September 2, 2004


The Cheney View of the World, With a Focus on Danger and Boldness (DAVID E. SANGER, 9/02/04, NY Times)

Vice President Dick Cheney reverted on Wednesday night to the simple, bold declarations of how America should exercise its power that were often heard in the first year after the Sept. 11 attacks, when Iraq had not yet been invaded, intelligence reports had not yet proved false, and 17 months of insurgency had not yet raised the question of whether George W. Bush had taken a wrong turn in the fight against terror.

Instead, Mr. Cheney jettisoned the complications of the past year, honing the central argument of the Republican campaign: that the country could not trust Senator John Kerry to strike decisively in the defense of American interests. "Senator Kerry began his political career by saying he would like to see our troops deployed 'only at the directive of the United Nations,' " Mr. Cheney said last night, according to a prepared text of his remarks.

He added: "He declared at the Democratic convention that he will forcefully defend America - after we have been attacked. My fellow Americans, we have already been attacked,'' he said, suggesting the nation cannot be safe without a president who is instinctively ready to go on offense to eliminate threats to the United States.

To some it may seem an over-distilled message, discarding much of what the Bush administration has learned, often the hard way, over the past year. It largely ignores discussion of the value of alliances, the need to treat the roots of terrorism, or the requirements of slow, patient diplomacy in places - like Iran, North Korea, even Pakistan - where there are no real military options. Mr. Bush's critics will say it sidesteps the problems of murky intelligence and deeply festering resentments of American power around the world.

But as Mr. Bush's and Mr. Cheney's advisers have said repeatedly in recent weeks, campaigns and the subtleties of national security policy do not easily mix. So they have settled on a strategy that is designed to sow doubts about their opponent's character ("Senator Kerry's liveliest disagreement is with himself,'' Mr. Cheney said on Wednesday night), while hoping that some bold declarations about taking the fight to the enemy would overwhelm memories of the missteps of the past year.

John Meacham summed up the Dick Cheney role well on Hardball: he's Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men--you want him holding the wall but you don't want to know how he does it. The Dick Cheney who spoke tonight is precisely the kind of guy who, if the terrorists took over the school your kid was at, you'd trust would do whatever was necessary to either get him out safely or hunt the perpetrators like wild dogs.

The Strong, Silent Type; Vice President Cheney Doesn't Suffer Small Talk When He's Looking at the Big Picture (Mark Leibovich, 1/18/2004, Washington Post)

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 2, 2004 12:00 AM

It never ceases to amaze me that people like Meacham make the comparison to Colonel Jessup as though it were a slur. Try picking up a rifle and stand a post, Meacham.

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at September 2, 2004 12:35 AM

No. he meant it the right way and JC Watts and Joe Scarborough understood it that way. For men (Republicans) he's the hero of the movie.

Posted by: oj at September 2, 2004 12:57 AM

Bizarrely enough, the hero of that movie (for me) is the Demi Moore character. One of her co-counsels asks her, regarding the young Marines they're defending (against a charge of killing a fellow Marine) , "Why do like them so much?" She answers, "Because they stand on a wall and say, 'Nothing's gonna hurt you tonight. Not on my watch.'" Compared to that, Jessup's just an old blowhard.

Posted by: joe shropshire at September 2, 2004 1:53 AM

To me Dick Cheneney is a feature not a bug. The MSM has spent so much energy bashing him that he does not "poll well" whatever that means. But I am greatly reassured to know that a man with his solid good judgment is sitting in the co-pilots seat.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at September 2, 2004 1:55 AM