Sunday night on 60 Minutes Steve Kroft sat steely-eyed across from president Obama, watching him respond to a question regarding Vice President Cheney's recent opinion about the effects of closing Gitmo. He appeared almost shocked to hear Obama gladly answer the criticism by launching into a trashing of the Bush administration's anti-terror policies, saying they had not made America safer.
Kroft didn't follow up but bloggers certainly can, even if ignored. So let's get to the ranting.
Saying the previous administration has made America less safe is not only an idiotic statement unsupported by facts but it's insulting. Obama has no business treating Cheney with anything less than the respect he's earned for his service to the country for five decades.
Think about it--before Obama was a pot smoking Marxist-friendly undergrad at Occidental College Richard B. Cheney was already serving America.
He was there when Black September, a proxy group for Yasser Arafat, killed Israeli athletes in Munich in 1972. Obama was 11. Dick Cheney was there during the heyday of the skyjacking phenomenon, which terrorized and killed many innocents.
He was around during the heyday of the Baader-Meinhof Gang and Abu Nidal Organization and he was there when Hizballah murdered our Marines in Beirut or when Leon Klinghoffer was pushed off a cruise ship in his wheelchair, all without the rage created by Gitmo detainees or naked pyramids at Abu Ghraib (which was still an Iraqi torture facility at the time).
Obama was "hiding in the library" at Columbia University (when he wasn't attending subversive rallies) in 1982 when an Iraqi-sponsored terror group called May 15th Organization used a Ramzi Yousef-like micro seat bomb to attack a Pan Am 747 on it's way to Obama's home state of Hawaii. A Japanese teenager was killed in the process. Numerous other aircraft had been fitted with similar such bombs but were thankfully discovered before detonation. This was well before operation Bojinka came along and had its origins in Saddam's Iraq. Cheney was there, in Congress.
When US Navy diver Robert Stetham was murdered and thrown onto the tarmac of Beirut International Airport in 1985 by Hizballah thugs--killed for being a member of the US military--Cheney was debating policy in Congress while Obama was community organizing.
When our concern for the Arab street was so great during the Gulf War that Israel was forced to sit back and take incoming Iraqi Scud missiles without responding, Cheney was the civilian in charge of the military while Obama was presumably defending the Gulf War with fellow law students, his family and educational concerns apparently preventing him from signing up.
Yep, ole dead eye Dick was SecDef when Saddam Hussein said that although Iraq couldn't harm America, individual Arabs certainly could. And they certainly did, repeatedly from 1993 right up through 9/11.
To most people the gradual ramping up of terrorist attacks culminating in 9/11 did not occur because the US was evil but because the terrorists were evil, and were willing to kill civilians for their own scumbag causes (like the destruction of a democratic state in the Middle East or their own world hegemony). After 9/11 Bush/Cheney made the decision to stop swatting those flies and we suffered no further domestic attacks.
Obama seems oblivious to history, preferring to ridicule our counter-terror policy to a bumper sticker, perhaps even inadvertently furthering enemy propaganda about us deserving our own attacks, just as his Pastor used to scream from the pulpit. None of this means Cheney was right, only that he deserves respect for his views in trying to protect America based on all those experiences Obama doesn't have.
True, in a perfect world VP's should probably keep their traps shut to the media but sitting presidents have even less business joining that fray. Bush, thought to be the village idiot by most on the left, simply ignored Gore's unhinged rantings and looked forward, winning reelection.
Obama could have done likewise and looked quite statesman-like. After all, it was only a few short weeks ago he promised to look forward. Apparently the temptation to use Cheney's words to score cheap partisan political points is part of his new creepy domestic agenda, though. Big sigh.
Hopefully he hasn't bought too deeply into the nutbar blame-America wing of his own party to prevent him from treating this problem with the seriousness it deserves and to treat past presidents and vice-presidents with the respect they deserve for fighting the good fight. It'll take a bit more convincing to believe at this point.