THE DEAL ON...

THE DEAL ON THE DEAL. So here's the "compromise" on detainees:

[T]he legislation will enumerate "grave breaches" of the Geneva Conventions which, if committed, could expose US officials to criminal prosecution. The list includes acts such as rape, murder and intentional infliction of bodily harm. For less-than-grave breaches, however, President Bush would be given authority to interpret the Geneva Convention provisions through an executive order. Defendants and their lawyers will not be given access to classified material in military tribunals, and prosecutors will enjoy wide latitude, according to Hadley, in the use of hearsay evidence, with burden on the accused to show that such evidence is either unreliable on irrelevant before it could be excluded.

More in-depth analysis is available here. So Bush got, basically, everything he wanted. The other day, in TAP's weekly editorial meeting, a few of us were puzzling over the motivation for McCain's actions. Why would he sacrifice his accelerating rapprochement with the right over this issue, particularly right before the 2006 election. Various theories were bandied about, from a realization that Republican voters no longer venerated Bush to thoughts on a possible independent candidacy. Our honorable editor man, however, leaned back and offered the novel interpretation, "Maybe McCain just believes in this, and is doing what he thinks is right."

I was sort of struck by that. It had barely even occurred to me that McCain, whatever he did or did not think right, retained motives distinct from his presidential ambitions. It seemed like a good reality check to my preternatural cynicism: These are still people up there, and they deserve to be analyzed as such. But scratch that. As happens so often these days, my cynicism proved not to be too great, but totally inadequate. McCain postured and orated, but when it came down to actually protecting prisoners, folded to the White House. And now the feckless, cowering Democrats who yoked their hopes to his independence have no basis for opposition. What a shameful day on all sides. Oh. And good morning.

--Ezra Klein

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