Dick Cheney actually could have been worse in the interview the former vice president and noted reprobate gave to John King of CNN. I thought there were a couple occasions where he either gave some credit to the Obama administration or acknowledged something the press seems to have a hard time wrapping its head around: that Obama won the election in November and therefore is justified in implementing the policies he campaigned on:
"And obviously, they won the election. He's the president of the United States. He gets to put forward the program he wants. ...
" ... So from the standpoint of what the Obama administration is trying to do, I can't argue that they should pace it or anything like that. I think that's -- those are all tactical calls they have got to make."
That's basically consistent with Cheney's view that the president should be able to do pretty much whatever the F he wants. Hey, at least it's a consistent application of principle, something very much lacking among today's conservatives. So credit where it's due.
Some of the more egregious stuff Cheney said came in response to leading questions from King, the most ridiculous of which was this:
"It’s the conservative weekly Human Events. And in the lead article this week, they call it Obama’s brazen deception to sell agenda. Essentially the point you just made, that they have, under the umbrella of an economic crisis, you must support us, there is urgency to act now, that they are putting, in this newspaper’s view, a lot of items like health care, like the environment, other priorities and saying, we have to do this all now. Is the president of the United States trying to brazenly deceive the American people?"
And so Cheney gives a mostly predictable response and says we should be fixing the economy with tax cuts, because obviously that's the best way to contain the runaway deficit Republicans are suddenly so concerned about: Reduce government revenues even further.
This question neatly illustrates the intractable thick-headedness of John King. Obama ran, with a couple exceptions, an unabashedly liberal campaign for president -- one that included a proposed overhaul of the country's health care system and promised to transform U.S. energy and environmental policy, establishing actual regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as opposed to the voluntary-reduction nonsense the Bush administration peddled -- and he won convincingly. There's no bait-and-switch here.
Furthermore, it's not as if Obama set out to spend billions to stimulate the economy, although that's what some conspiracy theorists on the right are now saying. (My guess on the correlation between holding this view and also believing Obama was not born in the United States? About 80 percent.) Circumstances forced Obama to respond to the crisis according to his economic principles, which are basically Keynesian. Interestingly enough, Human Events lists Keynes' "General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money" as the 10th-most harmful book of the 19th and 20th century. More on this later today when I update this post.
What's interesting is how some conservatives have begun to hit Obama with a criticism that reads like an inversion a misguided interpretation of Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine," which espouses the notion that governments and economic elites use crises to ram through undemocratic policies that the public would otherwise find unpalatable.
And, of course, it's deeply ironic that Cheney would accuse of Obama of exploiting a crisis to expand federal authority or otherwise push his agenda because the Bush administration used the catastrophe that was 9/11 to commence arguably the most radical expansion of the power of the executive branch in U.S. history; mislead the nation into a war that's cost $657 billion (according to King), killed 4,200 U.S. troops and maimed many more; eavesdrop on the communications of U.S. citizens to such an extent that, in reaction to programs the public still hasn't learned the nature of, John Ashcroft of all people threatened to resign as attorney general; torture military prisoners; defy the Geneva Convention and deny foreign detainees the right of habeas corpus; and issue terror alerts whenever the public started to get restless. The balls on this guy.
Anyway, there's lot of other stuff in the interview that I could comment on. His remarks on Rush Limbaugh, for instance: "Rush is a good friend. I love him. I think he does great work and has for years. ... I think Rush is a good man and serves a very important purpose." (He serves an important purpose, all right.) But I'll leave it here.
UPDATE: Rather than update this post I'm going to start a new one shortly following up on Human Events etc.