Tired of Defending Dick Cheney

cheney

Way back in early June, when Mr. Cheney was well into his “Obama is soft on terrorism” tour, Frank Rich wrote a column in the New York Times titled, “Who Is to Blame for the Next Attack?”

In his piece, Rich rightly condemned Cheney’s attempts to once again “using lies and fear… rewrite history and escape accountability for the failed Bush presidency…”

Rich was referring to Cheney’s infamous “no middle ground” speech on torture at the American Enterprise Institute, and also condemned the incessant and groundless Cheney-G.O.P. accusations that the Obama administration is making our country “less safe,” that Obama’s “half measures” are leaving Americans “half exposed,” that Obama is unraveling “the very policies that kept our people safe since 9/11,” and the G.O.P. implication that “In other words, when the next attack comes, it will be all Obama’s fault.”

At the time, something Rich wrote didn’t sound right, didn’t sound fair to me. Referring to Cheney’s “no middle ground” speech on torture, Rich wrote: “The speech itself, with 20 mentions of 9/11, struck the same cynical note as the ads, as if the G.O.P. was almost rooting for a terrorist attack on Obama’s watch.”

In a post at the time, I admonished Frank Rich and Democrats and went on to defend Dick Cheney and the G.O.P., concluding with the following words:

Just as Americans would never wish their country to fail militarily for political purposes, I do not believe Americans would “root” for another terrorist attack just to make a political point…

Only a week or so later, responding to the same “no middle ground” Cheney speech, CIA Director Leon Panetta made the following comments in an interview with The New Yorker: “I think [Cheney] smells some blood in the water on the national-security issue…It’s almost, a little bit, gallows politics. When you read behind it, it’s almost as if he’s wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point. I think that’s dangerous politics.”

In a June 15 piece, I again defended Mr. Cheney: “While I do think that Cheney is lying, fear mongering and trying to rewrite history, I would not go as far as to say that he and the G.O.P. are rooting or wishing for another attack on our country.”

A couple of weeks later, on the eve of the pullback of U.S. troops from Iraqi towns and cities, as agreed to by the Bush-Cheney administration, Cheney said: “But what [Odierno] says concerns me: That there is still a continuing problem. One might speculate that insurgents are waiting as soon as they get an opportunity to launch more attacks.”

Sadly, the next day, the New York Times reported:

As if on cue, a car bomb exploded in a crowded outdoor market in the northern city of Kirkuk late Tuesday, killing at least 24 people, in a deadly reminder that the violence here will continue through the pullback of American troops…

In “Update: U.S. Troop Pullback in Iraq—Cheney’s Dark Words and Thoughts,” I wrote:

After having defended Cheney against insinuations and clear attacks made against him and the G.O.P that it is “as if the G.O.P. was almost rooting for a terrorist attack on Obama’s watch,” and, “When you read behind it, it’s almost as if [Cheney is] wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point,” I will not now say that Cheney is hoping for the insurgents in Iraq “to launch more attacks.”

However, I will restate my hope expressed last night. A hope that if, God forbid, Cheney’s dark fears materialize, he will not resort to the “I told you so” sleaze that many are fearing he will use if we, God forbid again, are attacked once more on our own soil…

Now, fast-forward to yesterday, December 30, just a few days after the attempted bombing of Northwest flight 253.

On the very same day that we learned that at least six more Americans had been killed in the Afghanistan war–a war to which President Obama has just committed an additional 30,000 troops—Dick Cheney emerges again in a pathetic attempt to make political hay out of a near tragedy.

In comments to Politico, the former Vice President has the audacity to accuse the president of “trying to pretend we are not at war,” and lectures the Commander in Chief about his responsibilities to “defend us against an enemy that knows we are at war.”

Mr. Cheney, there is absolutely no pretense involved in committing an additional 30,000 American men and women to combat, to a war from which many of them will never return. Our brave troops and the American people know that we are not “pretending” and the president certainly knows it, especially after anguishing about such a grave commitment and after having traveled to Dover Air Force Base to pay his last respects to those who have defended us “against an enemy that knows we are at war.”

With all due respect, Mr. Cheney, it is high time for you to realize that it is not Republicans or Democrats who are fighting this war on terrorism, but Americans, and that Americans don’t “pretend” being at war.

I have no illusions that my defense of you or my criticism will have any impact on you, Sir.

You made that perfectly clear in an interview back in April 2008, while you were still Vice President of our great country.

When you were asked what you thought about polls that indicated two-thirds of Americans believed that the war in Iraq was not worth fighting, that the cost in lives was not worth the gains, your answer, one single word, said it all: “So?” you said.

Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist