mind your business

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Joe and Dick's War of Words

"Who cares" what Dick Cheney says?

In his recent interview with a pool of reporters, Vice President Joe Biden responded to Cheney's blistering criticism that the Obama Administration is "'dithering' on ordering more troops to Afghanistan, as he plows through an exhaustive review of US strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan."

"I think that is absolutely wrong," Biden added, checking himself before completely finishing the statement, noting his gaffe-prone speaking history: "Who cares what-- Yeah, yeah, I can see the headline now. I'm getting better, guys. I'm getting a little better, you know what I mean?"

Now I agree with Vice President Biden on Mr. Cheney's relevance: Who cares? I will in fact say what the current Vice President cannot say because it would make way too awesome of a headline coming from him: Dick Cheney needs to shut his mouth.

Former Presidents and Vice Presidents need to back off of engaging in partisan politics and direct critiques of sitting Presidents. It is an unwelcome development and precedent in the history of American politics as far as I'm concerned. I'm getting sick of Dick Cheney's embarrassing and improper displays of remarkable arrogance and no sense of boundaries.

I must also say that however distasteful it is coming from Mr. Cheney (especially given his abysmal record of foreign policy flops), that the critique itself is absolutely right, Joe Biden's denials notwithstanding. Obama is dithering on Afghanistan and our troops are suffering for it.

The Commander-in-Chief has time to involve himself in the Olympic Committee's selection process, hold a "beer summit," attend the First Lady's rigorous schedule of White House ceremonies and parties, and over-use a complicit media to sell an unpopular health reform plan, but doesn't have time to make a decision about Afghanistan while more troops are dying there than ever before?

Get with the program, Mr. President! It's not all fun, games, parties, adulation, and hero-worship. You ran for an office that has very serious responsibilities and it is more than infuriating to see you winning a Nobel Peace Prize while sitting on your hands and letting America's best, brightest, and bravest young men and women die.


  1. ""Who cares" what Dick Cheney says?"

    I do. His knowledge and opinions on world affairs are much more valuable than those of either Biden or Obama.

    "Dick Cheney needs to shut his mouth."

    That statement is uncharacteristically rude, especially since you agreed with the content of Cheney's comment: "the critique itself is absolutely right".

    You have made your own opinion irrelevant.

    Raleigh, NC

  2. Hans, as always, thanks for your challenging thoughts. Please keep commenting!

    You may be right that Mr. Cheney's opinions are more valuable than those of either of our sitting executives (if by value we mean how informed and/or "wise" those opinions are).

    Though I'm inclined to think that all three of them are closer to the unwise, imprudent, and unconstitutional side of the spectrum than the other side.

    Whether Cheney has valuable insights to offer however, is a separate question from whether it is at all appropriate or good for our republic that as the former Vice President he should do so.

    That is why I treat of the issues separately. I agree with exactly what he's saying, but that doesn't mean I think he should be the one saying it.

    I think that's perfectly consistent.

  3. I would agree that it is improper for an ex-President to criticize the sitting President, but I hadn't heard of that rule applying to former Vice Presidents so I believe it is proper for Cheney to question the administration's tactics since this administration has been harsh in its criticism of the Bush administration. This administration has been very critical of the previous administration, to the point of being childish whiners, and at an unprecedented rate, or number of times. I am proud of Cheney speaking up for what is right for the troops. I wish both Bush and Cheney had stood up for themselves better and defended their positions better during their administration.

    I agree with Cheney. Obama is dithering. And, he is further endangering the lives of our military by playing politics instead of answering McCrhystal's request. If you agree with Cheney, I don't quite understand what your beef with Cheney is. I am all for Cheney defending the Bush administration and questioning this administration's tactics. He's got courage which I haven't seen from many of the politicians lately. Maybe this will give some politicians the initiative to chime in and speak up for the troops.

  4. I just recently wrote a post with some funny pictures I believe you will like that is relevant to the topic. Enjoy!

  5. Hans and Teresa,

    Let me preface my statements by saying that I am not an Obama supporter.

    Now, I would urge both of you to reconsider your position on Cheney. First, Afghanistan is a raging mess precisely because of Bush's and Cheney's inept policies. If their policies had been truly effective, then, eight years later, we would be discussing our swift, decisive victory. Despite 8 years in a third world country, Bush and Cheney did not achieve victory. Second, Bush's and Cheney's invasion of Iraq dramatically curtailed efforts in Afghanistan, one of the indisputable focal points on the War on Terror. Third, as a direct result of Cheney's and Bush's policy on Afghanistan and Iraq, our military is now facing record suicide rates and a PTSD breakout. Multiple, repeated deployments have devastating consequences on our men and women. Eight years (and counting) of highly intense, open-ended warfare has exacted a severe psychological toll on our troops. Fourth, the last two or three years of the Bush administration saw a noticeable rise in Afghan violence. However, Bush and Cheney didn't institute a surge. They sat idly by, instead focusing on a surge in Iraq. If anything, based on your preference for more troops, you should salute Obama for his first surge of 21,000 troops in Afghanistan earlier this year. Fifth, let's not forget, Cheney's and Bush's policies, particularly on foreign policy, increased the deficit, added to the national debt, and hurt the value of the Dollar.

    I would urge both of you to reread some of the articles discussing Afghanistan and foreign policy on this blog. There is an alternative, conservative way that will fight terrorism and defend America without breaking the bank, exacerbating the psychological toll on our brave men and women, and leading to higher and higher casualty rates. Check out this blog. Check out the Cato Institute. Open your mind to another conservative option.

  6. Anonymous,
    I will say that Bush and Cheney should have focused their efforts more on Afghanistan in the the past 4 years or so, but in addition to Iraq, not instead of Iraq. I believe that if we did not go into Iraq than the situation would be much worse for our troops. Our troops would have to deal with both Iran and Iraq, and maybe others' sending terrorists into Afghnaistan. You can bet that Saddam Hussein would be gathering his terrorists and sending them into Afghanistan to kill our troops. I would rather Obama send more troops but the more time he dithers, our chances for victory decreases with each passing day, and if Obama is NOT going to send his General the troops he needs than we should bring the troops home.

    If the leaders in the past had the same mentality as you in relation to lives lost than in past wars I doubt we would have won any of those wars out of fear, and fear of lives being lost for a greater cause. Our troops are overseas fighting for a greater cause, for the safety of our country. If the United States does not stay in Afghanistan than the United States may have to live with another 9/11 like attack(God Forbid).

  7. Dear Anonymous -

    My mind is not closed to "alternatives".

    I commented to spank what I considered a rude remark.

    Raleigh, NC

  8. Teresa,

    A bunch of evidence has revealed that Iraq had no link to 9/11, had no weapons of mass destruction, had no nuclear program, had no Al-Qaeda safe havens, and had virtually no army, navy, or air force. Saddam was an impotent, contained dictator. A dictator, mind you, that we supported for 8 years during the Iran-Iraq war.

    Regarding your final statements, please be aware that there are real conservatives out there that are advocating a more limited, narrowly defined approach to Afghanistan. I think they're mentioned in previous blogs. George Will and Retired Lieutenant Colonel Peters for example? We could prevent any resurgence by Al-Qaeda with drones, air strikes, missile strikes, special ops forces, and intelligence cooperation with certain groups. It wouldn't require 70k-150k ground troops. There's a guy from the Cato Institute, David Rittgers, who actually served three tours in Afghanistan as a special ops guy, and even he says we don't need more troops in Afghanistan to defend America. Check him out.

    And I think one of the previous blogs on Afghanistan dealt with the whole economic aspect. Where do we get the money for all these extra troops? We're $12 trillion in debt, running over $1 trillion budget deficits, and the US Dollar is sinking. More troops and an open-ended time frame will cost alot more money that we don't have. We'll have to borrow more from China, print more money out of thin air, or start taxing the people more to pay for a longer war with alot more troops.

    But, what if we could fight Al-Qaeda for a lot cheaper? For a lot fewer casualties? For a lot fewer PTSD cases? Wouldn't that be a more prudent approach? One based not on fear, but on objective analysis?

    That's the conservative way, I think. Doing high quality work, for the lowest possible cost.

  9. Anonymous,
    Honestly, I don't care whether Iraq was linked to 9/11 or not. The fact that we went into save Iraqis from a brutal dictator who sent his soldiers out to rape, kill etc. was enough for me to agree with our military going into Iraq. As for the other War/s hindsight is always 20/20 and its real easy for us to sit in our cozy homes and say what should have happened back then. That isn't a reason NOT to do the right thing today. I also believe that the U.S. should be and have been helping the people in Darfur and other regions that have been victims of mass murder, which the Kurds(I think I have the Muslim sect correct) in Iraq were mass murdered by Saddam years ago.

    I wish we could get our troops, and innocent civilians out of Afghanistan, and use drones and airstrikes to blow the place up to smithereens. The generals are trying to fight the compassionate war, which I am not quite sure I agree with or not. If the plan is to use drones and missiles than it doesn't make sense that Obama sent those additional troops there in March. But, regardless of the decision, I think that Obama has been dithering due to politics.

  10. Teresa, I understand where you're coming from, and I agree with you about Obama's dithering. However, two things. First, regarding helping the Iraqi people and other regions plagued by terrible violence and ruthless dictators, by that logic, we'd have to invade and occupy a whole host of nations around the world. Iran? Syria? Somalia? Gaza? Most of Africa? North Korea? Where would we get the money? How long do we stay? How many troops would we realistically lose? We're in unbelievable debt. We have a monstrous budget deficit. Our military is already stretched thin in Iraq and Afghanistan. If compassionate people like you want to help, then send money, volunteer, travel abroad, and contribute through the private sector. Otherwise, the government can only focus on the most vital national security interests.

    Second, regarding 20/20 hindsight, there's truth to what you say, but remember, there were a few Republicans and some Democrats who disputed Iraq's 9/11 link. Their warnings of a long, open-ended, guerrilla war proved to be pretty accurate. We shouldn't ignore this. We should learn a lesson so as to avoid future mistakes.

  11. Anonymous,
    I will point out is that the U.N. had 18 resolutions against Iraq and pretty much ignored the whole situation for years. If the U.S., other nations, and the U.N. would take care of certain horrors happening in the world in a more timely manner instead of waiting for disaster to turn into multiple major catastrophes than it may not cost as much to rebuild etc. Plus, the money inpact wouldn't be felt all at once. Unfortunately, I believe that the developed countries economically keep the developing countries poor out of greed. Just think about Rwanda? genocide? WE could have saved countless lives. Sometimes doing the right thing, like the U.S. did in WWII regardless of length, or no matter what the level of brutality and toughness the war reached, the U.S. was willing to be persevere until the war was won.