Until I heard Mitt Romney at the second Republican presidential debate proclaim that he wants accused terrorists at Guantánamo, “where they don’t get the access to lawyers they get when they’re on our soil ... my view is, we ought to double Guantánamo” to wild applause from the audience I had assumed that the fact that approximately one third of the nation still supports the Bush Administration did not necessarily mean that this number of Americans actually opposed the rule of law, opposed giving those accused of crimes a fair trial and supported torture. I had thought that at least some people who call themselves Republicans held traditional conservative values and were either ignorant of or appalled (at least privately) at what was being done at Guantánamo. It now appears that I was wrong. If there are any remaining traditional conservatives who value the rule of law, human rights and the dignity of the individual they do not attend Republican presidential debates or talk to pollsters.
Unless the eventual Republican presidential nominee somehow manages to do some sort of U-turn on these issues between the Republican convention and the election it appears that in the November 2008 presidential election the American public will be asked to vote up or down on the rule of law, on Guantánamo and on torture. In that event we should not have anyone complaining that they cannot tell the candidates apart or that their vote does not matter.