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Wag the Blog Redux: Obama vs Cheney

Thursday's dueling speeches on national security by President Barack Obama and former vice president Dick Cheney illustrated two sharply contrasting views on how the nation should respond to national security threats in the coming years.

To recap, Obama expressed his belief that the prison at Guantanamo Bay and waterboarding are part of the problem, rather than the solution to the country's long-term national security interests. Cheney, on the other hand, defended the policies of President Bush and said the decision to close Gitmo signals that the Obama administration underestimates the seriousness of terrorist threats.

In our last Wag the Blog, we asked you to assess both arguments -- putting your personal opinions of Obama and Cheney aside -- to declare a winner. Who had the most fact-packed, persuasive argument?

Read what fellow Fixistas had to say below as aggregated by Post Digital politics producer Sarah Lovenheim:


"Obama's approach is based on thoughtful, objective analysis. Cheney's approach is based on fear. Obama considers the US to be part of the international community and strives to participate in the laws of the international community. Cheney considers the US to be above and exempt from any law--both international and US--as if the 9/11 event gives the US a pass to do anything it wants, to anyone, at any time. Obama's approach comes from mindfulness and consideration for humanity. Cheney's approach comes from distrust, hate, and obsessive fear." --peggypollo

"I felt most American today listening to the President's speech about what America should and will stand for and being honest enough not to pretend that he and no one else can be certain we will never have another attack on U.S. soil... I disagree with Dick Cheney mostly on what seems to be that we must fight the war on terrorism alone and that potential allies are rather arrogantly dismissed. That is dangerous and irresponsible speak." --kimh1000

"President Obama is ahead on substance, because he has the rule of law on his side. Mr. Cheney is arguing that the ends justify the means, and that is always a specious argument. The president's '5th category' will, as he predicts, be a matter of much debate. He will be working with Justice and Defense to provide the proper framework for their continued detention.
In my opinion, if these prisoners are allowed to have representation, to know what they are accused of, and have had a chance to make their case, then they are being treated much better than they have in the last several years. I am willing to withhold judgment for a few months to see what the president does in these cases." --mikeinmidland


"I thought Cheney won on points. He made a argument about what would happen to the hard-core detainees if GBay was shutdown. Obama didn't really have a concrete plan." -- rusty6

"I read Cheney's speech and thought it was a strong portrayal of his position. We did what we needed to do. I then read the President's speech...the speech went on and on and on. If it had been half the length I would say the President won hands down. But, being concise is essential in speechifying, and so I must say that Cheney's speech was better." -- myhojda

"Attempting to judge the speeches from a pure substance stand point, I would give the round slightly to former Vice President Cheney. Both individuals made fairly illogical arguments that were light on actual logic and factual statements and heavy on value- laden quotes aimed at evoking visceral reactions.
Therefore, if someone who knew nothing of either candidate went and read the transcripts of the speeches... I would argue that the speech centered on 'protection of country', 'us against them mentality', and 'lofty ideals of elites come second to protecting our children' rhetoric, trump 'for the good of all men', 'making our country safer through encouraging others to like us' and 'don't stoop to their level' rhetoric.
f you have ever been told by someone to take the high road or not to stoop to their level, what do you almost always wind up wanting to do? Not Take the High Road! When looking at the words on the transcripts I give the edge to the former Vice President." -- collins2789

No Clear Winner

"Cheney went out of his way to express scorn for American values and ideals, regarding them as luxuries and inapplicable to dangerous times. He re-asserted that torture saved lives, yet another reiteration of the lie that nobody with access to classified documents has come forward to corroborate. He even descended to equate American idealism with 'political correctness,' playing once again to the base emotions, to fear and hate. He even used the word 'tough' repeatedly, like a schoolyard bully.
Obama appealed to American decency and ideals, to ideas that have no resonance to the hate-crazed and enraged troglodytes who comprise the remaining GOP base. Those of us who believe in America as a land of good people with more at stake than grim eternal persistence were uplifeted. In short, each speech appealed to the audience that was already in tune with it. Obama's appeal to American greatness has no resonance to those who want phones tapped and prisoners tortured, Cheney's appeal to fear and hate has no resonance to people who think we're more than that."--chrisfox8

By Washington Post editors  |  May 24, 2009; 9:55 AM ET
Categories:  Wag The Blog  
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Next: White House Cheat Sheet: Obama the Fundraiser


a lot of them do have large corporate
connections, due to the wars,
dont they? like this story right here:

"Perle's corporate adventures"

Posted by: huj534op | May 30, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

(I took the liberty of editing the curse word out ; )

Posted by: JakeD | May 26, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

No, it was actually Aaron Sorkin who wrote: "You libs have no idea how to defend a nation."

Posted by: JakeD | May 26, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

So let's see:
General David Petraeus
Colin Powell
Robert Gates
several former interrogators in Iraq/Afghanistan/Pakistan

ALL endorse Obama's plan to close Gitmo and end torture.

But Rush and Dick know better right?

What more do you need right-wing nuts?

Posted by: JRM2 | May 26, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Even Bush stopped listening to Cheney. But a mountebank hawking his potions in the public square will always gather an audience, and some rubes will even buy his poison.

Posted by: nodebris | May 26, 2009 1:22 AM | Report abuse

Cheney is right. Obama is wrong. Why take waterboarding off the table? Waterboarding is like a nuclear bomb. You don't want to use it but it's nice to have it around just in case.

Posted by: FRedStatescom | May 26, 2009 1:06 AM | Report abuse

rush limbaugh said: "You libs have no idea how to defend a nation."
so jaked wrote: "You libs have no idea how to defend a nation."

John F. Kennedy wrote: "Hah!"
Harry S Truman wrote: "Hah!"
FDR Wrote: "Hah!"
Woodrow Wilson wrote: "Hah!"
Andy Jackson wrote: [unprintable]
Thomas Jefferson wrote: "Hah!"

Posted by: nodebris | May 26, 2009 12:11 AM | Report abuse

"Ms. Lovenheim misread Chris Fox's letter."

Well, his personal opinions are pretty well expressed in the letter, but the upshot was that the speeches mainly appealed to the people who were already in their respective corners. The thing is that most of our personal opinions of Obama and Cheney are because of their policy positions. Obama never woke up early one morning to mow my lawn and Cheney never blared music at 3 AM.

I do think there is a large group of people who aren't sure of the right way to go. Cheney's fearmongering is a relatively easy sell, but Obama's position is a lot more nuanced. Fortunately, Obama can communicate nuance very well.

Now that I think about it, I still haven't listened to the speeches. I think I'll do that now.

Posted by: DDAWD | May 25, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Lovenheim misread Chris Fox's letter.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | May 25, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Bottom Line:
A.Q. has a more consistent and business like approach to fatwah.. than the West has to combating it.

Posted by: newbeeboy | May 25, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

F Blade..
meant the SCOTUS ran him out of contention..

Posted by: newbeeboy | May 25, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse


Some quotes:
From 2003 onward, people like Bellinger and Goldsmith were fighting against legal judgments that allowed enhanced interrogation techniques. By 2006, Rice and Hadley brought Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in from a secret foreign prison to regularize detainee procedures. In 2007, Rice refused to support an executive order reviving the interrogation program. Throughout the second Bush term, officials were trying to close Guantánamo, pleading with foreign governments to take some prisoners, begging senators to allow the transfer of prisoners onto American soil. (It didn’t occur to them that they could announce the closure of Gitmo first, then figure out what to do with prisoners.)

Cheney and Obama might pretend otherwise, but it wasn’t the Obama administration that halted the practice of waterboarding. It was a succession of C.I.A. directors starting in March 2003, even before a devastating report by the C.I.A. inspector general in 2004.

When Cheney lambastes the change in security policy, he’s not really attacking the Obama administration. He’s attacking the Bush administration. In his speech on Thursday, he repeated in public a lot of the same arguments he had been making within the Bush White House as the policy decisions went more and more the other way.

The inauguration of Barack Obama has simply not marked a dramatic shift in the substance of American anti-terror policy.
Brooks explains his position rather well, I think.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | May 25, 2009 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Umn, this Obama policy of being really nice and sweet with our foes, is really paying off. What will he do about NK? Will it be like last time and threaten NK will grave consquences if they laucnh that satelite. Surely, that UN Resolution must have scared the hell out of them. My guess is we will play right into their hands by offering them more goodies if they just come back to the bargaining table. Its time get real. Diplomacy does not work with this criminal regime. At the very least we need to start shooting down their misssles. Weakness only provokes more aggression. Libs, for God sakes, read a little history before its to late.

Posted by: vbhoomes | May 25, 2009 8:14 AM | Report abuse

wow, I never expected Chris Fox to win the no clear winner category.

Posted by: DDAWD | May 25, 2009 5:26 AM | Report abuse

It is disgusting and disturbing that the media insists on putting our President with the same headlines as Cheney.
One is an honest, honorable, sincere man while the other is evil, dishonorable and has committed many crimes against us and our country.
No one cares or respects what Cheney has to say. He was part of a failed administration which almost destroyed our country. As far as security. with his administrations actions there have been many more terrorists and terrorists organizations created. Hate, anger, distrust have grown to a dangerous level.
And his party is doing everything they can to further destroy our country and us.

Posted by: kathlenec | May 24, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

You are going to wait (especially since Obama granted indemnity to CIA agents / doctors). Also, every freaking terrorist did NOT know they should practice staying awake for a couple days or learn what a harmless caterpillar feels like. You libs have no idea how to defend a nation.

Posted by: JakeD | May 24, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Can government protect us without Al-Qaeda knowing how? The way Bush and Chenney provided some safety to this land was known to every freaking terrorirst in the world. We are still draging our feet on Gitmo, while we still need to investigate and know, why Bush and Chenney presented false information about Iraq and we attacked them. That's O.K. smoke about Gitmo is pretty thin and breathable to Obama, but Chenney wont be able to throw a smoke bomb on Iraq questions and illegal millitary and federal contracts. We can wait!!! The longer he is in public, better for people to see justice brought to him, his family and Bush and his family.

Posted by: BOBSTERII | May 24, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

@newbee - It was term limits, not providence.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | May 24, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Jake.. we can be grateful that providence ran Al Gore out of office..

Posted by: newbeeboy | May 24, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Chances are that we are going to get hit again under the Democrats as they dismantle the security system that has kept America safe for all these years.

Don't count on the REAL terrorists being like the stupid and unprofessional NY Four Obama Voter ACORN types who were recently arrested. Those were clowns.

The pros won't be caught before its too late due to the Democrat position of being soft on terrorism. The Democrats are far more interested in coddling terrorists than protecting America and everyone knows it.

Posted by: Democrat_Culture_of_Corruption | May 24, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

JakeD: Actually if Cheney gets this wrong, Americans will be killed. Oh...wait a minute, I guess they were, i.e. 4000 in a pointless war not to mention the 2000 on 9/11. You think Bush/Cheney weren't responsible for that? Ask the head of counter-terrorism at the time. Another thought: if presidents are given a free pass for anything that happens in their first eight months in office, that means republicans need to STFU about Obama's performance for the next four months. However, that would mean they weren't hypocrites.

Posted by: daddyoyo | May 24, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I made a reference earlier to Dick Cheney being like Castor oil.Upon reflection of my comments,I thought it wise to consult the dictionary and obtain a definition of 'Castor oil',and,hence,Cheney.Here it is: 'a colorless to pale yellow,viscid liquid obtained from the castor bean(imagine Ronald Reagan as the castor bean);used as a lubricant,cathartic(bowel-evacuating),etc.'
I am proud of myself for making such an appropriate analogy.It feels good to be right .

Posted by: klowry57 | May 24, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I just thought of something else.In an unusual but necessary mix of Dick Cheney and Groucho Marx references,if Dick Cheney is the 800 lb. elephant in the room...and he is...doesn't that still make him totally 'irrelephant'?
Point given.Laugh more,America.

Posted by: klowry57 | May 24, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Dick Cheney.I have enjoyed obsessing about his existence and eventual demise.He has upset me like few politicians have the skill to do.He is like Castor oil: you take it because someone says it will make you feel better.Then,you abhor the taste and you just feel worse than before.You realize that you have made a mistake.Yet,four hours later,someone says it's time for your Castor oil again.Ugh.
Thank God we've moved beyond Castor oil and thank God that a paradigmatic and generational shift has occurred in America.It gives us the inner peace to know that the Dick Cheneys of this political world are destined to that lonely place in the dusty and dark archives of world history.

Posted by: klowry57 | May 24, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse


Because, if Obama gets this wrong, Americans will be killed. The "debate" is just getting started, honey.

Posted by: JakeD | May 24, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Why is anyone allowing this to turn into a debate? It's over, it's done and we are moving forward. Past experiences provide just that - experience - so we can make sound decisions in the future. President Obama would have his administration perform differently than the past administration. No news there! It is why he won.

Posted by: lindaj4 | May 24, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse


Did you call Al Gore attacking President Bush (especially on "global warming") the same thing?

Posted by: JakeD | May 24, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

I still call this whole scenario..
Rove v. World.

Posted by: newbeeboy | May 24, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

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