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Who's Really Keeping America Safe?

By Garance Franke-Ruta
Reactions to the dueling speeches by President Obama and former vice president Dick Cheney are flowing fast and furious. Two of the first (we'll add more as the day progresses):

William Kristol, The Weekly Standard Blog: "Obama's is the speech of a young senator who was once a part-time law professor--platitudinous and preachy, vague and pseudo-thoughtful in an abstract kind of way. This sentence was revealing: 'On the other hand, I recently opposed the release of certain photographs that were taken of detainees by U.S. personnel between 2002 and 2004.' 'Opposed the release'? Doesn't he mean 'decided not to permit the release'? He's president. He's not just a guy participating in a debate. But he's more comfortable as a debater, not as someone who takes responsibility for decisions.

"Cheney's is the speech of a grownup, of a chief executive, of a statesman. He's sober, realistic and concrete, stands up for his country and its public officials, and has an acute awareness of the consequences of the choices one makes as a public official and a willingness to take responsibility for those choices."

Josh Marshall, TPM: "11:20 AM ... Cheney starts things off classy with some snide comments about Obama's speech length....

11:28 AM ... Cheney now seems to be arguing he was psychologically traumatized by the experience of watching the 9/11 attacks like the rest of us did.

11:30 AM ... Shorter Cheney: If you don't agree with my torture policies, you don't take 9/11 seriously....

11:33 AM ... In many ways, it's obvious. But listening to Cheney, you get such a rich sense of the difference between these two men. Cheney, grizzly, paranoid and feeling and more than anything harshly partisan.

11:39 AM ... Calling torture 'torture' is libel.

11:42 AM ... I think the truest read on Cheney is his cutting and snide anger contrasted with his history of personal cowardice, ducking service in the Vietnam war he himself vociferously supported. Fear and anger are his defining emotions.

11:45 AM ... Wondering how long it took Bill Kristol to write this speech."

By Web Politics Editor  |  May 21, 2009; 12:40 PM ET
Categories:  The Debate Rages On...  
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Cheney's asking for it. He's lucky not to be incarcerated. If can't figure that out and shut the *@%#! up, it will be a fitting end to his thieving murdering life when he lands himself in prison.

Posted by: rooster54 | May 25, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it Bill Kristol's job to say anything that will get him noticed and somehow make him relevant to a serious conversation about something he was never party to?

How does Bill Kristol have an opinion that is relevant here? He offers nothing but a "yes man" endorsement to bad policy that is no longer serving US.

JakeD, I love you man, but this isn't about Obama. This is about the debatable legal tactics of the last admin.

So what IS the current executive's best legal choice to resolve Guantanamo?

Once again there is a lot of smoke, but no fire hitting the target from the right.

Posted by: JohnQuimby | May 24, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

If not Obama, who else has the: knowledge, intellignece, etc, and the capacity to respond immediately to an attack?

Until the next election, the question is moot. Or at least that's what I think. Yet, I stand corrected!

Posted by: Victoria5 | May 22, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

It's not a duel when Cheney's had his scattergun taken away.

Posted by: gwcox2 | May 22, 2009 12:38 AM | Report abuse

traveller11 writes
"It's all pretty simple:
Cheney => Churchill
Obama => Chamberlin

Review your history and tell me, when the pollsters are not around and you do not have to worry about being politically correct, whose approach do you really think will protect this country?"

Cute, but wrong. Do some research into Churchill's position on torture. You might be surprised at what you find.

Your second error is in claiming the President's approach is tantamount to the 'appeasement' argument made by Chamberlin. It is not - the recent decision to send more troops to Afghanistan seems like the opposite of appeasement, to me.

Posted by: bsimon1 | May 21, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

In this case, "opposed the release" is correct, because the Supreme Court will have the final say, and the Justice Dept. (following Obama's revised directive to appeal the lower court order to release), standing in the shoes of Mr. Obama, will just be a player, not a decider, on the issue. The Court may ultimately take the Prez off the hook, by affirming the order to release, and then the Prez won't have any grounds for further opposition.

Posted by: boesc | May 21, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Seriously? comparing Cheney with Churchill? and then the person tells us to read history?
Well let me tell you a fact about Churchill, HE OPPOSED TORTURE and the use of force against innocent people. He was a fair person even during war. He is no way comparable to Chaney, who has become a war monger due to his failures as VP and keeping America safe on 9/11. After all it happened on his watch.

Posted by: Andres2 | May 21, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

TO: OIFVet06:

Melodrama in the defense of liberty is no vice.

Is anything in THIS article familiar to you?

Posted by: scrivener50 | May 21, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Bill Kristol forgets that release of those photographs is before the courts, and all Pres. Obama can do is indeed oppose it.

The less said about Mr. Kristol's phrase " an abstract sort of way" the better

Posted by: ruthalfred5 | May 21, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

scrivener50 - Fomenting an already incipient coup d’état? Military-security-intel complex? Torture Matrix? So, are you writing a made-for-grade school documentary? Aren't you being a little melodramatic here? You forgot the black helicopters and the secret Republican training camps on the outskirts of Las Vegas. Have to keep the conspiracy alive…

Posted by: OIFVet06 | May 21, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if Cheney even understands the concept of morality? He seems so confused about right and wrong that there's a real possibility this guy is a full blown sociopath.

Posted by: inewsmaster | May 21, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

It's all pretty simple:

Cheney => Churchill

Obama => Chamberlin

Review your history and tell me, when the pollsters are not around and you do not have to worry about being politically correct, whose approach do you really think will protect this country?

Posted by: traveler11 | May 21, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Is anyone “denying” that Obama's policies have placed the nation in greater peril? Is there anybody who would say Obama’s policies have actually made the nation safer?

Posted by: OIFVet06 | May 21, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I will note that Garance Franke-Ruta also uses the capitalized "President" but NOT "Vice President". Probably more neutral to use the NYT's "Mr." all the time.

Posted by: JakeD | May 21, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse


I am not the one talking about a "dueling" Vice President!

Posted by: JakeD | May 21, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse


Do polls really matter if Cheney's intent is to foment a coup d'etat?

The key message implanted by Cheney's speech was repetition of the mantra that Obama's policies have made the nation "less safe."

By painting Obama as what zealots might interpret as a "clear and present danger" to the nation's safety, is Cheney laying an extra-legal foundation for a coup -- with his "leave-behinds" in the "military-security-intel complex" at the vanguard?

The "torture matrix" activated by Bush-Cheney & Co. STILL PERSISTS in powerful quarters of the bureaucracy:

OR (if link is corrupted / disabled):

Posted by: scrivener50 | May 21, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Obama effectively conceded the debate by "punting" on his 5th category of detainees -- at least he finally realizes that some of them can NEVER be released -- whether the libs want to admit it yet, or not, the GOP won this round.

Posted by: JakeD | May 21, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Not Obama.

Posted by: JakeD | May 21, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

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