Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney attends a birthday celebration held in honor of Ronald Reagan at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library February 6, 2011 in Simi Valley, California.
ERIC THAYER/Reuters

Cheney to public: Be afraid; be very afraid

Updated
For Americans who’d forgotten what shameless fear mongering sounds like, a certain former vice president offered a timely reminder.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney offered an extremely morose prediction about the country’s future on Tuesday.
 
Asked on the Hugh Hewitt radio show whether he believes the United States could survive the decade without another attack on the homeland, Cheney said, “I doubt it.”
Cheney specifically told the conservative host, “I think there will be another attack and next time, I think it’s likely to be far deadlier than the last one. Imagine what would happen if somebody could smuggle a nuclear device, put it in a shipping container and drive it down the Beltway outside Washington, D.C.”
 
The former V.P. also talked about preparations to keep the government intact “if we’re having nuclear weapons from the Soviet Union falling all over the country.”
 
Note that Cheney’s speculation wasn’t based on classified information or recent intelligence prepared by national-security agencies. This was the former vice president simply trying to scare the bejesus out of the audience based on his personal hunches – because you know how strong his track record has been when it comes to terrorism and guesswork.
 
It’s easy to lose sight of just how important fear has been to Cheney whenever he’s tried to persuade the public about his vision for the U.S. role in the world. Americans are unsure whether to launch an unnecessary war in Iraq? Be afraid, Cheney says while talking up 9/11 and mushroom clouds.
 
Americans are concerned about the morality and legality of torture? Be afraid, Cheney says, insisting that “enhanced interrogation” is necessary to keep Americans safe.
 
Americans agree with President Obama’s approach to foreign policy? Be afraid, Cheney says once more, raising the prospect of an attack “far deadlier” than 9/11.
 
The assumption seems to be that if the public is terrified, Americans might be more amenable to Cheney’s national-security agenda – an agenda that even George W. Bush had no use for towards their end of their second term – which would mean turning from Obama’s more popular, sensible approach.
 
That this is practically the definition of demagoguery doesn’t seem to bother him because, well, he’s Dick Cheney.
 
Tom Kludt, meanwhile, noted that Cheney was on “Fox & Friends” this morning, where the cast seemed almost desperate to hear the former V.P. repeat the scary talking points.
Elisabeth Hasselbeck was the first of the three co-hosts to try and lure Cheney to envisage another day of infamy. “Are you indicating in effect that we could be on track for something worse than 9/11?” Hasselbeck asked.
 
But this time, Cheney lacked the certitude he possessed in his interview with Hewitt. “I think that’s a possibility,” he offered. “You know, I can’t say, specifically, at this point when something like that might happen. But it would be foolish for us to ignore the extent to which there are people, terror-sponsoring states, who have in fact tried to provide nuclear technology.”
 
Next up was Steve Doocy, whose set-up for Cheney harkened back to the days when the Iraq War’s boosters defended the occupation by insisting that it was better to fight the evildoers over “there than here.”
 
“And your worry is even though that what’s going on with Iraq is way over there that they bring it here because a lot of those people, the terrorists, have American passports,” Doocy said. “You know, in a couple of months one of them could be walking in front of our building with some sort of gizmo to wreak havoc.”
Cheney hedged, apparently reluctant to repeat yesterday’s message.
 
Congratulations, “Fox & Friends,” even Dick Cheney now shows more restraint than you do.
 

Counter-Terrorism, Dick Cheney and War On Terror

Cheney to public: Be afraid; be very afraid

Updated