Apparently Ross Douthat’s buddy Reihan Salam doesn’t like former VP Dick Cheney. Salam’s recent TheDailyBeast.com column calls Cheney “America’s surliest pundit,” and moans that the ex-vp hasn’t “graciously kept his mouth shut” in retirement like Bush has. Like many of these circular firing squad leaders (think Douthat, Kathleen Parker, the McCain clan or David Frum) Salam is far more interested in shooting at folks on his own side than in trying to move ahead for the future of the conservative movement. It’s obviously some sick bid to be “liked” by the Old Media establishment.
Salam charges that Cheney is too busy “mugging for the camera” and attacking Obama with his “macho snarl” to see that he should just go away. Blah, blah, blah, and such and so forth. In truth, Salam offers nothing worth debating and nearly everything he says in this screed is simply erroneous, so I won’t bother with his self-hating blather against Cheney whose information is a must hear for any conservative looking to see where Obama is going wrong on homeland security and foreign policy.
But, the one issue that moves me to discuss Salam’s carping is simply this: why should a former president or vice-president go off into the night never to talk in public again? Even more to the point, how often has it happened, anyway?
First of all let’s dispense with Salam’s idiotic contention that former vice presidents necessarily just fade away to the quite dignity of retirement. Of course, many VPs have subsequently gone on to run for president, so their keeping their mouths shut about policy past and present was simply not an option. But, we don’t even have to wade through hundreds of years of history to look for outspoken VPs. We have one of recent vintage, the one just prior to Cheney, that has been taking global warming creating private jets all across the world to denounce those that took office after him. Everyone’s favorite global warming snake-oil salesman, Al Core, has never shut his mouth from the second he steeped down. In fact, at an appearance in Tennessee in 2004 Gore unleashed one of his most famous tirades of all by screaming at the top of his lungs, “He betrayed this country, he played on our fears!!” (Click here for that hard to find audio)
Gore was and continues to be seen working up a faux lather in loud denouncements of Bush and Cheney. So I am wondering why Salam didn’t seem to remember this wild-eyed version of “gracious silence” perpetrated by Al Gore when he was excoriating Cheney for his post-office punditry?
Secondly, this supposed ungraciousness on the part of Cheney is an outright untruth. Cheney has not once been seen bellowing like a gored oxen at campaign rallies. He has not been waving his arms like a lunatic spewing hot air like some former vps we could mention (and just did). In reality, he has been engaged in calm, serious and logical discussions of policy. Cheney has been the very model of dignity and seriousness. Yet, here is Salam, slamming Cheney as if he has somehow been untoward while giving an unhinged nut like Gore a complete pass.
So, why is Salam attacking Cheney? What possible reason would a conservative have to attack Cheney instead of Obama?
We all know the answer to that, of course. Likely his goal is to spur CNN to invite him on TV instead of to advance the conservative cause. Like his fellows on the mushy, moderate side, our cause is secondary to his hoped for TV career. After all, just look at the venue in which Salam chose to attack Cheney. Does this guy think TheDailyBeast.com is the place to help conservatives rebuild? Of course it isn’t. Salam’s choice of this venue to attack what is supposed to be folks on his own side was chosen specifically to show off to the left that he could be the next Kathleen Parkeresque pundit. He wants lefties to know that he can be a self-immolator, too.
Well, Salam, old fellow, mission accomplished. I am sure that CNN’s bookers are rushing to their PDAs to note your name for the next time they need a conservative that is more interested in slamming his own than those on the other side. I’m sure congratulatory fruit baskets from The New York Times and MSNBC are winding their way to your door as we speak. Hooray for you.
But please don’t imagine you have any legitimate criticism of Dick Cheney. Your delusional self-aggrandizement does not equate to salient analysis.