After President Barack Obama’s speech on National Security Agency snooping Friday, is it right to consider him the new Dick Cheney?
That’s the case former Cheney adviser Mary Matalin made Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” political panel, sparking heated push back by New Yorker editor David Remnick and, to a lesser extent, PBS host Tavis Smiley.
“Now Barack Obama is Dick Cheney,” Matalin argued. “We need these policies there. They are necessary for our security.”
“The historical analogy between Dick Cheney and — with respect — Barack Obama is absurd,” Remnick responded. “I mean this is a president who’s withdrawn from two wars, this is a president who is constantly talking about the balance between — whether you are agreeing with him or not — between a security state, which came after 9/11, and keeping the country secure, and civil liberties. And he’s struggled with this, flagrantly, maybe even ostentatiously, on the subject of drones and the rest. And things have changed. Maybe too much on the margins for me or for Tavis, maybe not enough for others, but to call it Dick Cheney, I can’t agree at all.”
Matalin would have none of it — with respect, of course.
“With equal respect, he demonized Dick Cheney,” Matalin responded. “He opposed all of these security policies and he’s now making the same point that Dick Cheney made repeatedly, which is the bad guys have to be right only 1 percent of the time, we have to right 100 percent of the time. This is not the only policy — they’re not Dick Cheney policies, they’re post-9/11 security policies — that he opposed and now supports.”
Smiley finally got in on the debate, saying that he doesn’t think Obama is quite Dick Cheney, even if the president is backing many of the Bush/Cheney security policies.
“I have to concede … that while I think Mary is wrong, respectfully, that he is no Dick Cheney — I don’t believe that — but it is the case that President Obama for too many of us has continued the Bush/Cheney policies on a lot of issues, particularly foreign policy, and this is much more about marginal retrenchment than it is about major reform,” he said.