Look who’s rehabilitating!

posted at 11:38 am on May 26, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Andrew Malcolm notices an interesting result from the latest CNN poll, one which CNN itself hesitates to note.  Since going on the offensive against a popular new president, former VP Dick Cheney has improved his favorability rating, and perhaps that of his former boss as well:

The more former Vice President Dick Cheney criticizes the Obama administration for drastically changing the national security policies of the Bush administration, the more popular Cheney seems to become among some Americans. …

[A] little-noticed new CNN/Opinion Research poll released the other day shows Cheney’s favorable ratings have jumped by more than a quarter since last winter.

And this May poll of 1,010 adults was taken before his widely viewed speech to the American Enterprise Institute that further assaulted President Obama’s policies for threatening U.S. national security.

Cheney has rapidly improved his standing, from a low point of 29% to 37%, a gain in terms of ratio of more than 27% in just four months.  Bush improved from 35% to 41%.   Of course, as Andrew points out, he’s still seen unfavorably by a majority of Americans (55%), and so is Bush (57%).  It seems that the undecideds have begun to break back in favor of both, perhaps garnering some better support from previously disaffected Republicans and a few independents.

When Cheney first began pushing back against Barack Obama’s repeated and scornful assessments of the Bush administration, most analysts figured that Cheney was tilting at windmills — and that the GOP needed to distance themselves from Cheney.  The rapid re-evaluation appears to have made hash of that advice.  If Cheney — a politician as unpopular as Richard Nixon — could strengthen his standing by demanding an honest debate from the President, then perhaps other Republicans should be following suit.  Obama may have a large font of personal popularity among the electorate, but Cheney’s taking his national-security policy stands apart, mostly because he seems to be the only Republican willing to do it.

I’d prefer that fresh Republican leadership take that role, as I wrote earlier this year, but in the absence of any such leadership, Cheney appears to be doing an effective job.  How effective?  E.J. Dionne reported this weekend that Obama now has to hold dual briefings to convince the center-right that he’s just as tough as Cheney on Guantanamo:

Last Thursday afternoon, for example, the White House invited in journalists, mostly opinion writers, to sell them on the substance of the president’s big speech on Guantanamo and the treatment of detainees.

Unbeknown to the writers until afterward, they had been divided into two groups, one more centrist with a sprinkling of moderate conservatives, the other more liberal. (I was in the liberal group.) The president made an unscheduled appearance at each briefing. As is his way, he charmed both groups.

The idea, as far as I can determine, was to sell the liberal group on those aspects of Obama’s plan that are a break from George W. Bush’s policies, and to sell the centrist group on the toughness of the president’s approach and the fact that it squares with Bush’s more moderate moves later in his second term.

Dionne believes that Cheney “helped” Obama with his speech at AEI that day criticizing Obama on his national-security policies, but the very existence of the dual briefings shows that Cheney is drawing blood in this debate.  It also calls into question the honesty of Obama.  Why make two different cases simultaneously, telling one group that he’s abandoning Bush’ policies and the other that he is not?  Does Dionne believe that builds Obama’s credibility, or undermine it?

Cheney isn’t making two different and nearly mutually exclusive cases.  Right or wrong, Cheney’s only talking out of one side of his mouth.  The fact that Obama has to talk out of both sides, rather than simply make a cogent and consistent argument to all Americans, shows that Cheney has pushed him out of his comfort zone, and Obama’s flailing in response.


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A majority of Americans will, in the course of this dismal presidency, realize that Bush and Cheney led the country as responsible adults who knew how to swim well enough before they were thrown in the deep end. Obama and his enablers are drowning in inexperience, their political ideologies smashing like bugs on a windshield in their surprised encounters with reality.

Incidentally, Liz Cheney is a revelation, especially when compared to McCain’s airhead daughter. As Rush has noted, Ms. Cheney put on a clinic for other conservatives on how to respond to liberal interviewers on television last week. I’d suggest that she run for Congress, but that would limit her face time on CNN, where she eviscerates her stupefied opponents.

Buckleyite on May 26, 2009 at 12:53 PM

Another point that’s probably in a lot of minds, but I haven’t seen expressed clearly in the comments, is the obvious point of credibility. When Obama criticized the Bush admin on torture, etc. Cheney is the best guy to stand up and say “Wait a minute bub, I was there.” That was why he was so effective when Obama tried to float those torture memos to buttress his position: Cheney called him out, said he’d seen other memos on the topic and wanted them released too.

Congressman Smith or 3rd assistant to one of the Cabinet secretaries would have lacked either the access or the national recognition/credibility to deliver the smackdown Cheney delivered. Fun to watch, too.

cs89 on May 26, 2009 at 12:54 PM

Think of it this way, upinak: Cheney has served his country. Under any other new president, that would’ve been sufficient. But Obama went after him, so now Cheney’s standing up for himself and everyone who served with him. He’s succeeding in that role. Asking more of him at this point seems premature.

Jim Treacher on May 26, 2009 at 12:44 PM

Ahh very true Treacher. It seems though that it is going beyond just standing up for himself. He is doing it for all of America!

upinak on May 26, 2009 at 12:58 PM

Dick Cheney is a great man, an American hero as far as I’m concerned. But I hope he stays in his “nothing to lose” position and counter-attacks those who attack his record and his strategies. And attacks the Marxist tendencies/goals of Obama’s administration. He is very good at it.
One of the things that is very damaging to Gingrich’s credibility is that we are not really sure if he says these things because he wants to help America, or just because he wants to be President. Until Gingrich declines publically to run, I don’t trust him.

Christian Conservative on May 26, 2009 at 1:01 PM

Telling the truth, plainly and simply, has set a liar back on his heels. Who woulda thunk it?

Jim Treacher on May 26, 2009 at 12:33 PM

Yes–we can only hope a few other Republicans get a clue and also start doing this.

INC on May 26, 2009 at 1:04 PM

You only need to present differing cases when you’re launching a con with your marks. Cheney doesn’t have to tailor his position to his audience or be “charming” because he is speaking the truth and Americans can hear it.

I’ll bet the CIA are secretly cheering him on because he is the only one who seems to have the guts to defend them.

inmypajamas on May 26, 2009 at 1:15 PM

I don’t want to rehash or live in the past but the last eight years have been the worst in the history of man. Bush and Cheney are outlaws that should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and we should make up some new laws that we can retroactively charge them with incase we find out that their criminal activities were the only sane way to deal with real life solutions. That and 95% of you are currently receiving new tax cuts, so you have that going for you. Hey, all you Navy guys, put down those knives.

2Tru2Tru on May 26, 2009 at 1:17 PM

I don’t want to rehash or live in the past but the last eight years have been the worst in the history of man. Bush and Cheney are outlaws that should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and we should make up some new laws that we can retroactively charge them with incase we find out that their criminal activities were the only sane way to deal with real life solutions. That and 95% of you are currently receiving new tax cuts, so you have that going for you. Hey, all you Navy guys, put down those knives.

2Tru2Tru on May 26, 2009 at 1:17 PM

a sarc tag would be a good idea.

upinak on May 26, 2009 at 1:20 PM

new tax cuts? are you kidding?

so now that bambi broke the treasury, 2tru2tru, you expect the $13/mo to continue?

this is 3d grade math.

kelley in virginia on May 26, 2009 at 1:27 PM

and ps, i love, love dick cheney.

kelley in virginia on May 26, 2009 at 1:27 PM

I don’t know whose idea it was to keep Cheney off the big stage during Bush’s last term, but it was a bad idea. He is a formidable debater with tons of background and he oozes gravitas. Putting a muzzle on him only encouraged the nutroots. The donks have no one who comes close to matching him.

a capella on May 26, 2009 at 11:49 AM

Whoever tried to “keep Cheney off the big stage during Bush’s last term” was probably the same person who fed Scott Duh McClellan to the ravenous wolves of the White House press corps, gave us Harriet Miers for SCOTUS, and was totally tone-deaf on Katrina. Even when there was plenty of evidence to rebut the “no WMD’s in Iraq” meme in Saddam’s archives, nobody bothered to translate them and put the evidence squarely under the noses of the lying press. Without rebuttal, people believe the liars.

Cheney IS an excellent debater. After Bush had flubbed the first debate with Kerry and trailed in the polls, Cheney cleaned John Edwards’ clock in the VP debate, and Bush immediately surged ahead in polls after the VP debate. Perhaps some of the Bush PR people feared the repetition of the Cheney / Halliburton canard, but Cheney is probably the best communicator in the Bush Administration, with the possible exception of Tony Snow, for his regrettably brief time in the White House.

Since Cheney chose not to run in 2008, he is now a man with nothing to lose and a solid record to defend, and the brains to defend it. He’s one Republican with the courage to defend what he did, and give courage to the others hiding under their desks–it’s safe to come out now!

Does anyone else besides myself think that Cheney is gearing up for the Presidentual run?

upinak on May 26, 2009 at 11:47 AM

It may be a little early for that, and you don’t win elections with a 37% approval rating. But stranger things have happened–Barry Goldwater only got 36% in 1964, and Ronald Reagan ran on his ideas and won two landslides. Sometimes it’s a question of the time being right for a given candidate or his ideas.

But Cheney might become the leader, mentor, and kingmaker of the Republican party–he has the experience and brains to articulate intelligent positions on many issues, and after four years of Obama, could become the “adult in the room” that can offer “change we can REALLY believe in”.

He’s not very charismatic, but what if he was paired up with your favorite Governor, UpInAK?

Steve Z on May 26, 2009 at 1:28 PM

Yes, I am kidding, sheesh, we all better work on our sarc skills, in the future it will be the only way to communicate effectively, without going to jail.

2Tru2Tru on May 26, 2009 at 1:51 PM

Cheney’s desire to have an honest debate is what’s really swinging the tide. At heart, Americans just want people to get a fair shake. And more and more, they’re coming to realize that for whatever reason, Bush and Cheney got a raw deal from the press, and from the opposition party.

That’s what happens when people start to re-examine their beliefs. Obama’s constant babbling about needing to see all sides of every issue may end up having some unintended consequences. The fact that he, a vocal critic of Bush’s policies, is having to continue them is a very clear sign to some folks that maybe Bush wasn’t so evil after all.

hawksruleva on May 26, 2009 at 1:53 PM

Does anyone else besides myself think that Cheney is gearing up for the Presidentual run?

upinak on May 26, 2009 at 11:47 AM

Nope. Well, at least not if he thinks there’s one person in the GOP who could really carry the banner instead of him. But I do think he’d run if he doesn’t see any real choices in the GOP field.

hawksruleva on May 26, 2009 at 1:54 PM

Liz Cheney was just on Fox, great speaker… Go LIZ, GO DICK CHENEY!!

reshas1 on May 26, 2009 at 1:56 PM

Dick Cheney – American, hero, true grit and the David of the Obaliath.

Hening on May 26, 2009 at 2:17 PM

What Dick Cheney said made sense. What Barack Obama said was nuts.

That is why Cheney is winning this public debate!

For example, if Mr. Obama is correct — that the very continued existence of Gitmo is a recruiting tool for extreme Islamist organizations — then how is it that al-Qaeda in Iraq has been so thoroughly routed, especially since 2006?

But, hey, don’t take my word for it.

Take the word of the expert, the Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, who very recently said in an interview with Tavis Smalley:

“even with the violence over the last couple of weeks, the level of violence in Iraq is dramatically lower than it has been really from a year ago or from six months ago or anytime since 2004.

So I think that our commanders see these as isolated incidents. We’ve always said that al Qaeda retains the lingering capacity to try and have these spectacular events, but in terms of sectarian violence or broader violence of Iraqis against Iraqis, the levels of violence are really at their lowest level since 2003, 2004.

If recruitment is so good, why are they losing so badly?

Incidentally, Gates specifically attributed that recent uptick in violence in Iraq to local elections, saying that,

it’s more tied to trying to counter the positive aspects of the provincial elections and I think these are still localized attacks.

And if Obama is correct that the limited use of waterboarding on a few key top-level Islamist operatives a few years back continues to operate as a powerful recruitment tool for terror organizations, then how come we have not seen any successful attacks in this country or on United States interests since 9/11?

Consider this exchange from the interview with the Secretary of Defense:

MR. SMILEY: Speaking of being attacked at home, there are many who argue it’s not a matter of if, but when. Do you share that view no matter what we try to do to stop that, do you share that opinion?

SEC. GATES: Well, I don’t believe in inevitability. I believe that if you had asked nearly all Americans on September 12th, 2001, seven and a half years later — do you think there will have been another terrorist attack, 99 percent of people would have said, of course. But here we are seven and a half years later and there has not been another successful attack. The fact is though that there have been a number of plots that have been disrupted, both here and overseas, people planning, people conspiring to do these things, so we’ve seen enormous improvements in law enforcement and intelligence and cooperation and sharing of information, both internally in the United States and with other countries.

The threat is always out there. We have to be aggressive in taking it on, but I don’t think there is — I personally do not believe in inevitability in history.

Wasn’t Dick Cheney’s point that from a few key bits of intelligence that we were able to garner from a few key operatives, i.e., Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, we were able to disrupt a few key plots and even turn a few would-be terrorists, whose ongoing participation in terror plots could have ultimately resulted in the deaths of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of Americans?

Why is the Obama Administration refusing to release the two documents that Cheney requested be de-classified? As Stephen Hayes aptly points out therein, the heavily-redacted documents the Administration did release, were no doubt the subject of Amnesty International’s FOIA request as well . . . why weren’t they blocked by the same “technicality” used to block the Cheney request?

The American people are not stupid. They can see what is going on, and follow the public debate. And they do not like what they’re hearing from Obama.

Good for you Dick Cheney! Thank you for standing up for what is right. And, please, keep it up!

Trochilus on May 26, 2009 at 2:25 PM

I wish he’s run for President. We need an adult in the White House.

dogsoldier on May 26, 2009 at 2:50 PM

I wish he’s run for President. We need an adult in the White House.

dogsoldier on May 26, 2009 at 2:50 PM

I don’t think he will. I think he just realizes that Obama and his fluffer media need to be schooled. But I do feel the need to say…

Cheney/Palin 2012

Laura in Maryland on May 26, 2009 at 3:00 PM

Cheney and Bush’s reputations will improve as the mirage of a Messiah evaporates in the hot sun of reality and more and more of the Bush administrations policies are adopted as the only practical solutions to survive in this dangerous world.

Star20 on May 26, 2009 at 3:06 PM

Yes, I am kidding, sheesh, we all better work on our sarc skills, in the future it will be the only way to communicate effectively, without going to jail.

2Tru2Tru on May 26, 2009 at 1:51 PM

What, “They pretend to work for us, and we pretend to pay lip-service?”

Blacksmith on May 26, 2009 at 3:48 PM

People who disliked Cheney mostly knew only what others said about him.

progressoverpeace on May 26, 2009 at 11:52 AM

And “what others said about him” was many times dishonest or outright lies.

One of the largest examples of a Democrat double standard on Cheney was going after his Halliburton ties, while conveniently ignoring that their hero Slick Willie had actually given Halliburton no-bid contracts himself.

And also swept down the memory hole by the Leftists was that Democrat President Lyndon Johnson had done business with KBR, later a part of Halliburton, since before Cheney had even been born.

Del Dolemonte on May 26, 2009 at 4:07 PM

Whoever tried to “keep Cheney off the big stage during Bush’s last term” was probably the same person who fed Scott Duh McClellan to the ravenous wolves of the White House press corps, gave us Harriet Miers for SCOTUS, and was totally tone-deaf on Katrina. Even when there was plenty of evidence to rebut the “no WMD’s in Iraq” meme in Saddam’s archives, nobody bothered to translate them and put the evidence squarely under the noses of the lying press. Without rebuttal, people believe the liars.

Steve Z on May 26, 2009 at 1:28 PM

1. As far as Hurricane Katrina, the Democrats in Louisiana were the ones who actually screwed the pooch on that one (not Bush, who had ordered a state of emergency in Louisiana 4 days before the hurricane hit). When their total incompetence started to emerge, these clowns enlisted their allies at the national DNC level to get a compliant mainstream media to shift the blame to Bush.

2. The DOD actually did put out Saddam’s captured documents online in an attempt to get them translated by others, as they had a shortage of translators at the time. Many were translated by volunteers, and as you say these conclusively showed Saddam’s guilt not only in the WMDs but also as far as his support for terrorism.

One of the best of these people was a blogger calling himself “jveritas”. Ed featured his translations on his old Captain’s Quarters blog, and in fact as I recall Ed even paid a couple of other outside translators to confirm what jveritas had translated.

But since the mainstream media’s template did not include the possibility that Chimpy was right, jveritas’ work was widely ignored, and they never reported it.

The Pentagon had to shut down the online translation website in 2005, as some of what was translated starting getting into sensitive territory. But jveritas’ work can still be analyzed here:

http://iraqdocs.blogspot.com/

Del Dolemonte on May 26, 2009 at 4:17 PM

We’re looking for a fighter. We need someone to defend us and our values. His (Cheney’s) stock will continue to rise, if he gets more public exposure during his criticisms of the current administration. He’s a fighter and is basking in his new (retirement) freedom. I doubt he’ll seek any public office again. But it sure is nice to hear someone telling the truth in such a strong manner. GRAVITAS! True Grit!!

scottjenn on May 26, 2009 at 5:30 PM

I like Cheney. I am glad he is speaking out now, but where were theys guys when they should have been defending their policies while they were in office? When you lay it out the way it’s being laid out by them now, people get it. Perhaps up and coming conservatives will learn how it’s done. But why it wasn’t done during their administration is beyond me.

gstrickler on May 26, 2009 at 12:17 PM

VP Cheney spoke up now to set the record straight. The Obama administration released the interrogation memos that should never have been part of the public’s knowledge because they were protected for security reasons. Obama was acting out of pure political calculation in order to smear his predecessors.

Cheney’s response addressed the necessity for keeping our security procedures classified. For that reason, he and Bush never detailed (or justified) the steps that they had taken to protect our nation. Had they publicly trumpeted each thwarting of a plot as it occurred, they would have been skewered as fear-mongerers, and they would have been asked to provide proof, thereby giving away the methods for gleaning the intelligence.

Once Obama revealed half of the classified information, Cheney rightfully requested that the other half, the ones that demonstrated success and actionable intelligence, be presented.

Given the hostile media-shapers during the Bush administration, Cheney or Bush would have been vilified for making their case or not. The more articulate Cheney never addressed the issue to the American people because he was quietly doing his job behind the scenes just as he had done on 9/11.

Cheney has absolutely nothing to lose in speaking out forthrightly now. It is Obama, who is willfully withholding exculpatory evidence…and he is doing so for further political reasons.

onlineanalyst on May 26, 2009 at 5:47 PM

Maybe Dick Cheney should take over for Michael Steele

Resolute on May 26, 2009 at 6:29 PM

The cream always rises.Dick Cheney is the cream of America,and he has left a great legacy…her name is Liz.While I hate this terminology,”kicka$$”and let someone else bother to take names.

DDT on May 26, 2009 at 8:59 PM

Cheney/Bolton 2012

Disturb the Universe on May 26, 2009 at 9:18 PM

The Pentagon had to shut down the online translation website in 2005, as some of what was translated starting getting into sensitive territory. But jveritas’ work can still be analyzed here:

http://iraqdocs.blogspot.com/

Del Dolemonte on May 26, 2009 at 4:17 PM

Thanks for posting that link!

Cylor on May 26, 2009 at 10:26 PM

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