In its never-ending task to glorify all things Republican, and transform politics into page-six tabloid fodder, Politico offered over the weekend an examination of “Why Dick Cheney Attacks [President Obama],” with predictable analysis. The Republican narrative is reported as fact, with pushback occurring only late in the article, as what “critics say”: Cheney’s just a concerned citizen, who stepped out of retirement to sound the alarm about Obama’s “dangerous” policies:
Cheney associates say he abandoned plans for a sedate post-Bush administration retirement of fly-fishing and memoir writing because he is genuinely concerned that Obama is a weak leader who is responding to political pressures in modifying war and terror policies that Cheney himself was instrumental in crafting.
Truly, a modern Cincinnatus.
The premise is flawed. Obama’s actually doing pretty well on the national security front, rolling up part of the Taliban’s operation and, by all accounts, successfully leveraging the criminal justice system to gain useful intelligence.
But even if the facts are against him, if Cheney “attacks” out of true concern, good for him. Politics should be full of people, on both sides, who feel compelled to speak their mind candidly when they believe the public needs counsel — rather than, as appears to be the case for some, running away. Civil dissent is the patriot’s greatest duty.
What should strike us as ironic, though, is that Cheney flatly rejected this form of patriotism while in office. One example among thousands:
In the sharpest White House attack yet on critics of the Iraq war, Vice President Dick Cheney said on Wednesday that accusations the Bush administration manipulated intelligence to justify the war were a “dishonest and reprehensible” political ploy.
Cheney called Democrats “opportunists” who were peddling “cynical and pernicious falsehoods” to gain political advantage while U.S. soldiers died in Iraq.
We can accept that Cheney’s distaste for Obama is genuinely felt. But as a threshold issue, we must also accept that such feelings can be properly expressed during wartime, against the President, without the expression alone incurring accusations of unpatriotic hatemongering.