Friday, May 22, 2009

Cheney Spoke, but Obama's Audience Listened

Just who was Dick Cheney delivering his speech to?

People were watching the TV screen intently. The saw a man telling the nation his intentions on national security. He did it with aplomb, confidence and determination. The TV audience was parsing every word, every syllable. It was as if they were calculating the words, giving them numerical ratings and hoping that the tally was not too high. But that was to be expected with this audience. They were, after all, the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, a right-wing think tank. What wasn't to be expected was that they were calculating the words of President Barack Obama before listening (one hopes as attentively) to the man they actually paid to hear and see: former Vice-President Dick Cheney.
Even though they were pre-disposed to hear Cheney (one supposes, since he seldom gives orations to the public and he has, in these last weeks been as ubiquitous on the airwaves to the American public as ketchup is to Sean Hannity's hamburger), there was no doubt that they wanted to hear Obama's speech in order to bolster the upcoming words of Cheney.

Neither men disappointed them: Obama surprised and Cheney stayed the course.

From Washington Post, Scott Wilson:

Speaking moments after Obama finished, Cheney delivered the most pointed rejoinder of his weeks-long media campaign in defense of the Bush administration's national security record, including its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and its adoption of harsh interrogation tactics and detention policies that have been widely criticized.

He said the "great dividing line in our current debate over national security" is whether that "comprehensive strategy has worked and therefore needs to be continued as vigilantly as ever, or whether you can look at the same set of facts and conclude that 9/11 was a one-off event, coordinated, devastating, but also unique and not sufficient to justify a sustained wartime effort."

From the clips on the regular broadcast news channels, Cheney was unusually jovial when he made a speech that restated his dire warnings of being attacked while under the watch of President Obama. So why was he smiling so much? Who knows. Maybe he was glad to feel the freedom of saying what he really wanted to say one was listening. The world had heard versions of his views ad nauseum in the last weeks. If anyone was listening, they were trying to compare the astute Obama to the sly and snide Dick Cheney.

From The Swamp (Chicago Tribune) Mark Silva:

Most Americans surveyed -- 55 percent -- hold an unfavorable view of the former vice president, with only 37 percent viewing him kindly, a CNN Opinion Research Corp. poll finds. Which is to say he's only slightly less unpopular than he was last summer.


The responsibilities we carried belong to others now. And though I’m not here to speak for George W. Bush, I am certain that no one wishes the current administration more success in defending the country than we do.
HUH? WTF?! He didn't say that! "Good wishes" to Obama after he's gone on record as saying that Rush Limbaugh would be better for the Republican Party than Colin Powell? By extension, Cheney wants Obama "to fail." Must be the record for the most disingenuous comment of the decade.

Our government prevented attacks and saved lives through the Terrorist Surveillance Program, which let us intercept calls and track contacts between al-Qaeda operatives and persons inside the United States. The program was top secret, and for good reason, until the editors of the New York Times got it and put it on the front page. After 9/11, the Times had spent months publishing the pictures and the stories of everyone killed by al-Qaeda on 9/11. Now here was that same newspaper publishing secrets in a way that could only help al-Qaeda. It impressed the Pulitzer committee, but it damn sure didn’t serve the interests of our country, or the safety of our people.

Trying to kill two birds with one stone: Obama and the New York Times. Granted, they're both enemies of Cheney's Radical Right, but isn't it a bit idiotic to take on both at the same time?

Releasing the interrogation memos was flatly contrary to the national security interest of the United States. The harm done only begins with top secret information now in the hands of the terrorists, who have just received a lengthy insert for their training manual. Across the world, governments that have helped us capture terrorists will fear that sensitive joint operations will be compromised.
Ah, which governments across the world? Cheney's trademark sneer alone has cost us dozens of alliances. "Sensitive joint operations"? That can be interpreted several ways. Iran-Contra was also a "sensitive joint operation."

After his speech, I wonder if they gave Cheney a standing ovation?

I wonder if they noticed that he had stopped speaking at all.