May 24, 2009

A great American versus an amiable con-man...

I liked this piece by Michael Goodwin, Obama gets schooled on terror: Cheney bests him in speech duel — by sticking to the facts:

* NOTE on the caricature below. It's by cartoonist F. T. Rea. (With permission.) I think it's cool—I LIKE tough old white guys who haven't succumbed to lefty nihilism and relativism. Possibly I'm not on quite the same, er, philosophical wavelength as Mr Rea, but hey, great art transcends partisan politics!  ;-)

It was a tale of two speeches. One was clear, direct and powerful. Barack Obama gave the other speech.

It would have been heresy to write those words any other time, so commanding has President Obama been with the spoken word. [Not if you prefer honesty and straight talk.] But the real Mission Impossible was to imagine that wheezy old Dick Cheney would be the speaker to best Obama. [Character and honesty trump all. TRUTH trumps all. And real Americans HONOR those who have grown old and wise in the service of their country.]

Yet that happened last week, and I predict it won't be a fluke. From here on out, results will increasingly trump the sensation of Obama's high-toned lectures every time.

Especially if they are as dreary as last Thursday's, which was so disingenuous and self-reverential as to be one of the low moments of his presidency. Besides not being able to clearly lay out his plan for Guantanamo detainees, Obama never mentioned what will happen to others we capture in Iraq and Afghanistan. [Good question!] Perhaps we will take no more prisoners? [We will continue to take prisoners—we're the good guys. But it would be perfectly legal and reasonable to just shoot them—they torture and kill any Americans they capture. Which never bothers the fake-liberals who pretend to "care" about prisoners.]

Meanwhile, the occasion showed that Cheney, the darkest of dark horses, is emerging as a fact checker in exile. With Democrats holding all Washington power, the ex-veep's willingness to challenge Obama's narrative of the war on terror is a poor substitute for an institutional check-and-balance, but it's all we have. [Cheney's always been the same guy. It's only those who believe the lies of our lying press who are surprised by his vigourous defense of our country in time of war.]

What I love about Dick Cheney is that he doesn't buy into the idea that leftists get to set the terms of the debate. That we have to be mealy-mouthed about our patriotism and our determination to destroy terrorist animals. He doesn't CARE if lefty journalists call him a "hate-monger." Bless the man.

In that sense, Cheney's ability to outduel Obama could mark a turning point in the debate on this and other critical issues. His TKO over the President recalls the three most important things in real estate: Location, location, location. The key to Cheney's powerful performance: Facts, facts, facts.

Cheney, whose wife jokes that calling him Darth Vader "humanizes" him, coughed his way through a 40-minute defense of the Bush administration's anti-terror strategy. He glossed over huge lapses, such as the flawed intelligence leading to the invasion of Iraq, [WRONG. That was the SAME intelligence EVERYBODY had, including Dem leaders in Congress. We learned through the Duelfer Report that Saddam's own generals thought the WMD's were there! Saddam's guys were more honest than our "Democrats," who now claim "Bush lied" for believing exactly what they believed and said in 2002.] but used to great effect the most compelling fact - no successful attacks on America since 9/11...
In a contrast-and-compare sequence, he challenged Obama's approach, including the release of the so-called torture memos and talk of prosecuting Bush officials.

"To the very end of our administration, we kept Al Qaeda terrorists busy with other problems," Cheney said. "We focused on getting their secrets, instead of sharing ours with them. And on our watch, they never hit this country again. After the most lethal and devastating terrorist attack ever, seven and a half years without a repeat is not a record to be rebuked and scorned, much less criminalized. It is a record to be continued until the danger has passed." [Amen, brother Richard. And a lot of the credit goes to you.]

For his part, Obama sounded like a put-upon plaintiff arguing a Supreme Court case. The heavy symbolism of his setting, the National Archives in front of an original copy of the Constitution, added to the worrisome impression he is lost in the legal and political weeds. [Not to mention that he's a pygmy compared to that setting.]

Ironically, his criticism that Bush took his eye off the ball to invade Iraq [WRONG of course. Iraq is precisely WHY they haven't attacked us again. It was what the terrorists hate and fear most—democracy and freedom planted right smack-dab in their heart of darkness. If Dems REALLY want peace they should promise that America will do the same thing again if we are attacked. Then we WON'T be attacked.] has a corollary in Obama's fixation on interrogation techniques. He is missing the larger point

[PS: Don't tell anyone, but the real reasons I advised George and Dick and Tony to invade Iraq are here.]

After conceding terrorism presents unique challenges, Obama argued "the decisions that were made over the last eight years established an ad hoc legal approach for fighting terrorism that was neither effective nor sustainable - a framework that failed to rely on our legal traditions and time-tested institutions; that failed to use our values as a compass." [We have no "time-tested institutions" for this new situation. All we have is the template Bush has created—which Obam is, in fact, following closely!]

Whoa Nellie - are the terrorists going to hit us again or not? That's what people want to know, not whether a bunch of lawyers think we're being too tough on them.

Unfortunately, Obama was less than reassuring, saying: "Neither I nor anyone else standing here today can say that there will not be another terrorist attack that takes American lives." [What a PASSIVE thing to say. Compare with JFK promising to "pay any price" to defend freedom. Or Bush promising to "smoke 'em out."]

That's a fact, of course, but it's also a fact that he's been warned his policies will make it more likely we will be hit again. It's a warning he dismisses at America's peril.

I actually think the Mr Cheney's arguments are too narrowly focused, concentrating on just the defense of the USA. The poor folk in various Third World countries are a thousand times more at risk than we are. I'd suggest this as a better context for our debates:

America has, reluctantly, and because no one else will do it, become almost the only "cop on the beat" in the rough gang-ridden neighborhood that is our planet. A neighborhood where one hears screams coming out of buildings at night, and bodies are found on the sidewalks in the morning. This cop sometimes roughs-up suspicious characters, and it may be right to criticize him. BUT, if he fails, then criminal gangs take over, and the little people's sufferings will be extreme.

Therefore, the starting point for criticism is to be in sympathy with the cop and his extremely difficult task. And to be in solidarity with the common citizens who are going to be crushed if hoodlums can take over the streets. One should start by imagining what it must be like to try to preserve the rule of law among vicious criminals. It is hard, dangerous and thankless. And then imagine what it must be like to try to raise an child to be honest and moral in a place where drug-dealers and gangsters strut and kill people, and seem more successful than those who obey the law.
Posted by John Weidner at May 24, 2009 6:07 PM
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