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Cheney Makes an Easy Target

Former vice president Dick Cheney didn't hold back on Sunday when asked what he thought of President Obama. Among other things, he accused Obama (without providing any supporting evidence) of making Americans less safe.

But did Cheney realize how much relish the White House would take in casting him as the face of the opposition?

Over the last several weeks, the White House has been delighted by right-wing talk show giant Rush Limbaugh's emergence as the unofficial spokesman for the Republican Party.

But, heck, Dick Cheney makes Rush Limbaugh look popular, not to mention easygoing.

Here's Press Secretary Robert Gibbs at yesterday's press briefing, responding to a question about Cheney's comments:

Gibbs; "Well, I guess Rush Limbaugh was busy -- (laughter) -- so they trotted out the next most popular member of the Republican cabal. (Laughter.)

"I would say that the President has made quite clear that keeping the American people safe and secure is the job -- is the most serious job that he has each and every day."

Gibbs then offered his own pointed critique of Cheney's tenure: "I think the President saw over the past seven-plus years the delay in bringing the very people to justice that committed terrorist acts on this soil and on foreign soil...I think the American people will in this administration see those actors brought to the swift and certain justice that was not brought to them in the previous administration."

As for Cheney's thoughts on domestic policy, Gibbs said, "I think there are -- I think not taking economic advice from Dick Cheney would be maybe the best possible outcome of yesterday's interview."

Gibbs's comments seemed to take aback CBS White House correspondent Chip Reid, who returned to the subject later in the briefing:

Reid: "And could I ask you, when you referred to the former Vice President, that was a really hard-hitting, kind of a sarcastic response you had. This is a former Vice President of the United States. Is that -- is that the attitude? Is that the sanctioned tone for the former Vice President of the United States, from this White House?"

Gibbs replied: "Sometimes I ask for forgiveness rather than for permission, Chip. But no, I hope my sarcasm didn't mask the seriousness of the answer...-- that for seven-plus years the very perpetrators that the Vice President says he's concerned about weren't brought to justice."

Scott Wilson writes in The Washington Post: "Gibbs's comments reflected the administration's pique over Cheney's wide-ranging remarks made Sunday on CNN, his first televised interview since leaving office. The former vice president, deeply unpopular in opinion polls, accused the young administration of using the abysmal economy to push through a broad and liberal expansion of government and strongly defended Bush-era policies at home and abroad."

As for the interview that sparked the back-and-forth, Andrew Sullivan blogs for the Atlantic on CNN host John King's failure to ask Cheney about the newly-leaked International Red Cross report that unequivocally calls the treatment of terror suspects by Cheney and Bush torture. Sullivan concludes that "telling the truth - and confronting the powerful with it - ruins the aura of objectivity; and offends sources whom one needs for future scoops. It makes an interview unpleasant and confrontational, when both Cheney and King go out of their way to signal their familiarity and almost friendship with one another. King did ask some tough questions in this interview, but not the question that every historian will want to ask and that Cheney didn't want to answer."

And Arianna Huffington writes on her blog: "Each time King let Cheney get away with spouting gross inaccuracies and revisionist history, I kept thinking how different things would have been had [Comedy Central's Jon] Stewart been asking the questions. Stewart without the comedy and without the outrage -- just armed with the facts and the willingness to ask tough questions."

By Dan Froomkin  |  March 17, 2009; 11:34 AM ET
Categories:  Looking Backward  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Quick Takes
Next: Obama's Vindictiveness Gap


Too Bad it wasn't Jon Stewart doing the interview....I don't comprehend what has happened to the main-stream media...for the most part, the only function they serve is to allow people like Cheney to spout garbage, nonsense and lies without so much as a raised eyebrow or a much deserved challenge...they're not real interviews...they could be best described as "garbage-mercials"

Posted by: constwkr | March 17, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

There is a lack of decorum in the Press Secretary criticizing the former Vice President, but it is merely a response to the utter lack of decorum which the former Vice President is showing when he goes on talk shows and attacks the current administration. If Cheney wants to hold this debate in public then so be it.

I would love to see Jon Stewart recruited to a serious news show. He performs research before meeting guests, he is very well informed, and he is very intelligent. I think he would be a more fitting successor to Tim Russert. It would be interesting to see if he could rein in his sarcasm and crass humor enough to thrive in that sort of job.

Posted by: fletc3her | March 17, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

I didn't hear much in the way of decorum from Cheney during his garbage-mercial...and I don't find any comments made by Gibbs as being inappropriate...if anything he wasn't blunt enough...someone needs to have the courage to stand up and tell Cheney and Rush to sit down and shut the h*** up...and that they are the last people on the planet who should be giving anyone advice or criticizing the new Administration...Cheney and people who talk and think like Rush created this mess...if they had the answers...they wouldn't have left the mess behind.

Posted by: constwkr | March 17, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

How pathetic is the MSM that Huffington can point only to a comedian when searching for someone to ask the hard questions.

At least she didn't say "I'm sorry Russert isn't still here to ask the hard questions" when Cheney called the late Tim his "go-to guy."

Trying to think of somebody, I can only come up with MSNBC folk, notably David Shuster and Rachel Maddow.

But then The Dark Lord would not allow himself to be interviewed by anyone who would ask him hard questions, would he?

Posted by: RealCalGal | March 17, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone check John King's pulse to see if he was alive. Talk about being intimidated by an interviewee! Gawd, what a spectacle.

Posted by: Bushy | March 17, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Maybe King was auditioning for a spot on Fox News. No follow-up, not asking questions that should have been asked, and in general, letting Cheney get away with the red meat messages he wanted to communicate to the wing nut base of the Rush--er--republican (small r intended) party.

Posted by: gibriley | March 17, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse


Cheney's appearance was precisely to take attention away from the ICRC report. What are the MSM and pundits talking about today? The ICRC report or Gibb's dissing Cheney?

Posted by: troyd2009 | March 17, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

U used to like and respect John King; no more.

Posted by: jeffc6578 | March 17, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

cheney is "an easy target" for prosecution.

when will Obama not realize that the nation and the world demand accountability and justice? some semblance, of justice?

atticus finch knew when to step into the street when the mad dog keeps foaming in the street. for the common good! put cheney in jail.

Posted by: forestbloggod | March 17, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Cheney is, like most of the Bushies, in deep denial. He spoke of the country being attacked on 9/11 as if it were out of the blue, as though NO ONE had spent any time warning them, rather than admit it was they who ignored the warnings. He spoke of engaging in 2 wars, as though the Administration were dragged into them rather than having embraced them. He spoke of foiled plots, but the one example he gave was pure fabrication, it's "facts" debunked by British authorities. Finally he spoke of Katrina as though it was a budget breaking expense when it amounted to 1/1000th of the federal budget. He left out that they were warned about THAT as well--and ignored it. Why anyone would give this sneering, sanctimonious purveyor of manure a platform from which to spew his rubbish amazes me. As for the ridiculous notion that HE wasn't treated respectfully by Gibbs, one might say he received the same contempt with which he treated the people and Constitution of the United States.

Posted by: bklyndan22 | March 17, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Cheney is a war criminal and his minion, George W. Bush, is the same. Why those two not in prison, awaiting execution is beyond me?

Posted by: sailorflat | March 17, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Besides Schuster and Maddow, Norah O'Donnell does a pretty good job.

Posted by: dickdata | March 17, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

What we have to accept, no matter how repulsive it may be, is that Cheney is an essentially evil man who controlled and manipulated a weak-willed blustering ninny of a President as an eminence gris, and proceed from there.

Of course he should be in jail awaiting sentencing for high crimes and treason. But the odds are against it in spite of the mountain of evidence right out there in plain sight.

On the other hand has anyone heard news of an impending book by Scooter?


Posted by: ruinedbruin | March 17, 2009 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Dick Cheney is a great American and the next 4 years will prove it.

Posted by: Lewis740 | March 17, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Dick Cheney is a great American coward and liar. He's a draft dodger who had Lynne popping out babies to avoid serving in the military. For the deaths of thousands of Americans, let alone others, his response was "So?"

Posted by: lmb02 | March 18, 2009 3:32 AM | Report abuse

The Bible says "Judge not, lest ye also be judged" but nevertheless, I just think cheney is one of the most EVILE persons on earth. Hitler was probably cheney's hero.......

Posted by: jean1028 | March 18, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

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