Only two days after endorsing him, President Bush is about to put Republican nominee John McCain in a very awkward position on Saturday, when he vetoes a bill that would ban the use of waterboarding by the CIA. The Bush administration has contended that a ban on the use of the technique, which simulates drowning, would harm the nation’s ability to prevent future terrorist attacks. The president’s veto is certain to put the spotlight on McCain, who, until recently, had long been outspoken against all forms of torture.

Here is what McCain said while campaigning in Sioux City, Iowa last October. “Anyone who knows what waterboarding is could not be unsure. It is a horrible torture technique used by Pol Pot and being used on Buddhist monks as we speak.  People who have worn the uniform and had the experience know that this is a terrible and odious practice and should never be condoned in the U.S. We are a better nation than that…When I was imprisoned, I took heart from the fact that I knew my North Vietnamese captors would never be treated like I was treated by them… There are much better and more effective ways to get information. You torture someone long enough; he’ll tell whatever he thinks you want to know.”

McCain failed to back up his campaign rhetoric in February when he voted against this same bill when it was going through the Senate. It would appear that what we have here is an obvious case of a nominee changing his position to conform to the rest of his party. With one swath of his veto pen, President Bush will force John McCain to choose whether he is going to stick to his principles, or pander for the presidency. If you really have to wonder which one he will choose, then you probably have not been following presidential campaign politics for very long.

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