Dick Cheney Isn’t Making Sense

December 30, 2009 | Last updated: July 31, 2020

One of the problems with Politico’s connection to former Vice President Dick Cheney is that the paper seems to get quotes from the former vice president without the opportunity to ask follow-up questions. To wit, here’s his timely attack on the president’s response to the botched Christmas terrorist attack.

We are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren’t, it makes us less safe. 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.

There are a number of ways to go after Obama, but this one doesn’t really make any sense. As Cheney must know, having been near the Republican Party’s helm during the 2002 and 2004 elections, it’s always in the president’s political interest to hype the threat posed by foreign or domestic enemies. For example, we now know that the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush upped the “color code” threat level at multiple points during the 2004 presidential campaign, and that it weakened John Kerry’s bid. And one of the most notorious quotes from Obama’s White House was Rahm Emanuel’s 2008 comment that “you never let a crisis go to waste.” Politically, it would be in Obama’s interest to make lots of statements about an eternal war on terror, then pivot and use his capital on “social transformation.”

I’m not saying the administration’s message problem here (and we’re talking about message, since Cheney seems most concerned that Obama doesn’t talk about “war” enough) is a brilliant strategy. Starting with the party’s failure to groom credible opposites to Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) and Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), continuing with the decision to let Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) keep his Homeland Security chairmanship, and compounding with DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano’s spin, the administration’s rhetoric has been doomed from the start. The idea that Obama doesn’t care about terrorism because he’s too interested in social democracy, however, is equal parts illogical and nonsensical.