Monday, October 26, 2009

Sure, Dick can talk...

Some liberal bloggers are annoyed with this Slate piece. I'm not. It's thesis isn't wrong, anyway. The notion that Dick Cheney, as some sort of elder statesman, shouldn't criticize Obama is silly. Cheney's a citizen, and if the media is willing to listen to him, I don't particularly see why his rank alone should preclude his criticism. Of course, the fact that he was a massively incompetent and embarrassing official largely responsible for the humanitarian and defensive failures of the Bush Administration should make him think twice about his legacy before spouting off on the same trails. That and perhaps a smidgen of good taste, perhaps. Cheney seems not too afflicted with that condition, though. The fact that he's discredited and reviled ought to be enough for the media not to cover him (but it's not, because he creates conflict). Cheney's not a particularly talented politician (though he's rather a talented political operator), he doesn't know how to find the center of public opinion and he's not that persuasive, but rather just abrasive, which is why his party ought to ask him to stand down. But they won't, because they're that starved for leadership. And in the end, the voters aren't going to forget that they don't like Dick Cheney, and his constant presence on the teevee is merely going to help Democrats assist voters in recalling the disastrous Age of Bush. And the Villagers say that Democrats still talk about Bush too much! How can one not when his little friend won't go away! In the end, Cheney's continued presence is a sideshow that takes attention away from legitimate foreign policy discussion. I'm guessing ol' Dick doesn't have a problem with that.

All this is why Cheney shouldn't be getting attention from his outbursts. Not because of some made-up emeritus distinction. But I'm guessing he'll continue to get attention. Cable news loves some growling!

(P.S. That Slate piece isn't that great, though. There are a number of examples of this sort of thing, but the point of the piece is utterly banal--basically to say that it's somewhat common for former Oval Office denizens to criticize a sitting president--but there's not really much of a point or an argument aside from that, and most of the post-VP Cheney criticism I've read centers squarely on how he has no credibility, how he was a disaster, etc. That angle is unaddressed. Actual quote: "If that makes Cheney unpatriotic, he's in good company. There's a proud tradition of former executive-branch leaders disparaging sitting presidents. The most notorious example—the ur-ex-presidential critic—is Herbert Hoover." If you're deputizing Hoover into any argument for anything other than his post-WWI humanitarian work, you're doing it wrong. )

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.