Former Vice President Dick Cheney won’t shut up although a few members of his party privately wish that he would.
“The fact that most people want to talk [without attribution] shows what a problem it continues to be,” said one Republican strategist who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to be candid. “Cheney continues to be a force among many members of our base, and while he is entirely unhelpful, no one has the standing to show him the door.”
Another GOP strategist, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, pointed out the conundrum for Republicans over the former vice president’s current role. “Even if he’s right, he’s absolutely the wrong messenger,” this strategist said. His main worry, he added, is that Cheney keeps the public focused on the past, rather than the future. “We want Bush to be a very distant memory in the next election. The more Cheney is on the front burner, the more difficult it’s going to be.”
The Democrats dig it.
“He’s perfectly entitled to make his case, and given that Dick Cheney is as popular as Britney Spears at a Sunday school teacher convention, we hope he continues to be the face of the Republican Party,” said Hari Sevugan, national press secretary for the Democratic National Committee. “His continued presence reminds people that the GOP is unwilling to put forward new ideas or leadership, and so long as he continues to be the voice of the Republican cause, he ensures that the Republican Party will remain the party of the past.”
Joan Walsh at Salon thinks it’s a double-edged sword:
Clearly Cheney is legitimizing the worst sort of attacks on Obama, and he’s been doing it from Day One, by insisting Obama is making the country less safe. That’s despicable. (To be clear, he has every right to say anything he wants, and I have every right to call it despicable.) His decision to declare open season on Obama strengthens the hand of conservative crazies who think they can get away with obstruction and sabotage.
So I think he’s hurting both parties, because he’s trying to make cooperation and compromise impossible. Thanks to Cheney, we are embroiled in two wars, one of them unnecessary, both of them possibly unwinnable. Imagine if Republicans thought it was important to try to extend a hand to a new president who is leading the country through one of its worst crises in history.
I don’t think the GOP really cares whether or not there is cooperation or compromise given their childish behavior of late. But if they’re at all curious as to why good people despise the Republicans and are leaving the party in droves, this is why.