Eugene Robinson Defends Obama by Attacking Dick Cheney

December 31st, 2009 1:18 PM

On Wednesday, former vice president Dick Cheney made the following brief statement to Politico:

[W]e are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren’t, it makes us less safe. Why doesn’t he want to admit we’re at war? It doesn’t fit with the view of the world he brought with him to the Oval Office. It doesn’t fit with what seems to be the goal of his presidency — social transformation — the restructuring of American society.

Cheney's statement was made on December 30, and was given in the context of President Obama having waited for three days to personally comment on the Christmas Day terrorist attack on Northwest Flight 253. Cheney was very obviously giving his opinion that Obama prioritizes social reform over national security, pointing to Obama's handling of the Christmas terror attack as proof.

These criticisms were too much for Eugene Robinson to handle, who responded today in the Washington Post with his not-so-subtlely-titled article "Dick Cheney's Lies About President Obama." Robinson's article is premised upon the bogus notion that he made a new year's resolution to ignore Dick Cheney (as if he could), but these particular statements from Cheney required a response.

It's pathetic to break a New Year's resolution before we even get to New Year's Day, but here I go. I had promised myself that I would do a better job of ignoring Dick Cheney's corrosive and nonsensical outbursts -- that I would treat them, more or less, like the pearls of wisdom one hears from homeless people sitting in bus shelters ... But he is a former vice president, which gives him a big stage for his histrionic Rottweiler-in-Winter act. It is never a good idea to let widely disseminated lies and distortions go unchallenged. And the shrill screed that Cheney unloosed Wednesday is so full of outright mendacity that, well, my resolution will have to wait.

Yes - it is pathetic Mr. Robinson. As an aside, notice Robinson's utter contempt for homeless people, dismissing the entire group as "nonsensical," and whose comments are not even worthy of consideration by such an esteemed member of the media elite.

Back to the business at hand, Robinson claims that Cheney lied when he said "Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war." This statement, according to Robinson is:

Flat-out untrue. The fact is that Obama has said many times that we are at war against terrorists. He said it as a candidate. He said it in his inaugural address: "Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred." He has said it since.  

Robinson goes on to provide further "evidence" that Obama knows we are at war, such as the recent troop commitment to Afghanistan. Robinson goes so far as to point to Obama's "commitment to warfare."

Robinson's main argument is that Cheney is dishonestly claiming that Obama is pretending there is no war at all. Robinson's argument is, in and of itself, dishonest. Cheney's short (and possibly impromptu) statement was obviously directed at recent events.

Parsing the words, Cheney said ... "we are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren’t, it makes us less safe." Cheney's rhetorical statement is not that Obama is denying a war on terrorism, but that he would like to "pretend" these issues do not exist and instead focus on social transformation. Robinson takes Cheney's statement out of context and far beyond its obvious intent.  

The weakness of Robinson's argument is underscored by his all-too-familiar use of personal attacks on Cheney.

"As Cheney well knows, unless he has lost even the most tenuous grip on reality ..."

"Toward the end of his two-paragraph statement, Cheney goes completely off the rails ..."

"It makes you wonder whether Cheney is just feeding the fantasies of the paranoid right or has actually joined the tea-party fringe."

Robinson's defense of Obama here is perfectly understandable. Obama has been hurt by his (and his administration's) response to the Christmas Day terror attack, all of which Robinson acknowledges:

I can find reasons to criticize the administration's response to the Christmas Day attack. Obama and his team were slow off the mark. Their initial statements were weak. Obama shouldn't have waited thee days to speak publicly, and when he did he should have shown some emotion.

But Robinson frames Cheney's actions as far worse, conluding:

But using a terrorist attack to seek political gain? I have a New Year's resolution to suggest for Cheney: Ahead of your quest for personal vindication, put country first.

Robinson's article here is pretty transparent. He knows that Obama has been hurt by the handling of the recent terror attack. Robinson acknowleges the damage but also reminds all of us that we'd be worse off with the "corrosive" Dick Cheney still in charge.

When in doubt, Robinson knows he can always return to a familiar theme for his readers: bash Dick Cheney.