Monday, June 15, 2009

How To Shut Up A Clown

I think Leon Panetta may be onto something here:

CIA Director Leon Panetta's remarks on former Vice President Dick Cheney made in a nearly 7,600-word interview with The New Yorker generated some media attention last night and this morning. Calling them "tough words," ABC World News reported briefly that Panetta said of Cheney, who "has repeatedly, of course, criticized the Obama Administration's approach to terrorism," that "it's almost as if he is wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point.'" Panetta, the New Yorker (6/22, Mayer) reports, was responding to a speech the former vice president made at the American Enterprise Institute, where he accused the Administration of making "the American people less safe" by banning brutal CIA interrogations of terrorism suspects that had been sanctioned by the Bush Administration. With "surprising candor," the magazine reports Panetta said, "I think he smells some blood in the water on the national-security issue. It's almost, a little bit, gallows politics. When you read behind it, it's almost as if he's wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point. I think that's dangerous politics."

Thus, in one stroke, Leon Panetta has made the case that, should the United States be attacked in the next eight years, the blame can be traced directly back to the highest levels of the Bush administration.
It's intriguing how, under Bush, any criticism of the President's strategery for combatting terrorism, from the Iraq war to the constant terror alerts anytime the President was trying to usurp power to the strange rash of terror alerts during the 2004 re-election campaign (and nothing much since) to the justifications for torturing innocent Muslim citizens of foreign lands, was greeted with "Why aren't you goosestepping behind Bush?"
Remember this gem?
The April 26, 2004, Washington Post reported that "Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday that Sen. John Kerry 'has given us ample grounds to doubt' his judgment on national security, but at the same time the chairman of the Democratic National Committee (Terry McAuliffe) in Washington urged the White House to stop such criticism."
Yea, well, not so much, it turns out:

On April 26, 2004, addressed "More Bush Distortions of Kerry Defense Record" stating that the "Latest barrage of ads repeats misleading claims that Kerry 'repeatedly opposed' mainstream weapons."

FactCheck says that Bush's April 26 ads "recycle some distortions of Kerry's voting record on military hardware" and FactCheck has "de-bunked these half-truths before but the Bush campaign persists.
"The ads -- many targeted to specific states -- repeat the claim that Kerry opposed a list of mainstream weapons including Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Apache helicopters, and also repeat the claim that he voted against body armor for frontline troops in Iraq. In fact, Kerry voted against a few large Pentagon money bills, of which Bradleys, Apaches and body armor were small parts, but not against those items specifically."
What is good for the goose should be for the gander, of course, but that's not how Republican politics works. Republican politics works on the assumption that the average American is a NASCAR, beer-swilling moron who believes history began this week.
Sadly, for much of the electorate, and in many cases, just enough of the electorate, they are correct. What Panetta is doing is using that assumption against them. Is Panetta's case accurate? Is Cheney practically inviting an Al Qaeda attack?
I'm going to assume not. I don't think even a cold-blooded, literally heartless man like Dick Cheney would want to turn on his TeeVee to see DC smolder.
But I do think he is capable of wishful thinking, and by calling Cheney out in the extreme, Panetta is putting him on notice about Cheney's own record on terror (spotty, at best, as the strong case can be made that Al Qaeda didn't attack after 9/11 because they simply shot their wad, and other terrorists like the Anthrax killer stepped in, and Cheney and his kind did nothing to find those terrorists).
That presumable bluff should be enough to shut the old man down.