Our political Quote of the Day comes from Andrew Sullivan who wonders whether former Vice President Dick Cheney is “panicking” as news continues to emerge giving details about the extent of torture under the Bush administration. He points to Cheney’s increasingly harsh public statement taking aim at President Barack Obama and writes:
Did Cheney believe he could hide all this for ever?
Did he believe that hundreds of randomly seized human beings could be consigned to the black hole of Gitmo for ever? And was he really going to launch this kind of appalling attacks on his successors whenever they tried to move past this stuff or be forced, by the law itself and the Geneva Conventions, to investigate and prosecute violations of core human rights?
The ratcheting up of the rhetoric – “I think you have to be very careful. The world outside there — both our friends and our foes –will be quick to advantage of a situation if they think they’re dealing with a weak president or one who’s not going to stand up and aggressively defend America’s interests” – is particularly Weimar. He’s lashing out now, and using his surrogates to write chilling op-eds defending all of it. I see this as a sign oif weakness, not strength. Obama draws these people out like moths to the flame.
That flame is the truth. Let us see it all.
And, to be sure, during the campaign Obama did have a talent to move his critics to go after him bigtime and as his critics flailed way, they imploded and looked frantic and desperate by comparison. Cheney is starting to look like he has a real personal dislike of Obama and that he’s trying to protect his legacy and his legal position. Former Bush administration bigwig Andy Card insists this is all just a matter of policy:
What’s the likely impact of Cheney’s esclating war of words aimed at the President who belongs to the party that beat his in the presidential election? MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Domenico Montanaro hve some thoughts:
Wow, did a former vice president just suggest that a sitting American president is weak? Is there a precedent to this in modern American history?
….Politically, as we’ve said before, Democrats are probably more than happy for Cheney to be back in the news as the defender of the Bush administration. As one GOP strategist tells the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, Cheney “is a face of the past. A face of conflict and too polarizing. So, not a good face of the party.”
In fact, a December 2008 NBC/WSJ poll showed Cheney with a fav/unfav rating of 21%-58%. But this entire Cheney vs. Obama debate on interrogation fires up both bases — and thus makes for perfect cable chatter. Yet what are people in the middle thinking? The answer to that question will tell you the short-term winner of this debate. One other question we have: Does Cheney actually have the ability to declassify CIA memos?
Prediction: polls have shown that Cheney has dismal credibility with independent and moderate voters — just as his polls ovall have been dismal. His recent comments increasingly sound like someone who has an axe (or waterboard) to grind.
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.