It struck me as amusing last week when former Vice President Dick Cheney, complaining about proposed measures to reduce gun violence, complained there “isn’t adequate regard for the rights of law-abiding citizens.” Given Cheney’s track record while in office, it seemed like an odd thing to say.
But these remarks from the weekend were even more striking.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Saturday night that President Barack Obama has jeopardized U.S. national security by nominating substandard candidates for key cabinet posts and by degrading the U.S. military.
“The performance now of Barack Obama as he staffs up the national security team for the second term is dismal,” Cheney said in comments to about 300 members of the Wyoming Republican Party.
Cheney, a Wyoming native, said it was vital to the nation’s national security that “good folks” hold the positions of secretary of state, CIA director and secretary of defense. “Frankly, what he has appointed are second-rate people,” he said.
There is a certain oddity that underpins Cheney’s whining. For many political observers, the fact that so many national security policies from the Bush/Cheney era are still in place is cause for alarm, though Cheney himself seems eager to suggest this administration has departed radically from his predecessor.
But really, that’s just scratching the surface of what’s wrong with Cheney’s odd perspective.
Whether you agree with their positions or not, there’s nothing even remotely “second rate” about John Kerry, Chuck Hagel, and John Brennan. These are experienced, capable individuals, with considerable expertise in their areas. Indeed, Kerry has a broad diplomatic background and was very nearly the president; Hagel is a decorated veteran and sage voice on the use of force (Cheney never got around to serving in the military before becoming the Pentagon chief); and Brennan actually served in the Bush/Cheney administration.
If the former V.P. has specific complaints about these nominees, I’d love to hear them.
But the real kicker here is Cheney’s confidence in his ability to make personnel assessments. Obama’s team, in Cheney’s mind, is “second rate,” but his team – filled with notorious names like Rumsfeld, Addington, and Libby – which oversaw some of the most spectacular failures in recent memory, was top tier?