Why the White House Welcomes Cheney's Fire

Obama's strongest-polling issue? Terrorism

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There's plenty of tit-for-tat political entertainment in watching Dick Cheney and Vice President Biden square off over national security. Cheney rebuked Biden's achievements in Iraq, Biden rebuked Cheney's "misinformed or misinforming" sense of history. We'll let the video clips of their dueling Sunday talk-show appearances speak for themselves:

After the rumble, Washington analysts are making a somewhat surprising conclusion. For the moment at least, national security debates are good for the White House. Given strong poll numbers and the potential for a Cheney assault to backfire, the Obama administration welcomes Cheney scuffles. The GOP, meanwhile, continues to hammer Obama on national security, spurring argument over whether the Christmas bomber should be handled as a terrorist or criminal.

  • Cheney Makes a Great Foil, writes James Hohmann at Politico. The White House likes the Cheney debates, Hohmann argues. Not only are Obama's poll numbers strongest on terrorism, he writes, but Cheney makes a "particularly appealing foil" because responding to his criticism "allows the administration to compare its policies against the most unpopular member of the Bush team."
  • Reminds Voters of Bush, writes Chris Cillizza for The Washington Post. "While today's coverage is sure to focus on the Cheney versus Biden dynamic, the underlying debate is a good one for the White House for two reasons." The first reason Cillizza cites is Obama's strong poll numbers on handling terrorism. The second reason, he argues, is that the more Cheney talks, the more independent voters "are reminded about what they didn't like about the last administration."
  • ...But Reminds Voters of Conservative Strength, writes Nile Gardiner at The Daily Telegraph. A conservative, Gardiner is inspired by Cheney's "blistering" attack. He is reminded of what Cheney has that Obama lacks: "In contrast to the current occupant of the White House, Cheney firmly believes the West is engaged in an epic global war against a vicious, Islamist enemy...Dick Cheney is a refreshingly forceful advocate of American exceptionalism, and the idea that the United States is a special country with a unique role to play in shaping history... Perhaps most strikingly, Dick Cheney, like Ronald Reagan before him and in complete contrast to Barack Obama, views the world in terms of good and evil."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.