I understand that liberals are convinced (correctly, if you ask me) that Bush was the beneficiary of their outrageous misfortune that butterfly ballots and hanging chads kept Al Gore from being elected president in 2000, and showed outrageously bad judgment by rushing to war in Iraq and by employing some grisly methods in the War on Terror. So let’s stipulate that: (1) Bush was a lousy president and his being back in Crawford minding his own business rather than the People’s is all to the good; and (2), that, because waterboarding is legally and morally impermissible under all circumstances, Bush should be ashamed of himself for having used it as technique in the War on Terror.
But, in an age of 24-hour news cycles, all of that is ancient history. This post by Dan Froomkin shows that, even as he strives to maintain a discreetly low profile, Bush still provokes new liberal outrage without obviously having done anything new that’s outrageous (my emphasis):
It’s not that liberals are just discovering that they think waterboarding is torture or that Bush doesn’t agree with them. So what can be incrementally “horrif[ying]” about his expressing opinions that he’s expressed and defended more vigorously before? The answer can only be that Bush’s having the audacity to defend himself is a new and different outrage, over and above the outrageousness of his having waterboarded KSM in the first place. And his defending himself “causal[ly]” makes it all the more outrageous.“George W. Bush's casual acknowledgment Wednesday that he had Khalid Sheikh Mohammed waterboarded -- and would do it again -- has horrified some former military and intelligence officials who argue that the former president doesn't seem to understand the gravity of what he is admitting.”
Andrew Sullivan’s reaction underscores the point (my emphasis):
Note the last sentence. Sullivan knows that Bush and Cheney are winning the political battle over enhanced interrogation. So any new outrage provoked by Bush’s defense of his prior decisions can only arise from his failure to acknowledge the liberal community’s intellectual and political authority to decide for everyone else what counts as fighting the War on Terror illegally or immorally. If Bush disagrees with liberal orthodoxy in this connection, he apparently has a civic obligation, if not to seek atonement, at least to keep his mouth shut.“A former president of the United States openly champions the use of torture. So much for my sad attempt to get him to atone. To place the full weight of the presidency behind war crimes is sign of where this country is - as is the Congress's refusal to shut the detention and torture camp at Gitmo. This remains a live issue. A future Republican president will almost certainly now embrace torture as integral to American values and law.”
Would someone explain to me how any reasonable citizen of a representative democracy could imagine that he commands such authority?