Cheney teaches Repub­li­cans how to fight

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Pat Buchanan

Dick Cheney is giv­ing the Repub­li­can Party a demon­stra­tion of how to fight a pop­u­lar pres­i­dent. Stake out de­fen­si­ble high ground, do not sur­ren­der an inch, then go onto the at­tack.

The ground on which Mr. Cheney has cho­sen to stand is the most de­fen­si­ble the Repub­li­cans have: home­land se­cu­rity. In seven-and-a-half years af­ter 9/11, not one ter­ror­ist at­tack struck our coun­try.

And, un­like Pres­i­dent Obama’s po­si­tion, Mr. Cheney’s is 100 per­cent re­al­ity based. He was there. He lived through this. He made the de­ci­sions to use the harsher tech­niques on the worst of the en­emy who could yield the great­est in­tel­li­gence to save Amer­i­can lives.

“The in­ter­ro­ga­tions were used on hard­ened ter­ror­ists af­ter other ef­forts failed. They were le­gal, es­sen­tial, jus­ti­fied, suc­cess­ful and the right thing to do.” And they “pre­vented the vi­o­lent deaths of thou­sands if not hun­dreds of thou­sands of in­no­cent peo­ple.”

Hav­ing de­fended ev­ery de­ci­sion he took, Mr. Cheney then coun­ter­at­tacked. He charged The New York Times with vir­tual trea­son in ex­pos­ing the pro­gram to in­ter­cept calls from al-Qaida and mocked its Pulitzer Prize. He ac­cused lib­er­als and Speaker Pelosi of “feigned out­rage” and “phony mor­al­iz­ing,” as­sert­ing they were fully briefed on “the pro­gram and the meth­ods.” He charged Mr. Obama with en­dan­ger­ing na­tional se­cu­rity by “tri­an­gu­lat­ing,” adopt­ing a pol­icy de­signed less to se­cure Amer­ica than to unite and ap­pease his po­lit­i­cal coali­tion.

“There is never a good time to com­pro­mise when the lives and safety of the Amer­i­can peo­ple are in the bal­ance.”

Mr. Cheney comes to this quar­rel armed with cred­i­bil­ity, cer­ti­tude, con­sis­tency and con­vic­tion born of eight years of suc­cess. Lis­ten­ing to Mr. Obama’s dis­qui­si­tion, one gets the sense his home­land se­cu­rity pol­icy is the col­lec­tive view of the ed­i­to­rial board of the Har­vard Law Re­view, with a sig­noff by the lo­cal chap­ter of the ACLU.

That Mr. Cheney is winning seems un­de­ni­able.

Not only has his ap­proval rat­ing risen to 37 per­cent, prob­a­bly higher on na­tional se­cu­rity, Mr. Obama’s coali­tion is crack­ing apart.

Speaker Pelosi’s cred­i­bil­ity has been shred­ded over what she knew and when she knew it re­gard­ing wa­ter­board­ing. Her com­rades are all howl­ing that the CIA lied, but no one wants an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The left wing of the party be­lieves Mr. Obama dou­ble­crossed them when he re­fused to release the pho­tos of abused pris­on­ers, kept the mil­i­tary tribunals and sent 22,000 more troops to Afghanistan.

And Harry Reid and a Demo- mur­der­ers we con­fronted, the prospect of more U.S. dead, the non-lethal­ity of the tech­niques and the value of the in­tel­li­gence ac­quired, it was the right thing to do.

And the Democrats are los­ing be­cause, with few ex­cep­tions, they have been nei­ther con­sis­tent nor hon­est.

Their key leaders were read in on the in­ter­ro­ga­tion tech­niques. Few protested. They went along when Amer­ica seemed in im­mi­nent peril. Re- abuses at Abu Ghraib.

Mr. Obama never thought through what he would do with the hard-core al Qaeda housed in Guan­tanamo.

This is a re­cur­ring prob­lem of lib­er­als. They are for­ever into pos­tur­ing, as­sum­ing heroic moral stands, but rarely con­sider the con­se­quences in the real world. It was brave to de­nounce the Shah, Anas­ta­sio So­moza and Ian Smith. But when they fell, we got the Ay­a­tol­lah Khome­ini, the San­din­istas and “Com­rade Bob” Mu­gabe in Zim­babwe.

In his speeches, Mr. Obama is all ab­strac­tions. While lis­ten­ers may say he speaks beau­ti­fully, 24 hours later, who re­mem­bers what he said? Mr. Cheney deals with the con­crete. We re­mem­ber that scene in the White House bunker, with that plane headed for the Capi­tol, and we re­mem­ber Khalid Sheikh Mo­ham­mad say­ing he will talk af­ter he gets to New York and sees his lawyer.

The Repub­li­can Party needs to get off the psy­chi­a­trist’s couch, and stand up and fight for what it be­lieves. You don’t need a moderate with a pretty face to de­liver a moderate mes­sage. The for­mer vice pres­i­dent with the croc­o­dile grin has just shown the way.

Pat Buchanan is a na­tion­ally syndicated colum­nist.

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