May 30, 2009

Cheney on the high ground....

Jonah Goldberg: Cheney an Unlikely Beacon for Conservatives....

...It's a lovely thing when the conventional wisdom proves to be so spectacularly wrong. The entire Democratic party, not to mention the media establishment, simply took as a given that suave, charming, effulgent, numinous president Barack Obama would mop the floor with grumpy, truculent, sardonic former vice-president Dick Cheney. And yet, on almost every issue he has championed since he left office, Cheney has won the debate or at least put the White House on the defensive. From the closing of Gitmo and the placement of terrorists in domestic prisons, to the release of the torture memos and the aborted release of prisoner-abuse photos, Cheney holds the higher ground politically, or in the polls, or both.

Many liberals who take it on faith that Cheney represents all that is evil, cruel, and unhip about the Republican party, not to mention carbon-based life forms, are loath to give him even an ounce of credit for his success. That Obama is backpedaling or off-balance on so many fronts, they say, is at best circumstantial evidence that Cheney is having any effect. Well, you know, Thoreau was right: "Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk." The trout in Obama's milk is the trout fisherman from Casper, Wyo.....

There are profound lessons to be learned here. An easy one is that the Bush policies Democrats relentlessly demonized were hardly as extreme, politically or morally, as they alleged. If Bush's anti-terror policies were half as bad as Obama & Co. claimed, the American people and Congress would reject them all wholesale, and Cheney's arguments would sound like the ravings of a madman. That hasn't happened.

But the more important lesson, at least for conservatives and Republicans, is that arguments matter. If personalities and politics alone drove the issues, then of course flannel Cheney would lose against silky Obama. But it turns out that substance is a good counterpunch to style.

"Evil, cruel, and unhip Republican"—hey wait, that's me! Cool. No wonder I like the guy. Thank you, Mr Cheney, for expressing what I feel!

(The picture is of Vice-President Cheney at the American Enterprise Institute's World Forum, in 2004. Originally posted here.)

Posted by John Weidner at May 30, 2009 3:22 PM
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