May 22, 2009 21 Comments ›› Pat Dollard
I’ve been saying for awhile now that current Conservative leadership, from it’s three branches of power: elected officials, talking heads, and financiers, are cowering in fear from diving into the the breach, and fighting the political war we’re in like the political war it is.
Bloomberg is catching my drift.
However, not noted here, is the grim reality that the current conservative leadership faces: we, the grass-roots, are going to take them down before and during our takedown of Obama. We are going to yank them out of their seats of power, and plump our warrior asses in them instead.
To be clear: I am calling for a broad revolution as it is the full and final requirement for the salvation of this country. A peaceful, political, media, and cultural revolution, of course.
Join us in ACTIVE, and let’s git ‘er dun.
May 22 (Bloomberg) — Former Vice President Dick Cheney accomplished something yesterday that Republicans have seldom been able to do: directly challenge President Barack Obama in real time on a major policy issue.
In a nationally televised speech delivered just minutes after Obama had spoken on how to protect the U.S. against terrorism, Cheney defended the decisions he and former President George W. Bush made after the Sept. 11 attacks, including using harsh interrogation methods on terror suspects.
While Republican leaders have largely avoided direct attacks on Obama and focused instead on Democratic congressional leaders, Cheney, 68, has taken the opposite tack. Republican lawmakers and strategists said he was able to raise the intensity of the criticism yesterday because, unlike other party members, he isnâ€™t worried about damaging any future political ambitions by taking on a popular president.
Cheney â€œmight not have the highest favorability ratings, but on this issue, I think heâ€™s viewed by people across the country as being very credible and very knowledgeable,â€ said Senator John Thune, a South Dakota Republican. â€œWhat he says carries a lot of weight.â€
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said Cheneyâ€™s prominence in the debate was actually an advantage for the administration, because it showed disarray within the Republican Party.
Anyone But Cheney
Most Republicans would probably prefer to be represented by a standard-bearer whose name was â€œpicked out of a hatâ€ rather than Cheney, Emanuel said in an interview with a small group of reporters at the White House yesterday.
The picture presented by Obama and Cheneyâ€™s dueling speeches â€œis the future versus the past,â€ he said. The American people â€œhave a larger vision of foreign policy and what the president is doing.â€
In a poll by CNN/Opinion Research Corp. that was released this week, 55 percent of respondents said they had an unfavorable opinion of Cheney, compared with 37 percent who had a favorable view. That was an 8 percentage-point improvement from January, when Bush and Cheney left office with approval ratings near the lowest levels in history. By contrast, Obamaâ€™s approval ratings have been above 60 percent since he took office Jan. 20.
Still, Republican strategist Jim Pinkerton said Cheneyâ€™s popularity â€œdoesnâ€™t really matter,â€ because he â€œis not running for anything.â€ What is important, he said, is that â€œCheney absolutely has the better of the argument.â€
Ask Harry Reid
Pinkerton pointed to the 90-6 vote in the Senate on May 20 when Democrats, including Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, joined Republicans to strip from a spending measure the $80 million Obama requested to fulfill his promise to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by the end of the year.
â€œDonâ€™t take my word for it, take Harry Reidâ€™s word for it,â€ Pinkerton said.
Obama appeared yesterday at the National Archives, the repository of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, to criticize the previous administrationâ€™s policies and build public support for his national-security approach in the wake of reversals such as the Senate vote.
The detention center at Guantanamo, he said, â€œset back the moral authority that is Americaâ€™s strongest currency in the world.â€ The Bush administration â€œwas defending positions that undermined the rule of law,â€ he said. Its decisions on how to handle suspected terrorists were built on â€œad hocâ€ legal measures that were â€œneither effective nor sustainable.â€
â€˜Most Fundamental Valuesâ€™
â€œWe also cannot keep this country safe unless we enlist the power of our most fundamental values,â€ Obama said. â€œTime and again, our values have been our best national security asset.â€
The president also indicated that some prisoners who canâ€™t be tried for legal reasons and are considered too dangerous to let go may be held indefinitely.
He noted that more than 500 Guantanamo detainees had been released under the Bush administration.
Almost as soon as Obama finished his remarks, Cheney began speaking just two miles away, at the American Enterprise Institute, a research organization that generally supported Bushâ€™s policies.
He opened his speech by joking about Obamaâ€™s address starting late. His tone quickly turned more grave as he claimed that interrogation tactics such as waterboarding saved American lives.
â€œWhen an entire population is targeted by a terror network, nothing is more consistent with American values than to stop them,â€ he said. He would make those decisions again â€œwithout hesitation,â€ he said.
â€œOur government prevented attacks and saved lives,â€ Cheney said at AEI, where his wife, Lynne, is a senior fellow. â€œOnly detainees of the highest intelligence value were subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques.â€
Cheney faulted Obama for releasing Justice Department memos that authorized the use of those techniques. Doing so â€œwas flatly contrary to the national security interests of the United States,â€ Cheney said.
John Feehery, a Republican consultant, said Cheneyâ€™s instant response to Obama gave his party one of its rare victories since the Democrats took control of the White House and both chambers of Congress in the November election: the ability to challenge Obamaâ€™s domination of the airwaves and the news cycle.
That success, said Feehery, who served as spokesman for former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, was linked to the decision to engage the Democrats on the theme of national security, a subject where Republicans have historically had an advantage.
â€˜Everything We Couldâ€™
â€œThe percentages are more with Cheney than Obama,â€ Feehery said. â€œWhat Cheney is basically arguing is that we did everything we could to make the country safer, and what Obama is arguing is that we donâ€™t have to do as much to make the country safer.â€
Feehery said Cheney had gotten the better of the president with barbed lines like one in which he said the current administrationâ€™s approach is more geared to receiving â€œapplause in Europeâ€ than protecting Americaâ€™s security.
â€œThereâ€™s no doubt about it, this is the first time theyâ€™ve got him,â€ he said. â€œThis is the first time that Republicans feel like they have some momentum.â€
He said Cheneyâ€™s defense of the Bush policies as necessary to protect the U.S. will seem prescient in the event of a terrorist attack.
â€œIf something goes wrong, people are going to remember what Cheney said,â€ Feehery said.