Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dick B.S. Cheney and the Republican attacks on President Obama


So I return from my brief hiatus from blogging this evening, and what's the first thing I see when I scan the news? More of the same old bullshit from Dick Cheney:

Former Vice President Dick Cheney accused President Barack Obama on Tuesday of "trying to pretend we are not at war" with terrorists, pointing to the White House response to the attempted sky bombing as reflecting a pattern that includes banishing the term "war on terror" and attempting to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center.

"[W]e are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren't, it makes us less safe," Cheney said in a statement to POLITICO. "Why doesn't he want to admit we're at war? It doesn't fit with the view of the world he brought with him to the Oval Office. It doesn't fit with what seems to be the goal of his presidency -- social transformation -- the restructuring of American society."

Some things never change.

Last time I checked, President Obama knows full well "we're at war." Why else would he have called, against the objections of many of his most ardent supporters, for an escalation of the Afghan War -- a surge, that is -- much like the one Dick 'n' Dubya launched, much too late, the war having been a failure, in Iraq?

Last time I checked, President Obama is hardly a pacifist.

But you get it, don't you? When Democrats criticized Bush, as some did even early on after 9/11 and certainly once the Iraq War got underway, they were being unpatriotic and even treasonous. But Republicans, oh, they can criticize Obama relentlessly, brandishing hypocrisy without a trace of irony. Why do they get to attack the Commander-in-Chief during a time of war while demonizing Democrats for doing far less? Because that's just the double standard they live by, and because Democrats, alas, don't always call them on it -- and admirably, I would add, don't take cheap, flag-waving shots like Republicans do.

But it's not just that Cheney et al. are criticizing, or rather viciously attacking, Obama in the hopes of scoring a political point or two, it's that they're just plain wrong. Here's Steve Benen with his usual dose of sanity:

Let's review a few pesky details. First, it was Cheney's administration that released some of the alleged terrorists who plotted the attack into an "art therapy rehabilitation program" in Saudi Arabia, only to see them become terrorist leaders in Yemen. It was also Cheney's administration that gave Abdulmutallab a visa to enter the United States in the first place.

Second, let's compare some "low-key responses." President Obama addressed a failed terrorist attack three days after it occurred. Eight years ago, when a terrorist tried to blow up an airplane under nearly identical circumstances, then-President Bush waited six days before making brief, cursory public remarks. Five days after the attempted terrorist attack, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld refused substantive comment altogether, telling reporters, "That's a matter that's in the hands of the law enforcement people." A White House spokesperson would only say at the time that officials were "continuing to monitor events."

Democrats, at the time, didn't launch an assault against the Bush administration, and we didn't see Al Gore condemning the White House. It simply didn't occur to Democrats in 2001 to use the attempted mass murder of hundreds of Americans to undermine the presidency.

Eight years later, Dick Cheney believes his principal responsibility is to destroy President Obama -- the man Americans chose to clean up the messes Cheney left as a parting gift after eight years of abject failure.

Very well put, I must say, and this is what we must do: counter Republican lies with the truth, and to do so as forcefully as we can.

As for Obama, what should he have done, and what should he be doing now? Should he be down at Reagan or Dulles personally checking the undergarments of passengers? Should he be freaking out on national TV, ratcheting up the public panic level the way Dick 'n' Dubya did with the help of Tom Ridge's colour-coded terror alerts?

Or should he not rather be dealing with what is a top national security priority away from the partisan glare, away from the cameras, away from sniping bullshitters like Dick Cheney?

What is needed now is leadership, and that's precisely what Obama is providing.

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