A torturous compromise

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In the end, you know there will be a compromise. The three GOP senators–led by the ex-POW John McCain–will no doubt strike a deal with the White House on this sticky question of torture. They need to work out the question of whether intelligence operatives interrogating prisoners need to adhere to the Geneva Conventions–which the senators want. After all, they say, what would happen to our men and women taken prisoner if we treated our prisoners another way?

Impasse is not an option, given the fact that the midterm election is 50 days away. Republicans–who have handily changed the topic of discussion from the war in Iraq to the war on terror–do not want to divide their own parade.

So for now, at least, the Republicans will find a way out of this. But in the long term, there will be more issues: First and foremost, the question is how will all of this affect McCain and his nascent presidential candidacy? After all, he's gone out of his way to be a very, very loyal Bush soldier–particularly on his support of the war in Iraq. He was out there–hugging the president, even–during the last presidential campaign. He's gotten the GOP conservatives to finally believe he's one of them, and now this: He's opposing the president on the issue of torture.

That could be fine in an early primary state like New Hampshire, where independent voters really matter in the primary. But down south, well, that's another matter. He's always got South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham on his side–but then again, Graham is in hot water for this, too. Of course, the two men could give their honest defense: This is a matter of principle.

Then again, this being politics, probably no one would believe them.