Bozell Column: Cheers for Cheney
Dick Cheney clearly drives the liberal media nuts. As much as they’d like to bask in the glow of the new and glorious Obama Era, they simply cannot achieve that requisite state of Nirvana with Cheney around. They spent eight long years packaging Cheney as some evil and deadly combination of Darth Vader and the Ebola virus. Now they can add to the descriptors a new title: Count Dracula. The man refuses to die.
That’s why every speech he makes draws a ferocious chorus of media boos of outrage at the idea he would dare to think he has freedom to speak in the first place. CNN’s Anderson Cooper was so flustered over Cheney’s latest speech at the American Enterprise Institute that he asked Cheney’s daughter Elizabeth: "If a Democrat was doing this in a Republican administration, wouldn’t be the Republicans be saying, this is traitorous?"
This is just too rich.
When President Bush was in power, he was regularly assaulted with rhetorical flame-throwers. He was a mad bomber, a dictator, a grand ayatollah, a world-class dolt, even a "smirking chimp." He was Gomer Pyle, all Three Stooges, and Dan Quayle Redux. His tactics were comparable to the KGB, the Nazis, and the Khmer Rouge. And his critics were painted as the essence of patriotic dissent.
But when Cheney protests the Obama administration weakening the war on terror to the point it won’t even call it terror (just a "man-caused disaster"), bam! He’s Benedict Arnold.
Cindy Sheehan insisted Bush killed her son in Iraq and literally suggested Team Bush was traitorous: "George and his indecent bandits traitorously had intelligence fabricated to fit their goal of invading Iraq." Everywhere she went, the media laid out the red carpet. But when Cheney defends himself, it is "traitorous"?
Cheney was blunt about waterboarding. "To call this a program of torture is to libel the dedicated professionals who have saved American lives, and to cast terrorists and murderers as innocent victims."
Cooper savaged Cheney’s daughter with Evil Empire analogies on harsh interrogation techniques. "These are techniques which have been around. I mean, the Nazis used them. The Khmer Rouge used them. The North Koreans used them." Does Cooper really believe that America is just like those mass-murdering dictatorships? We waterboarded the architect of 9/11, but Cooper’s addled outrage implies that the man with the water pitcher is as evil as the man with the wet face who sent more than 3,000 American men, women, and children to their deaths.
When it comes to Bush and Cheney, activists in the media can’t produce anything but distorted caricatures. Here’s CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin on Cheney’s speech: "He chose to speak in a chilling code, in which methods of torture such as waterboarding became ‘enhanced interrogation,’ in the way that death might be called ‘enhanced sleep.’" In their fevered imaginations, waterboarding is a piece of rhetorical Saran Wrap removed from execution.
Dick Cheney knows this is all wildly exaggerated. That’s why he spoke out against "feigned outrage based on a false narrative. In my long experience in Washington, few matters have inspired so much contrived indignation and phony moralizing as the interrogation methods applied to a few captured terrorists." He added "that people who consistently distort the truth in this way are in no position to lecture anyone about values."
Anderson Cooper and Jeffrey Toobin: he’s talking about you.
Some of those distorters of truth call themselves the "news" media, but their "values" are often at odds with the national interest. Getting the story first and getting the Pulitzer Prize seems like less of a social responsibility than keeping the country safe.
The former vice president didn’t pull punches on media irresponsibility. One passage that caused a stir was his attack on the New York Times for blowing the secrecy of the Terrorist Surveillance Program. "After 9/11, the Times had spent months publishing the pictures and the stories of everyone killed by al-Qaeda on 9/11. Now here was that same newspaper publishing secrets in a way that could only help al-Qaeda. It impressed the Pulitzer committee, but it damn sure didn’t serve the interests of our country, or the safety of our people."
The New York Times didn’t find that passage "fit to print." They hailed Obama’s "nuanced" approach, while denouncing Cheney’s speech as implying "absolutism in the defense of liberty is no vice."
Dick Cheney was right to support an aggressive war on terror then, and he’s right to get out on the public stage and support an aggressive war on terror now, as the Obama administration makes crucial decisions on whether we stay aggressive, or lay our defenses down. Liberal outrage at this volume tells you he’s doing something very right.
Where was he from 2001 to 2008?