So whoever seriously thought that former Vice President Dick Cheney would go quietly into the night or give the new President more than just two weeks to prove himself? If you did then here’s proof that those who practice the kind of baby-boomer-era derived “smart good guys us versus dumb and weak and dangerous guys them” politics won’t give it a rest — not even for a single month:
Former Vice President Dick Cheney warned that there is a “high probability” that terrorists will attempt a catastrophic nuclear or biological attack in coming years, and said he fears the Obama administration’s policies will make it more likely the attempt will succeed.
In an interview Tuesday with Politico, Cheney unyieldingly defended the Bush administration’s support for the Guantanamo Bay prison and coercive interrogation of terrorism suspects.
There’s nothing wrong with Cheney defending his policies, which he sincerely believed were for the good of the country. But, using the political style to which he is accustomed, he goes into attack mode — less than three weeks into Obama’s term:
And he asserted that President Obama will either backtrack on his stated intentions to end those policies or put the country at risk in ways more severe than most Americans — and, he charged, many members of Obama’s own team — understand.
“When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an Al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry,” Cheney said.
Protecting the country’s security is “a tough, mean, dirty, nasty business,” he said. “These are evil people. And we’re not going to win this fight by turning the other cheek.”
Firstly, when did Obama or anyone in his administration claim that the policy was to “turn the other cheek?” They didn’t.
This is truly a breathtaking interview, if you follow American politics or American history.
You will find few instances of a former President or former Vice President going after someone who replaced them, even if the next administration greatly shifted policies. Most politicians when they leave office exercise a certain amount of “class” where they will for the good of the country and national unity not try to stir up resentments among their followers.
Cheney has no such goal:
Cheney called Guantanamo a “first-class program,” and “a necessary facility” that is operated legally and with better food and treatment than the jails in inmates’ native countries.
But he said he worried that “instead of sitting down and carefully evaluating the policies,” Obama officials are unwisely following “campaign rhetoric” and preparing to release terrorism suspects or afford them legal protections granted to more conventional defendants in crime cases.
The choice, he alleged, reflects a naive mindset among the new team in Washington: “The United States needs to be not so much loved as it needs to be respected. Sometimes, that requires us to take actions that generate controversy. I’m not at all sure that that’s what the Obama administration believes.”
PERSONAL NOTE: Yesterday I talked with a well-known blogger and told him that I feel the country will be far better off when all of the baby-boomers — practicing their Vietnam War era-based politics that was picked up and exploited effectively by Richard Nixon (read the book Nixonland) — have totally passed from the scene. And this is not being said by someone who is not a baby boomer.
“The country will be better off when no more baby boomers are around to ruin our politics, ” I told him. “Of course, I hope I live to be 120 and that I’m the one baby boomer around to see the change.”
In terms of lifting the quality of our discourse into the realm of ideas and policies, baby boomers are not “The Greatest Generation.” My generation has proven to be in terms of lifting the quality of our discourse to be the greatest degeneration.
Could Cheney prove to be right?
Time will tell — but he isn’t willing to give any time in the interest of national unity. Just attack and claim the Obama administration is ready to “turn the other cheek” when there is nothing on record or even quoting unnamed sources that indicates that is under consideration as a policy.
It’s part of the political culture in which Cheney was raised.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.