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Thursday, October 22, 2009

The White House Responds to Cheney

Yesterday evening, Dick Cheney made a speech in which he blistered the administration on a range of foreign policy issues from Afghanistan, missile defense, Iran, and enhanced interrogations. The critique that's gotten the most coverage was Cheney's assertion that the Obama administration has been following the recommendations of the Bush administration all while Rahm Emanuel claimed that the Bush administration didn't leave them with a plan. White House Press Secretary responded when asked about this and here's what he said.

What Vice President Cheney calls dithering, President Obama calls his solemn responsibility to the men and women in uniform," Gibbs said Thursday. "I think we've all seen what happens when somebody doesn't take that responsibility seriously

I think it's pretty safe to say that the vice president was for seven years not focused on Afghanistan," Gibbs said. "Even more curious given the fact that an increase in troops sat on desks in this White House, including the vice president's, for more than eight months

The problem here is two fold. Attacking the Bush administration may contribute to souring the legacy of the Bush administration but it does nothing to settle the criticism that Cheney made. There's no doubt that while the Bush administration figured out Iraq in the end they never finally did figure out Afghanistan. That doesn't change the way that President Obama has behaved in Afghanistan. I agree that the Bush administration could have and should have done a better job in Afghanistan but that won't excuse the current president if we lose there. It certainly won't change the fact that we lose if we lose.

Everyone understands that decisions of war are monumental however this decision hasn't been two, three, or even six weeks in the making but seven months in the making. While it's a solemn decision that must be done with the utmost of care, the president announced a new strategy in March, not six weeks ago. We all know this and his announcement is on You tube and a matter of public record.

This is where the criticism is from. The administration can attack Cheney all they want. That won't change the fact that seven months ago President Obama announced a new strategy. His general wants more troops and now President Obama refuses to make a decision. That isn't simply something that Dick Cheney is saying. That's becoming something that everyone from all sides of the political aisle.

Of course, politically, by responding so directly, they give more life to the story. The problem there is that even if you were to marginalize and bloody Cheney, he is not going to run for office again. Even if the administration bloodies Cheney, they have raised his criticism and allowed the media to discuss and analyze them for several more days. They haven't dealt with the substance of Cheney's criticism and so the criticism is out there with no response.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

With the republicans securely in the pockets of big insurance, it's gonna be hard to reduce the cost of health care. Obama's health cae bill is a good start, but open competition can only be brought about with the public option. The public option should force down prices since big inurance is making billions by denying health care to their long time customers once these customers get sick.