Thursday, December 31, 2009

Shut Up, He Explained

It had to happen that former Vice President Dick Cheney would shoot off his mouth (as opposed to someone else’s face) about the undie bomber, and true to form, he let fly the other day with more of his bellicosity, accusing President Obama of “pretending we’re not at war” with terrorism. While that claim is demonstrably false, Mr. Cheney apparently thinks that the way to stop terrorism is to go all butch and brag on yourself.

There’s apparently an expectation that the president can — and probably should — exploit incidents for as much political gain as possible. So, for example, when U.S. forces, acting on the president’s orders, successfully took out Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, the ringleader of a Qaeda cell in Kenya and one of the most wanted Islamic militants in Africa, the president should appear before the cameras and explain, “Hey, look at me! I took out one of the world’s most dangerous terrorists!” When U.S. forces, acting on the president’s orders, killed Baitullah Mehsud, the terrorist leader of the Taliban movement Pakistan, Obama should assemble reporters to declare, “Booyah! Who’s da man?”

When the Obama administration took suspected terrorists Najibullah Zazi, Talib Islam, and Hosam Maher Husein Smadi into custody before they could launch their planned attacks, each and every instance requires its own press conference, in which the president can proclaim, “Republicans’ talk is cheap; I’m the one keeping Americans safe.”

That’s obviously not Mr. Obama’s style; after all, he’s not twelve years old. But the White House did respond to Mr. Cheney yesterday with a blog posting by Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer that pretty much takes it right back to the former vice president.

To put it simply: this President is not interested in bellicose rhetoric, he is focused on action. Seven years of bellicose rhetoric failed to reduce the threat from al Qaeda and succeeded in dividing this country. And it seems strangely off-key now, at a time when our country is under attack, for the architect of those policies to be attacking the President.

As for the “not at war” line, he put it very neatly:

There are numerous other such public statements that explicitly state we are at war. The difference is this: President Obama doesn’t need to beat his chest to prove it, and — unlike the last Administration — we are not at war with a tactic (“terrorism”), we at war with something that is tangible: al Qaeda and its violent extremist allies. And we will prosecute that war as long as the American people are endangered.

I have to admire Mr. Pfeiffer for his restraint. Had it been me, I would have told Mr. Cheney to STFU.

HT to Steve.