Former Vice President Dick Cheney's public relations apparatus was firing on all cylinders Wednesday morning, with the release of a predictable statement about the failed Underpants Bomber fracas. And by "public relations apparatus" I mean "cable news and Politico."
Needless to say, Cheney is well-qualified to take an authoritative posture when it comes to terrorism. After all, he and his little buddy "kept us safe" from terrorist attacks for eight years, right? Other than the worst terrorist attack in American history, of course, along with the Anthrax Attacks, the Beltway Snipers, the thousands of terrorist attacks on our contractors and soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the attacks on our allies in London and Madrid, Cheney did a fine job keeping us safe (more about this in my book). Good job, Mr. Cheney!
So it wasn't any surprise when Cheney stopped thumbing through Uncle Billy's misplaced $8,000 long enough to fire off a few words about the failed Underpants Bomber attempt and the Obama administration's response. And since Dick Cheney is a very serious terrorism expert -- mainly because more Americans died in terrorist attacks on his watch than any other vice president ever -- the media gobbled it up, practically unchallenged. Cheney said:
As I've watched the events of the last few days it is clear once again that President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war. He seems to think if he has a low-key response to an attempt to blow up an airliner and kill hundreds of people, we won't be at war. He seems to think if he gives terrorists the rights of Americans, lets them lawyer up and reads them their Miranda rights, we won't be at war.
First of all, way to condemn the attempted attack, Mr. Cheney -- oh wait, you didn't condemn anything other than the president. Sorry. You chose instead to attack the commander-in-chief while troops are in harm's way. Weren't you guys totally against that sort of thing, by the way? Oh right. Everything prior to January 20, 2009 doesn't count.
But that last part about giving "terrorists the rights of Americans" and letting them "lawyer up," is fascinating coming from Mr. Cheney.
Maybe the worms have begun to infect his brain to a point where he's forgotten about how his administration allowed Richard Reid, the "Shoe Bomber," to be prosecuted, tried, convicted and incarcerated on American soil in our civilian judicial system. And which administration was it that released the Yemeni plotters from Guantanamo? Guess. The year was 2007 and unless Barack Obama has a totally rad time traveling DeLorean, President Bush and Dick Cheney were running our anti-terrorism efforts at that point. Good job again, Mr. Cheney!
The reality is that Dick Cheney is fully aware of his inconsistencies and contradictions. This strategy of deliberate ignorance is a phenomenon that's rampant on the wingnut right. In fact, it's been going on for more than a year now, and it's absolutely reached a high water mark this week.
The wingnut right has been essentially recycling liberal attacks on Bush/Cheney and using them to attack President Obama and the current administration. It's literally a childish game of payback.
Call our guy a lazy, incompetent doofus who spends more time on vacation, will you? Well, see how you like it! Naa-naaaa!
They've tried almost every Bush era attack, even though none of them fit the current president.
All the while pretending they didn't defend Bush for the exact same things. Yet, for some reason, whenever the wingnut right engages in this silly game, they're treated like serious grown-ups. (Technically, it's the press's responsibility to ask people like Dick Cheney about inconsistencies rather than simply reading his statement and inviting a Republican stooge like Ron Christie on TV to defend it.)
I mean, almost everything Karl Rove has said about the Obama administration is a recycled Bush attack. This week:
And the president waits 72 hours before we hear from him, and it's over 72 hours from the time of the incident to the time that the president spoke today...
How many days sailed on by before Bush responded to the Shoe Bomber attempt? Six days. Prior to this doozy, Rove slammed President Obama for Japanese Bow Gate -- totally and deliberately ignoring Bush's handholding, sword dances and bronskies with the Saudis. I can't confirm the bronskies.
As with Cheney, and probably more so, Rove knows exactly what he's doing. He's tweaking Democrats and liberals as a form of petulant, childish payback.
What should be of greater concern to the Democrats and the White House is that this payback hackery has the serious potential to go well beyond the self-contradictory jabs within the pages of Politico and Drudge.
This week ought to prove once and for all that if there's ever a successful terrorist hijacking and detonation of another taint bomb, the Republican Party -- especially if they gain a majority in Congress -- will absolutely move to impeach the president.
In the aftermath of the successful and terrible 9/11 attacks, Bush's approval ratings shot up to 90 percent. Democrats and Republicans rallied around the president in defiance against violent religious extremism. Meanwhile, President Obama has just presided over a failed terrorist attack in which a Qaeda-doof botched a crotch rocket -- the airplane landed on time and there were minimal injuries. The hijacker is still alive and is talking like a Chatty Cathy doll. Yet President Obama is somehow targeted by the right as an utter failure because of it. Now imagine if there had been an attack even close to the scope of the 9/11 hijackings.
In other words, preside over the biggest terrorist attack in American history and it's an epic win for President Bush. Preside over a failed attack and it's an epic fail for President Obama.
I'm actually a little surprised that the Republicans, lead by Peter King and Pete Hoekstra, haven't attacked President Obama for not responding to the news of that van in Times Square that turned out to be nothing. Why is Obama weak on not-at-all-related-to-terrorism?
The Republicans are doing this because they can. Jim DeMint is going unchallenged for putting a hold on the TSA administrator nomination because he can. The Washington establishment media is gamed in favor of the Republicans and their peepee-pants fear-mongering due to a self-conscious striving for balance. No one will seriously challenge the Republicans because the press is mortally terrified of being labeled as "in the tank for Obama." Instead, false equivalencies and free passes for unmitigated GOP hypocrisy rule the day. And Dick Cheney gets to say whatever he wants, whenever he wants without so much as a follow-up question.
CORRECTION: ABC News originally reported that two former Gitmo detainees helped plan the attack. This is inaccurate. Only one former Gitmo detainee, released by Dick Cheney and George W. Bush in 2007, helped to plan the failed Underpants attack.