Dick Cheney Interview a Reminder of Leadership with Conviction

cheneyI like Dick Cheney, but more importantly I respect him. I know such a confession will earn me immediate, impassioned condemnation from our friends on the left, and probably even from some on the right. But that just goes with the territory of being a columnist who speaks his mind.

To add insult to injury, I’ll even mention that there aren’t a whole lot of politicians who I both like and respect, so my statement on Cheney is particularly complimentary.

Now, before slamming your fist down somewhere in the proximity of the “page down” key on your keyboard so you can quickly reply to this column with an angry, blistering tirade on Iraq, Halliburton, and neoconservatism, let me explain why I admire the man.

I admire him because he’s one of the last representatives of a dying breed of political leadership that speaks boldly and with conviction, tells you exactly what they think, demonstrates a vast amount of knowledge and clarity when explaining their support for (or opposition to) controversial policies, and couldn’t care less whether or not any of it makes them popular.

Until I watched Fox News Sunday this week, and listened to Chris Wallace’s fascinating interview with the former vice president, I’d nearly forgotten what it was like to have someone from that mold in Washington.

Some would say it’s a good thing that people like him are now scarce in D.C. They’re wrong.

Conservatives like me often gripe about the damaging policy decisions the current administration has burdened the American people with. We watch the expansion of government and bureaucracies eroding away the fundamentals that made this country great. We see our kids’ futures crumbling under the weight of an insurmountable national debt and our country’s rapid decline on the world stage. We recognize the dire need to stand up and defend our side of the ideological divide.

But even when an administration does so many things that we’re adamantly opposed to, we still expect the people in it to demonstrate a certain degree of knowledge and credibility when it comes to protecting our homeland from foreign threats in a post-9/11 world.

When Dick Cheney talks about the extensive measures the Bush administration took to protect our country, he’s unquestionably knowledgeable (extremely knowledgeable, in fact) of the programs that were used. He explains those programs and policies with clarity, describes exactly why they are important in keeping Americans safe, and most importantly, he offers a bold defense of his implementation of them.

That’s the kind of thing a leader does… even if you disagree with him.

In contrast, when President Obama or one of his high-ranking surrogates opens their mouth about national security, they often appear to have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about.

That’s not a partisan cheap-shot. My observation doesn’t stem merely from the disagreements I have with them. It comes from that deer-in-the-headlights gaze of incomprehension that I often read in the eyes of our government’s top security officials.

I’m talking about people like Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, who inexplicably hadn’t even heard of the major terrorist arrests that had taken place in London in late 2010, until Diane Sawyer asked him a question about them several hours after the story had been widely reported in the media. There’s nothing that instills confidence like watching one of our nation’s top leaders squirm like an eight year-old child who’s being quizzed by a teacher on a book he failed to read.

Clapper’s been in the news again recently, after being exposed for apparently lying to Senator Ron Wyden about the scope of the NSA’s data collection programs back in March. I feel compelled to offer an alternative explanation for his false statement. Maybe he honestly believed what he was saying. Maybe he’s just a willfully uninformed, totally incompetent director, and his current attempts to spin his previous statement are more about covering up his own ineptitude than covering up a lie.

Another example is Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, whose confirmation hearing had to rank up there with Sarah Palin’s famous interview with Katie Couric, as one of the most embarrassing performances ever put on display by an aspiring cabinet member. There’s something terribly wrong when Meghan McCain seems more informed about national security issues than the guy vying to become our nation’s defense secretary.

And how can we forget Vice President, Joe Biden? Just a heartbeat away from the presidency is a man who speaks out on the big issues with more confidence than just about anyone, while routinely sending fact-checkers into overtime-hours as they painstakingly try to connect his improvised remarks with some semblance of reality. We’re talking about the vice president of the United States… Not a cast-member from “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”

The biggest violator, of course, is President Obama himself. As the Wall Street Journal astutely pointed out earlier this week, the president refuses to defend the very war powers he robustly uses. He distances himself from debate on the national security methods he emphatically vilified during the Bush era, yet continues to preside over today.

At a time when the public is demanding answers on the scope of the NSA programs, he shrugs his shoulders, dashes off to political fundraisers, and completely avoids questioning on the topic.

FNC’s Brit Hume recently compared the president’s leadership style to his notable history of voting ‘present’ in the Illinois legislature. Silence is “not a way to lead,” Hume remarked. And he’s absolutely right.

Offering up grandiose, emotionally-charged speeches may win you elections. Shameless demagoguery and the demonization of opposing viewpoints might scare people into voting for you. But none of that matters once it’s time to govern. None of that matters when it’s time to lead.

This president routinely demonstrates that he just hasn’t the capacity to lead. He’s a brilliant orator and politician, but neither him nor his administration have conviction. The fact that Dick Cheney, and even George W. Bush this week, offered a more impassioned, compelling defense of Obama’s NSA policies than anyone in the actual Obama administration is just more evidence of that.

Author Bio:

John Daly couldn't have cared less about world events and politics until the horrific 9/11 terrorist attacks changed his perspective. Since then, he's been deeply engaged in the news of the day with a particular interest in how that news is presented. Realizing the importance of the media in a free, democratic society, John has long felt compelled to identify media injustices when he sees them. With a B.S. in Business Administration, and a 16 year background in software and web development, John has found that his real passion is for writing. His first novel, entitled "From a Dead Sleep", is now on sale! He lives in Northern Colorado with his wife and two children. Like John on Facebook. Follow John on Twitter.
Author website: http://www.johndalybooks.com/
  • RockyFjord

    Yeah me too, specially would like to go quail huntin with ol’ Dickster. Think I’d use a 12 guage with 00buck though. You can take the lead Dickford, your reputation prededes you, hahahahaha! Been drinking? Yeah, me too. Thank would be my defense as well, hahahahaha!

  • cmacrider

    John: Good article ….. although as a Canadian, who has followed American politics since the days of Eisenhower, I thought you were a tad timid in your praise for Dick Cheney. Historically America’s allies could count on American Administrations [whether Democrat or Republican] to have knowledgeable, competent, people whose life experience enabled them to play a leading role on the world stage. Cheney was one of those persons who continued that tradition. The result was Western nations, and other countries who were prepared to operate on a reasonable basis, have been secure and free to develop their own national aspirations. All of that ended with the election of a rank amateur who, it seems, has surrounded himself with a group of comical incompetents. No American ally can currently feel comfortable in the face of an emerging China and re-emerging Russia as long as Obama and his fellow sand lot players are wandering aimlessly around the White House.

    BTW …. You wrote in describing Obama that “He’s a brilliant orator and politician”. Churchill was an orator because he not only had a mastery of the English language but he was able to express a world view which had depth, substance, and vision. Reciting pious platitudes and reading straw man arguments off the teleprompter does not an “ORATOR” make. We have yet to see whether Obama actually is an accomplished politician since he seems quite incapable of creating any bi-partisan agreement on anything … he is too busy running off to slag his opponents in front of his adoring base.

  • Wil

    Failure of leadership?

    What are 911, Katrina botched FEMA response and the Sub-prime mortgage scam foisted on investors by Wall Street crooks if not a failure in leadership?

    Need I remind the brain dead republicans just who was in charge from 2001 until 2009?

    • John Daly

      Need I remind the brain dead Obama defenders that the a Republican hasn’t been in charge for four and a half years?

      • Wil

        Dick Cheney who had failed anticipate real 911 attacks given that his admin had been receiving warnings should not be giving advice post 911. No only that, his admin was unable to sort out fact from fiction and entered Iraq war so he was clueless while in office so he he should stop ranting now. He and his ilk left Obama and our country in a mess!

        • John Daly

          >>Dick Cheney who had failed anticipate real 911 attacks

          What exactly do you think is the job of the vice president of the United States?

      • Wil

        Who have been in charge of the House of Representatives for over 2 years?

        • John Daly

          Seriously Wil? Because if that pathetic rebuttal is really part of a serious argument you’re trying to make, please look up how many years Democrats controlled branches of government during the Bush era.

          Congress doesn’t govern. The president of the United States does. At least, he’s supposed to.

          • Wil

            >Congress doesn’t govern.<

            Do you know what Congress does? I don't think so.

          • John Daly

            We can continue this conversation later when you’re sober, if you like.

          • Wil

            *Snark Alert*

          • John Daly

            Even you have to admit you were putting on a “Tommy Boy” debate there, man. ;)

          • Wil

            Sit down,little man!

  • Wil

    Dick Cheney uses projection of lies onto Obama to TRY very hard to excuse he and Bush’s muck up of so many lives and deaths on their watch. He is a serial liar and sometimes I think he actually re-arranged the abject mess he and GW made of things so he can feel like he is a hero. Self deception, the fall back position of the truly heinous military killers.

    • John Daly

      I think he also eats children, if I recall correctly.

  • GlenFS

    I have always admired Cheney and still do for the reasons you offer. With the abuses of these powers evident under Obama, I’m now reconsidering the wisdom of extending the arm of government into our private lives. I don’t fault them for their judgment under the circumstances, but now feel that they forgot to consider the biggest circumstance of all… an administration such as we have now, willing to use this power to their own selfish ends.

    • John Daly

      I suppose that’s the dangerous thing about granting such power to the government. Administrations change.

  • Kathie Ampela

    VP Cheney is vastly underrated and underappreciated for his leadership during the Bush years and in the aftermath of 9/11. He has been smeared and slandered, outrageous lies and conspiracy theories have been going around for years, he has had serious health problems and nearly died before his heart transplant. He continues to participate in the public debate when others would have simply retired from public life. As someone who lived through 9/11 and didn’t watch it on CNN and then forgot about it like some reality show, I can tell you I appreciate the infrastructure which was put in place after 9/11 and all the efforts that were made.

    Cheney is the voice of the national security hawks that are now in the minority. The War on Terror has been replaced by the War on Big Government. Big Government is now more to fear than jihadists. ( http://www.nationalreview.com/article/351128/national-security-right-goes-silent-andrew-c-mccarthy/page/0/2) But how soon everyone forgets? It’s been merely 2 months since a terror attack killed 3, including an 8 year old boy and maimed scores. No one wants to ask the question on WHY the NSA missed the Boston bombings (http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/061213-659753-all-intrusive-obama-terror-dragnet-excludes-mosques.htm), because the narrative has changed to the War on Big Government (over on the Right, anyway) I’ve written to Fox News complaining that they aren’t covering that aspect of the story. I believe VP Cheney understands more than anyone how dangerous this mindset is. He is a patriot for offering an informed, experienced opinion that is not popular in his party.

    History tells us that after each successful terror attack, whether overseas (Benghazi) or on the homeland (Boston), the jihadists become emboldened and inspired to do bigger things. The 1998 embassy bombings and 2000 U.S.S. Cole were the runup to 9/11 (and I’ve always doubted the TWA Flight 800 in 1996 was “mechanical failure” but I’ll save that for another time)

    I want answers on abuses of power like Benghazi and the IRS, too. But not at the expense of dismantling an entire national security appartus. Kudos to Cheney for saying what he thinks, and that’s that.

    • John Daly

      Excellent points Kathie. I agree with it all. I also like that Cheney doesn’t seem to care what his detractors think.

    • Wil

      Dick Cheney: Benghazi Is “One Of The Worst Incidences, Frankly,
      That I Can Recall”

      His
      memory started on 1/20/2009 just like all righties!

  • Wheels55

    I watched that interview as well and came away with the same feelings. When intelligent people remark on major issues and concerns, I feel better informed and a little more at ease. However, the abuses of power by Obama and his gang have yet to be explained.

    • John Daly

      Agreed. I feel far more at ease when the people leading our country actually seem to have a firm handle on what they’re doing, and care enough about what they’re dong to actually defend their actions intelligently.