The Corner

Hamdan & The GOP

I’m still wading through all the post mortems, but so far put me in the Andy McCarthy camp. But while I have real problems with the decision on the merits, I can’t shake the sense that all of this “Bush rebuked” stuff isn’t overblown. Every news story seems to be a Trojan horse for some amount of punidtry about Bush’s “defeat.” And while it was surely a legal defeat, doesn’t the decision have all the makings of a political victory for the GOP?

Basically the Court threw the whole issue in Congress’ lap. Right? They have to decide what to do with detainees.

Well, here you have Nancy Pelosi saying the decision was not only a “triumph” but that “Today’s Supreme Court decision reaffirms the American ideal that all are entitled to the basic guarantees of our justice system.”

If you were running for Congress as a Republican, wouldn’t you be tempted to run that quote over pictures of the 9/11 hijackers and the World Trade Center crashing down? Hamdan makes national security and terrorism a central issue of the Congressional elections, again.That’s good news for the GOP, I think.

Besides, while I think the Court probably should have stayed out of this, it does sound like Congress has some leeway here. Andy and others will correct me if I’m wrong, but the Court said that the status quo is illegal, not unconstitutional. So, as inconvenient as it may be to the executive branch, we’ll have the legislative branch step up to the plate for a change and rewrite the law. As a matter of simple democracy and getting both the public and the Congress to buy into the war on terror, debating what America should do with these guys strikes me as a perfectly healthy subject for an election year — and one that is ultimately advantageous for the GOP.

So, what am I missing?

Update: One thing I’m missing, from a reader:

I think you missed the part where the Court elbowed its way into the WOT.

Maybe Congress can fix the statutory deficiency, and maybe the GOP wins the public opinion battle post-Hamdan (oh, goodie!), but the Supremes just laid claim to a part of the President’s war powers. As Thomas J said, that is unprecedented and very dangerous.

Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor of National Review and the author of Suicide of the West, holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute.

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