Who’s Worse? That seems to be the argument conservatives want to have about torture and beheadings. Yes, conservatives seem to say, our torture is wrong but give us a pass because our enemy is worse.

Is that what we’ve come to represent in the world: the lesser of two evils?

And it’s not just right wing wackos like MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough who think the U.S. prisoner abuses are overblown. “50 percent of Republicans, 36 percent of independents and 26 percent of Dems say the press has paid too much attention to the prisoner scandal.”

I’m not sure how you spend too much time on a story that makes a mockery of one of the fundamental reasons Bush went to war: to fight evil. How can we win a fight if the world perceives us as simply less evil?

In a column by Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe, he says is “sickened as well by the relish with which this scandal is being exploited by those who think that the defeat of the Bush administration is an end that justifies just about any means.”

I find it ironic, to be charitable, that because those supporting Kerry would use the prisoner abuse scandal against Bush, they are sickly exploiting the issue. I am occasionally criticized on this blog for being too “strident,” as the most recent comment termed a post.

Remember the Clinton impeachment anyone? Remember the personal attacks on the man, not because he encouraged a climate of torture because of his disregard for humane rights and due process, but because he couldn’t keep his zipper zipped? Remember the GOP attacks on former Sen. Max Cleland, a triple amputee Vietnam vet who was portrayed as traitorous by the Bush attack machine? Remember the Bush questioning the patriotism of those who opposed the Iraqi war? Remember the recent attacks on John Kerry’s patriotism because of his involvement with the Vietnam Veterans Against the War?

If Republicans lament the stridency of political discourse, they have no one but themselves to blame. It all started with Lee Atwater and stoked by Bush I and his Willie Horton ads. It was fueled by Karl Rove and Company’s willingness to endanger the life of Joe Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame by revealing her CIA identity.

My guess is the defense of the right will be that, like Islamic fundamentalists, Bush’s critics are worse than whatever inspires Rove and Tom Delay, the mean House majority leader.

Less evil is not the platform on which I’d like my party to stand, much less be the foundation of this county.