say we are in a war and therefore must temporarily put aside our ideals. Never mind that standing on principles in the toughest moments is the ultimate show of strength. Those same critics even complain that more people aren't calling our efforts "The War on Terror."

We are in the midst of a war that won't ever end because no president will dare declare mission accomplished against radical Islamic terrorism. And yet we are told parts of the Constitution should not apply until the war is won.

Why not just throw the whole thing out. That'll prove how tough we are.

McClatchy Washington Bureau is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service