Dick Cheney- Corporate Criminal


Did Cheney Go Too Far?

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Monday, August 14, 2006; 1:36 PM

By insinuating that the sizeable majority of American voters who oppose the war in Iraq are aiding and abetting the enemy, Vice President Cheney on Wednesday may have crossed the line that separates legitimate political discourse from hysteria.

Cheney's comments came in a highly unusual conference call with reporters, part of an extensively orchestrated and largely successful Republican effort to spin the obviously anti-Bush message of Ned Lamont's victory over presidential enabler Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut Democratic Senate primary.

In making the case that Lieberman's defeat was actually an enormous boost for Republicans, the customarily furtive vice president let loose not with compelling argument, but unsupported invective.

Voters who supported Lamont's antiwar campaign in the Democratic primary were giving "the Al Qaeda types" exactly what they wanted, Cheney said. And as a result the Democratic Party, he asserted, now stands for a wholesale retreat in the broader campaign against terror.

Liz Sidoti writes for the Associated Press: "Senate Democratic leaders on Friday accused Vice President Dick Cheney of playing politics with terrorism and contended that voters won't buy Republican arguments that the GOP is stronger on national security.

" 'They've run this play one too many times,' Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in a conference call with reporters. 'The American people simply do not recognize any validity in what they're saying.' "

Olivier Knox writes for AFP: "While some Democrats have opposed some steps in the war on terrorism, and more and more are calling for a withdrawal from Iraq, no major figures in the party have called for a wholesale retreat in the broader conflict touched off by the September 11, 2001 attacks."

Ken Herman points out in his blog for Cox News Service: "The White House's Wednesday attack on Democrats as weaklings in the war on terror came as administration officials knew of the pending British arrests of terror suspects who allegedly planned to down several planes. . . .

"The White House and the GOP, in a coordinated effort, had moved quickly on Wednesday to portray Democrats as weak on national defense. Cheney, in an extraordinary procedure, took questions from wire service reporters during a conference call as he was in Wyoming. Cheney rarely, if ever, takes questions from groups of reporters."

Evan Thomas writes in Newsweek: "White House aides insisted that Cheney was not trying to exploit the latest terror plot for political advantage."

Cheney had been briefed on the plot, but the aides "claimed that at the time he spoke, he was unaware that arrests were imminent. Even so, these officials were somewhat hard put to explain why the normally press-shy Cheney volunteered to talk to wire reporters and offer his analysis on the national-security implications of a Lamont victory."

E.J. Dionne Jr. writes in his Washington Post opinion column: "In a telephone call with journalists, Vice President Cheney came close to suggesting that there is a new political blog out there called 'al-Qaeda for Ned.' His words have not received nearly the attention they deserve."

Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy writes in a Hartford Courant op-ed: "Vice presidents are notorious for serving as an administration's chief attack dog, and time and again Dick Cheney has been unleashed to accuse anyone who is opposed to the Bush administration of aiding the terrorists. But this time he has gone too far.

"The comments he made on the result of the Connecticut Democratic primary -- that it might encourage 'the al-Qaida types' who want to 'break the will of the American people in terms of our ability to stay in the fight and complete the task' -- are an attack not just on Democrats, but on democracy itself.

"What happened in Connecticut is in fact a model for democracies everywhere. The people of the state heard a vigorous debate between two competing visions of how to protect this country. Young citizens became deeply involved, and turnout was high. The primary reminded us of the miracle of our democracy, in which the nation is ruled by its people -- not by any entrenched set of leaders. There are few better messages we could send the world in these troubled times."

Arianna Huffington writes on her blog that "to hear Dick Cheney and company using illogical, over-the-top, fear-mongering rhetoric conflating Ned Lamont's victory with the war on terror is as deeply offensive as it is jaw-droppingly outrageous. . . .

"It would help if the MSM reacted to the GOP drivel by treating it with the contempt it deserves instead of dutifully reporting it as if it contained even an ounce of logic or sanity."

On the Editorial Pages

The Philadelphia Daily News writes: "For Cheney -- and other Republicans like GOP National Chairman Ken Mehlman -- to suggest that those Americans are encouraging terrorism is reprehensible. . . .

"To exploit a very real terror threat that could have led to major casualties, and to even indirectly implicate Americans who were exercising their democratic right by going to the polls and making a choice borders on the criminal, to say nothing of the insane.

"Has Cheney completely lost it?"

The Trenton Times writes: "Leave it to Vice President Dick Cheney to turn the results of a fair and honest election into some kind of sinister scenario. . . .

"Actually, comments such as the above are more of a sad reflection on the state of the Bush-Cheney administration, which just doesn't get it. Americans are fed up with the war in Iraq, from the false pretense for going to war to the tragically inept handling of the effort after the fall of Baghdad. Meantime, terrorist groups continue to prowl and plot, as evidenced by last week's arrest of 24 terror suspects in London, while this country spends enormous resources and sheds the blood of so many brave Americans in a war that has no end in sight."

The Minneapolis Star Tribune writes: "It's bizarre enough that a sitting vice president would decide to meddle in the politics of the opposition party and try to tell Democrats how to choose their own candidate for U.S. Senate. But it's downright outrageous that Cheney would yet again try to draw misleading parallels between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaida. Time and again White House officials have backed off that assertion when challenged frontally -- only to find some new way to insinuate it again a day or a week later."

The Berkshire (Mass.) Eagle writes: "Six years into the Bush-Cheney era, no one should be surprised at the levels the vice president can reduce himself to in his unending efforts to smear his political foes. Yet, he continually comes up with new approaches. . . .

"The shameful smears of patriotic American voters by Mr. Cheney and White House apologists like Mr. Lieberman can't disguise how utterly they and their ilk have failed America. Their unspoken fear is that America is finally on to them."


One reaction to Cheney's comments was to simply write them off as irrelevant.

Senator Hillary Clinton told WNYC radio : "I don't take anything he says seriously anymore."

I'm not a Washington Post political reporter, but Jonathan Weisman is, and here's what he had to say in a Live Online discussion last week:

"Medford, Mass.: Exactly how is it that our sitting Vice President can get away with saying basically that people who exercised their constitutional right to vote for change (ie: Conn. primary) are helping terrorists? How is this not the headline of a story, instead of a footnote?

"Jonathan Weisman: The vice president also said the insurgency in Iraq is in its death throes, and that U.S. troops would be greeted as liberators. I'm afraid to say his utterances are losing their news value."

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