I'm sorry--I did it again. I went and read another Dana Milbank column in the Washington Post, this time about the Obama/Cheney speech day.
After resorting to every tired cliche to describe the President ("smiling", "cerebral", "soothingly") he turned to his file of tired cliche's to describe the former VP ("scowling", "angry", "fear mongering").
Milbank gives us his handicapping on this bout as follows: "On paper, Obama should be an easy victor in his duel with Cheney; Obama is viewed favorably by about 60 percent of the public, Cheney by about 25 percent." It's not only the popularity of the two figures, it is...well....the goodness of their arguments for Pete's sake. After all, the President is making us more popular in the world, he is finally bringing justice to the issue, he is....well...smiling more.
But like the person who exclaimed after Nixon routed McGovern in 1972 ("how could Nixon have won...everyone I knew voted for McGovern"), Milbank reveals how stunningly out of touch he and many Democrats are with the way many Americans view 9-11 and the War on Terror: "And yet Cheney seems to be winning this fight. Senate Democrats, rebelling against the president, voted against funding his plan to close the Guantanamo Bay prison. President Obama himself backed down from his support for the release of photographs of prisoner abuse. And he's gone back and forth on whether to prosecute or investigate those accused of authorizing torture. For the moment, at least, President Obama's intellectual arguments can't match Cheney's visceral rage." So that's it then....Cheney (and by extension Bush) didn't lay out intellectual arguments for their policies...they simply acted with rage as they are now. If we only followed the smooth, intellectual approach of the President, we'd be in so much better shape.
Hogwash. Barack Obama and his team are beginning to understand what it was the Bush team was up against, and they are beginning to realize that the Democratic Party does not have a monopoly on smart people. The Bush Administration was populated by some very, very intelligent folks who pieced together a strategy that was successful in keeping us safe from another attack. Now governing, President Obama sees that the rhetoric of the campaign trail simply does not match the reality of the job--and so he not only clings to the the Bush methods, he gussies them up a bit and calls them his own.
Both speeches yesterday served as striking testimony to the effectiveness of the Bush approach to the war on terror, though the President was clearly not trying to make that case.