By: Carl Wicklander
Reading through the transcript of former Vice President Dick Cheney's interview with ABC News one thing is clear: he is not sorry about anything.
There are plenty of statements worth discussing. Judging from the media reaction, Cheney only seems to have commented that the selection of Sarah Palin in 2008 was a "mistake." This is hardly breaking news nor particularly controversial. There has been a little push-back but the general silence from movement conservatives seems to acknowledge that the Palin candidacy was a fiasco.
But what I found more interesting was Cheney's criticism of President Obama as commander-in-chief (excerpt left unedited from transcript):
"I believe that - as we go forward, there's no question in my mind but what - Mitt Romney would be much better as a commander in chief than - is Barack Obama.
"I think Obama's made some big mistakes. I look, for example, at the Middle East situation today. It's - seems to be growing increasingly chaotic. We've seen the Muslim Brotherhood elected in Egypt. We've got the ongoing conflict in Syria where thousands of people have died. Looks like the Assad regime's gonna collapse. We don't know what ultimately is gonna replace it."
It actually amuses me that Republicans think attacking Obama on foreign policy is a winning issue for them. As Jonathan Rauch tried to explain in a recent editorial for The New Republic, Obama is a devotee of "Classic Republican foreign policy." I would say Obama's term has been marked more by stealthiness than naked aggression, but the point is well-taken.
To a great extent this phenomenon is the product of Cheney's influence in the Bush 43 administration. The prudent statesmanship of Eisenhower, Nixon, and to a lesser extent Reagan and Bush 41, has been so scrubbed from Republican identity to the point that presidential leadership is reduced to the willingness to carpet-bomb the world and boast about it.
But Cheney actually says nothing of substance in this statement. He basically lists off the conditions in a few countries and calls them Obama's "mistakes."
Yes, the Muslim Brotherhood was elected in Egypt and as an American observing it, that's clearly not an appealing situation. But no sooner was the Brotherhood elected the country's military council declared the results invalid and the new Egyptian president is still having a stare-down with the army.
But Cheney's comment about Syria is perhaps the densest one of all: "We've got the ongoing conflict in Syria where thousands of people have died. Looks like the Assad regime's gonna collapse. We don't know what ultimately is gonna replace it."
What does Cheney propose Obama do about thousands of people dying in Syria? He doesn't answer but the only proposition being put forth from anyone in Washington is to arm the rebels - the one option that guarantees escalation of the violence and more deaths.
Obama hasn't given much indication that he supports regime change in Syria - perhaps until now - so by implying Obama has made a "mistake" in Syria, Cheney is saying that the problem with Syria is that the rebels aren't committing enough acts of violence.
But Cheney's very next statement provides every reason not to arm the rebels because "We don't know what ultimately is gonna replace it." For an idea of who that might be and who certain American politicians would like to arm, they may want to take a look at a title from Monday's New York Times: "As Syria Battles Go On, Jidhadists Take Bigger Role."
Cheney is back. He's smart enough to back out of a role at the Tampa convention, but with a new ticker and a renewed resolve, he's showing that he plans to keep defending a record most Republicans would rather not talk about.