Cheney Lost to Bush By DAVID BROOKS
I always enjoy reading articles where I gain new insight.
While I only agree with David Brooks 50% of the time, I always read his columns. Assuming that he has his facts right, he makes the case that there was a very serious & strong disagreement between George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Then he goes into how close Obama and GWB are pretty much on the same page.
President Obama and Dick Cheney conspired on Thursday to propagate a myth. The myth is that we lived through an eight-year period of Bush-Cheney anti-terror policy and now we have entered a very different period called the Obama-Biden anti-terror policy. As both Obama and Cheney understand, this is a completely bogus distortion of history.
Brooks posits that what most people think of as the Bush-Cheney era lasted only about 3 years. By 2005, the Bush-Rice-Hadley era had begun, and they were trying to close Gitmo.
Throughout the second Bush term, officials were trying to close Guantánamo, pleading with foreign governments to take some prisoners, begging senators to allow the transfer of prisoners onto American soil.
Then it gets more interesting, leaving the conventional wisdom (or lack thereof) behind. It’s really Bush who halted waterboarding, in opposition to what Cheney wanted.
Cheney and Obama might pretend otherwise, but it wasn’t the Obama administration that halted the practice of waterboarding. It was a succession of C.I.A. directors starting in March 2003, even before a devastating report by the C.I.A. inspector general in 2004.
Cheney, who sincerely believes he was right then, (and is right now), is now attacking the Bush administration, as well as the Obama administration - that is now adopting the same policies as Bush.
But then Brooks points out that Obama is correcting what GWB failed at - explaining his anti-terror policy in a way that people would understand.
The inauguration of Barack Obama has simply not marked a dramatic shift in the substance of American anti-terror policy. It has marked a shift in the public credibility of that policy.
Brooks defends Obama saying he has embraced almost all the strategies of the Bush years. He shows how in most cases, the Obama policy represents a continuation of or a gradual evolution from the final Bush policy.
He then quotes Jack Goldsmith, of The New Republic, describing what has been my biggest disappointment with GWB since 2003.
What Obama gets, and what President Bush never got, is that other people’s opinions matter. Goldsmith puts it well: “The main difference between the Obama and Bush administrations concerns not the substance of terrorism policy, but rather its packaging. The Bush administration shot itself in the foot time and time again, to the detriment of the legitimacy and efficacy of its policies, by indifference to process and presentation. The Obama administration, by contrast, is intensely focused on these issues.”
I believe that if George Bush had explained day after day, week after week, month after month (albeit through the MSM filter that was determined to defeat him), things would have turned out much differently.
The very first day that Ted Kennedy accused GWB of “lying us into a war” and “misleading us,” and all the other Democrat lies that continued there after, Bush should have defended his actions and gone on offense. Or, at least on defence. But neither happened. And once the MSM picked up the narrative it was the beginning of the end of support for GWB’s terror policy which increased exponentially.
Obama has taken many of the same policies Bush ended up with, and he has made them credible to the country and the world.
Brooks, who has been quite enamored with Obama for some time, still makes a good case that I can agree with, on this subject. It’s the last sentence that I don’t buy, but that’s because of other factors.
Do I wish he had been more gracious with and honest about the Bush administration officials whose policies he is benefiting from? Yes. But the bottom line is that Obama has taken a series of moderate and time-tested policy compromises. He has preserved and reformed them intelligently. He has fit them into a persuasive framework. By doing that, he has not made us less safe. He has made us more secure.
Cross posted at: http://www.tomllewis.com/ & http://www.thenextright.com/