Former Vice President Cheney (R) spoke to a large group of House conservatives at the Capitol on Wednesday, denouncing President Obama's foreign policy and urging them to resist a rising tide of isolationism. Cheney attended the weekly meeting of the Republican Study Committee, a group of conservatives on which he served as a member of the House in the 1980s. The former vice president focused on foreign policy, touting the importance of U.S. leadership in the world while criticizing proposed cuts to the Pentagon budget. He received multiple ovations during a private discussion that lasted more than 90 minutes in the Capitol basement.
For a failed former official, Dick Cheney sure does spend a lot of time on Capitol Hill, telling lawmakers what he thinks they should do.
This wasn't a case in which Cheney was wandering the halls and members humored him as a courtesy. Rather, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the chair of the Republican Study Committee, invited the former vice president on purpose to address the 169-member group.
Scalise told The Hill, in reference to Cheney, "He's got a lot of credibility when it comes to talking about foreign policy."
Let's pause to note that if you see Dick Cheney as having a lot of credibility, perhaps a career in federal policymaking isn't for you.
As for the former VP himself, he said after the meeting with lawmakers, "The Obama administration is taking a lot of steps to diminish our influence and ability to affect the course of affairs. The cuts to the defense budget are outrageous."
As a rule, it's difficult to know whether Cheney actually believes his own rhetoric, but in this case, his ongoing complaints about Pentagon budget cuts are literally unbelievable.
It's really not that complicated. As we talked about in February, the cuts the Obama administration proposed still means higher defense spending than the levels required by the sequestration policy demanded by congressional Republicans in 2011. (The irony is, the cuts Cheney condemned yesterday were made possible by the same lawmakers he was complaining to.)
As Rachel explained on the show after the cuts were first proposed, "This got headlined today as the Pentagon proposing 'huge new cuts to the military.' What actually happened today is the Pentagon fighting Congress so they don't get cut so much."
We can also go one step further and note that Cheney, during his tenure as the Defense Secretary in the Bush/Quayle administration, demanded even larger cuts to the Pentagon budget, far beyond anything the Obama administration is pursuing now.
At that time, Cheney told Congress, "The only way I know to cut the budget is to cut the budget."
Is it too late for House Republicans to rethink the whole "Cheney has a lot of credibility" line?
Honestly, the collective memory loss on display is a sight to behold. Donald Rumsfeld is still running around giving advice and being sought after by Republican presidential candidates; Condoleezza Rice is lecturing Americans on how annoyed she is by our "war weariness"; George W. Bush felt compelled to write a book sharing his "strategies for economic growth"; and Dick Cheney's foreign-policy guidance has been sought out by members of Congress over and over again.
Stick it in a time capsule; future generations won't believe it.