Cheney Acknowledges a Patriotism He Once Rejected

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.

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7 comments

  1. David Lee · ·

    “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.”

    In reference to your closing statement….as a Democrat since 1978, I am finding it so hard to read and listen to fellow democrats cry and whine about Dick Cheney and his hatemongering. During the last five years we did nothing but tell George Bush how much we hated him, his policies and Cheney. Nothing they did was right in our eyes. We had leaders from our own party tell school children that Bush was an idiot and the list could go on and on. In addition, I hear us whine about the fact that the Repubs won’t “work together” in a bi-partisan fashion. Why would we expect them to? We have jammed everything down the throats of the American people, without any regard to working together. In our self-righteous position of the majority we are the ones that do not understand nor appreciate bi-partisanship. While I admit that I am not a fan of what Obama has done since he has been in office, we cannot have it both ways. We cannot criticize, spew hatred for the last five years and then cry foul when it comes back at us.

    1. We have jammed everything down the throats of the American people, without any regard to working together. In our self-righteous position of the majority we are the ones that do not understand nor appreciate bi-partisanship.

      That makes no sense at all. If you’re in the majority, you can do what you want within the confines of the laws and the constitution. There’s nothing “self-righteous” about that, it’s the whole point of a representative democracy.

    2. I join Lanfranc on this, David, and reject your attempt to frame this as a concern for the betterment of the Democratic Party. This is a Republican talking point cloaked in reformist lingo.

      And I reject, too, your framing of the Bush era debates, and bipartisanship in the modern era. Obama’s fault is taking bipartisanship too seriously, because he expected the Republicans to learn in defeat what they never learned in power: modesty.

  2. “If you’re in the majority, you can do what you want within the confines of the laws and the constitution.”

    I agree, we can do anything we want within the confines of the law and …WE DID. We paid the price for it in losing Kennedy’s seat. I am afraid that we are to lose many more in the upcoming elections. Blaming Bush and Cheney no longer pays any benefit to our cause. Stooping down to the Republican level and playing the blame game is over.

    The issue of bi-partisanship I fear is a one way street for most Democrats. We want the compromise of a few republicans in order to pass our agenda but are we really willing to compromise ourselves? I think not, nor do I see anyone else in the democratic party willing to do so. So we cannot cry foul because the Repubs are not willing to come to the table and work with us. We have done this to ourselves…in our attempt to put Bush in his place, we have alienated ourselves and make no mistake, if Brown’s election is any evidence…the worst for us is yet to come. Bush…Cheney…old news…the call is for the Democratic Party to get up and lead…not blame.

  3. “This is a Republican talking point cloaked in reformist lingo.”

    This is exactly the point that frustrates me about my party. Is this not a self-righteous statement? How long are we going to assume that all of these “tea-parties” and Brown’s election is just a blip on the map of politics. These are major concerns, with major consequences. Simply stating that it is a Republican “talking point cloaked in reformist lingo” makes it no less than a call for true leadership to come from our Democratic party. I do not see the leadership coming from the party now…I see us falling back on “playground” politics of blame. Stooping to Cheney’s level and making it about him and the failed Bush polices will get us nothing but a Republican majority real soon. I hope we change this approach before it is too late. If you deny that we have serious problems in the leadership of our party then I am to assume that you too are blinded by self righteousness.

  4. Personally, I think Brown won because the Democratic leadership didn’t take the election seriously. They thought it was an open and shut case, so they ran a candidate no one actually wanted. Just shows that all politics is local.

    That said, I think the greater problem is that there is an imbalance in the American political system. Under normal circumstances, the majority should be able to introduce and pass the policies they want to, but would have the opportunity to seek bipartisanship for the sake of long-term political stability or whatever. But right now, it’s almost the other way around – the majority is actually obliged to seek the approval from the minority in order to get its policies through.

    And of course, the only reason they have to do that is because of the absurd Senate practice (not even a rule) that has emerged of allowing de facto filibusters. If it wasn’t for that, you’d have a perfectly ordinary majority-minority situation and stuff could actually get done.

    This present situation, however, is a complete anomaly in the history of representative democracy – except for a few outliers, such as Lebanon or Northern Ireland where sectarian conflicts make that sort of consensus absolutely necessary, I can’t really think of other situations where a parliamentarian minority have held that sort of power over the elected majority. I don’t think it’s stable in the long run, either.

    So basically what needs to happen is Harry Reid should grow a spine and tell the Senate Republicans “You want to filibuster? Great, here’s the phone book. Knock yourself out.”

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