Tag Archives: Dick Cheney

Say it ain’t so, Joe

It pains me to say this, but I must reiterate what I believe remains the case to this day.

Democrats need not look to old warhorses to salvage their political fortunes, which means to me that former Vice President Joe Biden shouldn’t be a candidate for his party’s presidential nomination in 2020.

I say this despite my affection and respect for the former vice president. I’ve long admired his tenacity, his passionate patriotism and his sense of collegiality and comity. He served in the U.S. Senate for 36 years before joining the Democratic Party ticket led in 2008 by his Senate colleague, Barack H. Obama.

I believe still that Democrats need to find a newcomer to the national scene. I believe also that the nation has become afflicted with Clinton Fatigue, which means Hillary Clinton also is out of the presidential political game.

It appears to me that Democrats would do well to look for someone who is as unknown to the public as Jimmy Carter was in 1976. The nation was starved back then for a fresh face and they got one when the former Georgia governor climbed to the top of the party’s primary fight.

Vice President Biden has said publicly that he hasn’t ruled out a 2020 run. He was thought to be a possible candidate in 2016, but at the end had to stand down, given his intense grief over the death of his son Beau and his inability to commit fully to a presidential campaign.

Biden has been openly critical of Donald John Trump. Hmmm. Imagine that. So have many others. The ex-VP has spoken out strongly, much like another former veep — Dick Cheney — did during much of President Obama’s time in office.

But I don’t believe a Biden presidential campaign is going to serve the party well. Democrats would do well to find a fresh face, with fresh ideas to challenge a Republican Party that has been hijacked by a president who came into power knowing not a damn thing about how to govern the greatest nation on Earth.

Where has Dick Cheney been hiding?

Paging the former vice president of the United States, Richard Bruce Cheney!

You might recall — as I do — that Dick Cheney was a vocal, frequent and occasionally obnoxious critic of President Barack H. Obama. Yes, throughout Obama’s two terms as president, Cheney was making himself available on TV and radio talk shows to tell us how the president was endangering the nation, that he was the “worst foreign policy president” in U.S. history.

So, Obama leaves office. Donald John Trump Sr. takes over. Trump has made a mess of a lot of things.

The Russia matter? Allegations of collusion with the Russians? North Korea? Declaring that an aircraft battle group was steaming toward Korea when it actually was traveling in precisely the opposite direction, from Australia into the Indian Ocean?

Then we have the domestic stuff: Charlottesville and the president’s seeming cozying up to Nazis and Klansmen; the transgender ban in the U.S. military.

Where is Cheney? Mr. Vice President, have you nothing at all to say about the new president? You were pretty damn quick on the verbal trigger when Barack Obama was the man in charge.

It’s not that I necessarily want to hear what the former vice president has to say. It’s just that the current political debate seems so quiet without his voice.

Obama disagrees with Trump refugee ban? No kidding!

It didn’t take Barack Obama long at all to weigh in against a policy pronouncement by his presidential successor, Donald Trump.

“The President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion,” said the former president’s spokesman, Kevin Lewis.

I’m going to take another gulp of air now and say this: I wish the former president would have stayed quiet on this one … for two reasons.

First, it should surprise no one that the ex-president opposes Trump’s idiotic refugee ban targeting those coming to the United States from Muslim-majority nations. President Obama made that point abundantly clear during his two terms in office, that the United States must not discriminate against anyone because of their religion as we fight this war against international terrorism.

The second reason is that I continue to endorse the George W./George H.W. Bush view of former presidents criticizing their successors. Bush 43 was essentially quiet during the Obama presidency; Bush 41 also kept quiet during the two terms of Bill Clinton’s presidency. They both adhered to the same principle: We had our time in the arena; that time is up and the men who followed them are entitled to conduct foreign and domestic policy without being sniped at by their predecessor.

Indeed, I was critical former Vice President Dick Cheney’s continual carping about Obama’s conduct of the office.


Don’t misunderstand me. I endorse Barack Obama’s opinion of Trump’s ban on refugees. It was poorly conceived and even more poorly executed. Several state attorneys general have filed lawsuits challenging its constitutionality.

However, Barack Obama need tell us what we already know about what he thinks about a particular Trump policy.

Who decides Trump ‘needs’ briefing?


Donald J. Trump says he doesn’t need to be briefed daily on national security issues because “like, I’m a smart person.”

The president-elect also says he gets the briefings when “I need it.”

My question is this: Who determines whether Trump “needs” the briefing, the president-elect or the national security team assigned to provide the intelligence information to him?


What appears to be emerging here is an enormous responsibility for Mike Pence, the vice president-elect who happens to have actual government experience as governor of Indiana and before that as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Pence gets the briefings far more frequently than Trump, according to the president-elect. This suggests to me that Pence is preparing to the Trump administrations’ go-to guy on issues relating to national security.

Fighting the Islamic State? Dealing with geopolitical threats in Europe, Asia and Latin America?

Let Mike deal with it. The president is too busy making America great again.

And I bet you thought no vice president could wield the clout that Dick Cheney did during the George W. Bush administration.

Obama might speak out as a former POTUS? Bad idea


Barack Obama is sending some signals that he might not leave the public arena once his successor takes office.

The 44th president of the United States might keep speaking out even as the 45th president, Donald J. Trump, begins his term.

Let’s think for a moment about that.

OK. I’ve thought about it. It’s a bad notion. I hope the president rethinks his temptation to keep speaking out.

I have applauded two former presidents — George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush — for their decisions to stay away from the rough-and-tumble. Both men have declared their intention to stay out of the limelight. They both have said essentially the same thing: They had their time in the arena; it’s time to cede the spotlight to someone else.

I was particularly pleased that George W. Bush remained faithful to that pledge, particularly while former Vice President Dick Cheney kept popping off about President Obama’s foreign policy decisions. I urged Cheney to follow his former boss’s lead: Keep your trap shut, Mr. Vice President.

Follow your boss’ lead, Mr. Vice President

Barack Obama’s time is coming to an end. He will have plenty of work to occupy his time while he returns to some semblance of a private life. He’s got a presidential library to plan and develop. He can set up a foundation that continues to speak to the issues near to his heart; the state of race relations comes to mind.

Should he provide post-presidential critiques of decisions that come from the man who’ll succeed him? I hope he keeps his thoughts to himself.

As many of his predecessors have noted, we have only one president at a time. The guy who’ll sit in the Oval Office will get plenty of hits from the rest of us out here in the peanut gallery.

What about the deficit and the national debt?


Hey, wait a second! Didn’t Republicans around the country gripe their voices hoarse about the size of the federal budget deficit and the debt that President Obama was running up?

Didn’t they proclaim that the world would come crashing down around us all if we didn’t get a handle on the debt?

That was before Donald J. Trump got elected president this past week, apparently.

Now it looks as though we’re about to blow the deficit apart and run up even more debt, now that the GOP is in control of the White House and Capitol Hill.


Trump wants to enact a massive infrastructure spending bill — while cutting taxes.

Let me see if I can figure this out. You spend billions of dollars, cut revenue to pay for it and then you watch the debt pile up and, oh yes, run up annual budget deficits that under Obama’s watch had been cut by two-thirds.

As Politico reports: “’There is now a real risk that we will see an onslaught of deficit-financed goodies — tax cuts, infrastructure spending, more on defense — all in the name of stimulus, but which in reality will massively balloon the debt,’ said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.”

I guess the GOP is going to return to the refrain that came from former Vice President Dick Cheney, who once declared (in)famously that “deficits don’t matter.”

Well, they do matter, Mr. Vice President. I consider myself a deficit hawk and it troubles me that the upcoming GOP spending spree well might threaten our economic recovery.

If we determine we need to repair our roads, bridges and airports, then we ought to dig a little deeper for the money to pay for them.

And to think the Republican Party once ran on the principle of fiscal responsibility.” What the new president is proposing — and what the GOP-run Congress is likely to approve — is anything but responsible.

Condi Rice’s role on 9/11: How did she escape blame?


Americans commemorated recently the 15th year since the 9/11 attacks.

It was a life-changer for many of us. It certainly changed the way we view our place in the world, and whether we are as “safe” as we thought we were.

There’s been plenty of blame tossed around in the decade-and-a-half since that terrible day.

Lots of reputations have been soiled and sullied.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld, CIA director George Tenet all have taken their share of hits over what happened.

One person, though, skated through it. And for the life of me, I am baffled over how this happened.

We had a national security adviser on duty. Condoleezza Rice was that person. Rice’s task, as her job title declares, was to protect our nation. It was her duty to ensure that we remained alert and vigilant against any threat.

On Sept. 11, 2001, barely nine months into the Bush administration’s first term, it all fell apart.

Why didn’t Condi Rice take the hit? How did she escape the blame that was leveled at so many of her colleagues?

As near as I can discern, her national reputation remains largely intact.

The Afghan War that developed shortly after the attack is still under way. We’ve gotten out of Iraq, ending a war that President Bush started based on false information about Iraq’s non-existent role in the 9/11 attack.

Still, of all the finger-pointing — at Bush, Cheney, Rummy, Powell, Tenet and the rest — no one has laid a hand on the individual, Condi Rice, whose primary responsibility was to ensure that this kind of attack doesn’t occur.

She failed.

How is that she’s never been held accountable for that failure?

Trump must be taking a dive


It’s fair to wonder out loud — as some have done already — whether Donald J. Trump is deliberately trying to lose this election.

Is he throwing the election? Is he deliberately setting himself up to lose the 2016 presidential election?

I’m not ready to swallow that bait. However, some things he said today at his foreign policy speech have me wondering.

For example, and I’ll offer just this one for now …

What in the world is he thinking when he criticizes the most recent Republican president and his administration for going to war in Iraq in 2003?

Trump didn’t mention President George W. Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney by name, but he ventured into a scathing condemnation of their decision to start the Iraq War.

I can recall when Democrats did that in 2004. When Democratic presidential nominee U.S. Sen. John Kerry criticized the administration’s decision to go to war, he was vilified by Republicans. He was condemned by those who proceeded to fabricate phony criticism of Sen. Kerry’s gallant service during the Vietnam War.

Now, a dozen years later, the Republican presidential nominee says the very same thing that Democrats said about the Bush administration and the silence from the GOP base has been, well, deafening.

Still, it has me wondering whether those Republicans are going to sit this election out, denying Trump of the base of voters he’ll need to make this election competitive.

I don’t believe Trump is a stupid man. He’s smart enough — maybe, perhaps — to understand that he isn’t up to the job he is seeking. Or, just maybe he’s campaigning for president as some sort of unprecedented publicity stunt.

I can’t figure this out.

Yes, I’ve been wrong all along about the shelf life of a Trump presidential candidacy. In a normal election year, he would have been laughed off the stage and booted out of the race over any one of the many things he’s said along the way. Not this year.

I don’t feel too badly, though. Others have been just as wrong.

As long as many of us are speculating about what in the world is guiding the Trump campaign into the ditch, it’s fair to ask: Is this guy taking a dive?

Paging Dick Cheney … hello?

Vice President Dick Cheney, speaks at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Thursday, April 10, 2008, in Washington. Bush administration officials from Vice President Dick Cheney on down signed off on using harsh interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists after asking the Justice Department to endorse their legality, The Associated Press has learned. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Is it me or does anyone else wonder what’s become of Dick Cheney?

The former vice president — from 2001 to 2009 — has been so very quick since leaving office to jump back into the political fray. He’s been critical of President Obama’s foreign policy, of Vice President Joe Biden, and oh yes, of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Well, the Republicans have their nominee. Donald J. Trump — who appears to be a classic Republican In Name Only — is now doing political battle with Democratic nominee Clinton.

But wait a sec, man? Cheney’s been nowhere.

I think I might have a clue. It’s because two of his former bosses, President George W. Bush and President George H.W. Bush — whom Cheney served as defense secretary — can’t stomach Trump’s candidacy. They despise the man for the way he’s run for the presidency, not to mention for the way he brutalized John Ellis “Jeb” Bush — W’s brother and Poppy’s son — during the 2016 GOP primary.

Whatever, the Bush family’s loathing of Trump seems to have silenced a loyal Bush guy.

Don’t misunderstand me here. I don’t necessarily want to hear from the former vice president. It’s not that I find his political world view all that appealing.

I guess I’m just miffed that Dick Cheney’s silence had robbed me of some material on which to respond.

Take this veep job and shove it


It’s been said of vice presidents of the United States that their main responsibility is to keep a bag packed in case they have to attend some foreign dignitary’s funeral.

Sure, they’re next in line to the presidency, but until the past quarter-century or so they’ve been treated with far less respect than they deserve.

As the crusty Texan, the late Vice President John Nance “Cactus Jack” Garner once observed of the office — and this is the sanitized version of what he said — “It ain’t worth a bucket of warm spit.”

CNN commentator Jeff Greenfield has written an excellent essay that suggests that the vice presidency well might be relegated to its former inglorious status when the next president takes office in January 2017,

Here’s his essay: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/05/2016-election-vice-presidency-donald-trump-hillary-clinton-213886

His premise is a simple one?

The Republican Party’s presumed nominee, Donald J. Trump, possesses an ego so y-u-u-u-g-e that he isn’t likely to take seriously a single word of advice given to him by whomever he selects as vice president. And the Democrats’ probable nominee? Hillary Rodham Clinton would share the White House with a man — her husband, former President Bill Clinton — who would serve as her “Economy Czar” and who would provide all the political and strategic advice she’ll need.

What does that mean for the vice president?

Well, I doubt we’ll see anything like the way, for example, President Lyndon Baines Johnson treated Vice President Hubert Humphrey when he reportedly summoned HHH to his office and lectured him about something while sitting on a commode.

Someone once asked President Dwight Eisenhower about the duties he’d assigned Vice President Richard Nixon. Ike responded, “If you give me a week, I’ll think of something.”

The vice presidency, as Greenfield notes, has become a very important office.

The past three VPs have assumed vital roles in their respective administrations, according to Greenfield. Al Gore became a valuable advisor to President Clinton; Dick Cheney, many have argued, grabbed too much power while serving as No. 2 to President Bush; and Joe Biden has become President Obama’s senior advisor/father confessor.

As Greenfield writes: “None of this means the there’ll be a shortage of veep wannabees. A number of Republicans, especially those without (or soon to be without) an official public role, have already signaled their availability: Rick Perry, Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin. And it’s not hard to imagine that any number of Democrats would readily sign up, however challenging the job might be with Bill Clinton shuttling between East and West Wings.”

Well, at least the next VP will get to live in a nice house.