by Chris Bodenner
The full speech is here. Townhall rounded up YouTube highlights and Josh Marshall summed up in Tweet form. Andrew's reaction is here. As a follow-up to my post featuring Kristol and Roth, here's some more key commentary:
The speech was striking in its lack of anything new or compelling. ... Looking at counter-terrorism as a law-enforcement matter is a mistake; Obama, Democrats, and the New York Times are putting us at risk; except for all of the spectacular failures, Cheney's approach to national security was effective; torture is good, but releasing torture memos is bad; the rule of law is "an elaborate legal proceeding"; Obama is only worried about impressing Europe; and someday, historians will agree that Bush/Cheney was just terrific.
Cheney talks about the run-up to 9/11, the events of 9/11, where he was on 9/11 (”I’ll freely admit that watching a coordinated, devastating attack on our country from an underground bunker at the White House can affect how you view your responsibilities”), ... the threat of a “9/11 with nuclear weapons,” and how the administration prevented another 9/11. In all, he mentions “September 11? or “9/11? 25 times.
HuffPo's Allison Kilkenny:
Cheney went on to mock Obama's philosophy of compromise. "In the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half exposed." Again, I find myself in the odd position of agreeing with Cheney. When it comes to torture, there is no middle ground and there is no such thing as a little torture. It's always wrong, and those that torture and allowed torture should be prosecuted.
One key moment from the [speech]: He called on Obama to use his presidential powers to declassify the intelligence that Cheney says will prove torture worked, ensuring that this debate will continue. ... It’s kind of remarkable that in a speech that spent so much time attacking Obama as dangerous for our country Cheney also asked Obama for help in salvaging his legacy.
A serious, important speech. Politicians and the media seem unduly impressed by favorability polls, often drawing unwarranted conclusions from them. Since Cheney has relatively high unfavorables, it's assumed that the public dismisses his statements. It would be interesting to see the results of a more finely calibrated poll, one that compares how well-respected, competent, and effective the subject is perceived to be relative to similarly situated individuals. As a friend succinctly puts it, "When that big asteroid finally heads toward Earth, who's the person you'd most want to be in charge?" I suspect Cheney would score at or near the top.
But in a nutshell, the Cheney argument is, "it worked." And when he notes that after 9/11, the administration and all of the various government agencies managed to prevent another attack on American soil for 2,689 days, it's a rather illuminating figure. ... If there is another successful and terrible terror attack, either on U.S. soil or on a U.S. target abroad, the immediate moment will be too terrible to hear the words "I told you so." But if, God forbid, that day comes, we will know that indeed Dick Cheney did tell us so.