Like many GamePolitics readers, I was disappointed that none of the videos submitted by gamers made the final cut for last night’s CNN/YouTube Republican debate.
To be fair, however, there are many other crucial issues such as Iraq, abortion, gun control, the economy and the influence of religion on politics. Host Anderson Cooper focused on these.
One telling moment for me, however, came when Mitt Romney could not bring himself to condemn the practice of waterboarding. Here’s a guy who decries violent video games as part the “cultural cesspool” in which today’s children are supposedly swimming but can’t even find it within himself to condemn this acknowledged form of torture?
Sen. John McCain – who was a torture victim during his years of captivity by the North Vietnamese – absolutely ripped Romney on the issue and he was right to do so.
For Romney, the take-away is that virtual violence is a horror, but real-life torture is okay.
Governor, your hypocrisy is showing…
Here’s the video of McCain-Romney exchange. Full text version after the jump.
UPDATE: Entertainment Consumers Association president Hal Halpin has weighed in on the debate:
I was disappointed not to see a gamer question in much the same way that I was disheartened not to hear many other secondary, but important, questions posed.
The ECA member I ran into at PAX… put it into context well in that anyone watching a two hour debate on CNN very likely already knows where the candidates stand on the major issues, and it’s certainly easy enough to find out otherwise.
What we don’t know is where – or even “if” – they stand on the secondary matters. We won’t let up however. Consumer rights are topically important and our demographic can and will be motivated to vote, but only if those politicians are willing to make the effort to speak to issues that are important to us.
Andrew Jones: Hello, gentlemen. I’m Andrew, and I’m a college student from Seattle, Washington. Recently, Senator McCain has come out strongly against using waterboarding as an instrument of interrogation.
My question for the rest of you is, considering that Mr. McCain is the only one with any firsthand knowledge on the subject, how can those of you sharing the stage with him disagree with his position?
Cooper: Governor Romney?
Romney: Well, he certainly is an expert and I certainly would want to get his counsel on a matter of this nature, but I do not believe that as a presidential candidate, it is wise for us to describe precisely what techniques we will use in interrogating people.
I oppose torture. I would not be in favor of torture in any way, shape or form.
Cooper: Is waterboarding torture?
Romney: And as I just said, as a presidential candidate, I don’t think it’s wise for us to describe specifically which measures we would and would not use. And that is something which I would want to receive the counsel not only of Senator McCain, but of a lot of other people.
And there are people who, for many, many years get the information we need to make sure that we protect our country. And, by the way, I want to make sure these folks are kept at Guantanamo. I don’t want the people that are carrying out attacks on this country to be brought into our jail system and be given legal representation in this country. I want to make sure that what happened …
… to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed happens to other people who are terrorists. He was captured. He was the so-called mastermind of the 9/11 tragedy. And he turned to his captors and he said, “I’ll see you in New York with my lawyers.” I presume ACLU lawyers.
Well, that’s not what happened. He went to Guantanamo and he met G.I.s and CIA interrogators. And that’s just exactly how it ought to be.
Cooper: Senator McCain?
(Unknown): There were reports Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded.
McCain: Well, governor, I’m astonished that you haven’t found out what waterboarding is.
Romney: I know what waterboarding is, Senator.
McCain: Then I am astonished that you would think such a — such a torture would be inflicted on anyone in our — who we are held captive and anyone could believe that that’s not torture. It’s in violation of the Geneva Convention. It’s in violation of existing law…
And, governor, let me tell you, if we’re going to get the high ground in this world and we’re going to be the America that we have cherished and loved for more than 200 years. We’re not going to torture people.
We’re not going to do what Pol Pot did. We’re not going to do what’s being done to Burmese monks as we speak. I suggest that you talk to retired military officers and active duty military officers like Colin Powell and others, and how in the world anybody could think that that kind of thing could be inflicted by Americans on people who are held in our custody is absolutely beyond me.
Cooper: Governor Romney, 30 seconds to respond.
Romney: Senator McCain, I appreciate your strong response, and you have the credentials upon which to make that response. I did not say and I do not say that I’m in favor of torture.
I am not. I’m not going to specify the specific means of what is and what is not torture so that the people that we capture will know what things we’re able to do and what things we’re not able to do. And I get that advice from Cofer Black, who is a person who was responsible for counterterrorism in the CIA for some 35 years.
I get that advice by talking to former generals in our military…
Romney: … and I don’t believe it’s appropriate for me, as a presidential candidate, to lay out all the issues one by one…
Romney: … get questioned one by one: Is this torture, is that torture?
Cooper: Senator McCain…
Romney: And so, that’s something which I’m going to take your and other people’s counsel on.
Cooper: Senator McCain, 30 seconds to respond.
McCain: Well, then you would have to advocate that we withdraw from the Geneva Conventions, which were for the treatment of people who were held prisoners, whether they be illegal combatants or regular prisoners of war. Because it’s clear the definition of torture. It’s in violation of laws we have passed.
And again, I would hope that we would understand, my friends, that life is not “24” and Jack Bauer.
Life is interrogation techniques which are humane and yet effective. And I just came back from visiting a prison in Iraq. The Army general there said that techniques under the Army Field Manual are working and working effectively, and he didn’t think they need to do anything else.
My friends, this is what America is all about. This is a defining issue and, clearly, we should be able, if we want to be commander in chief of the U.S. Armed Forces, to take a definite and positive position on, and that is, we will never allow torture to take place in the United States of America.