May 22, 2009
First Round Knockout
The media were hoping for a 12 round heavyweight title bout between Barack Obama and Dick Cheney that would go the distance, but we were all treated to a first round knockout quicker than Mike Tyson on Marvis Frazier.
The two prizefighters stepped into the ring for a debate on national security, mano a mano, an ideological perspective vs. a factual perspective on the War on Terror.
Obama, the arrogant southpaw rookie, entered the match reeling from a defeat in the Senate and losing control of the message on national security, preempted the former vice president's pre-scheduled speech in order to throw the first punch.
Cheney, the poised and assured veteran who is accustomed to taking a punch, entered the match with no office to campaign for and no party to appease, only a sound "just the facts" argument that Jack Webb could appreciate.
In the course of his speech, Obama took the opportunity to remind us of his days as a law student, but he should have dusted off the textbooks from his courses in evidence before he spoke.
Remember Denzel Washington's famous line in "Training Day"?
It's not what you know; it's what you can prove.
Proof is defined as confirmation of fact by evidence.
The concept of evidence escapes present-day Obama because he believes so strongly in his gift: a commanding voice that delivers his ideological rhetoric with overbearing force.
The President actually expects us to believe his word should suffice sans evidence.
First, Obama proclaimed that the Bush Administration's approach for fighting terrorism was "neither effective nor sustainable", but didn't bother to prove it. I guess we should completely ignore the fact that said approach has kept us safe for the last seven-plus years. Furthermore, he asserted that the "ineffective" approach has managed to alienate our nation around the world and consequently we've lost the cooperation of other nations to partner with us to prevent further attacks. You mean the same nations who are miraculously still working with us on our borders and abroad to prevent further attacks?
Second, we should believe that the means of interrogation employed and our detention centers at Guatananomo Bay have served as recruitment tools for terrorists. Theoretically, this claim could be viable, but unfortunately an inconvenient truth imposes its will on that assertion. As evidenced by the attacks from the early 1990s to the early 2000s, terrorists were a threat to our nation before we even had enhanced interrogation techniques, a Department of Homeland Security, Guantanomo Bay, or any of the other measures created by the Bush Administration as a response to the fact that this nation was not cognizant to the war on America perpetrated by them. Moreover, Guantanomo has only served to weaken our national security by emboldening our enemies if you believe that because the president says it's so.
When did national security become quantitative data?
Can we measure it today and compare it against a previous value?
This "formula" is as irrelevant as Obama's ambiguous presumption that he can measure a saved job.
Remember, it's not what you know; it's what you can prove.
Obama claimed to know much, but proved little.
If he were a good fighter he'd know the right time to use certain punches in his arsenal. Ideology can be effective on the campaign trail, but the president needs to realize that he is now in a position where he has to govern for all, not just garner more brownie points from the far-Left or receive applause from the hills of Prague. When he wants to ring the emotional bell, he can do that via his ideology and demagogic sophistry, but when it comes to showdowns on complicated issues with real statesmen like Dick Cheney, he has to ring the evidentiary bell to substantiate his argument.
Therein lies the difference between the rookie southpaw and the poised veteran.
Cheney stepped into the ring with a much more cogent argument and it was he who sounded like he possessed a law degree and was trained for battle in court.
The former vice president reminded us that regardless as to how we see fit to change our approach on the War on Terror, the threat of evil remains the same. Cheney pinpointed why we utilized the techniques we had to employ to save lives, the danger we face as a result of ending those techniques, and called the Obama Administration to task for their selective transparency of releasing memoranda that detail the techniques that were used, but withholding the intelligence that was gained as a result:
"For reasons the administration has yet to explain, they believe the public has a right to know the method of the questions, but not the content of the answers."
Cheney spoke as a private citizen who aimed to do nothing more or less than arrive at the truth, and accomplished that by sticking and moving: sticking with the facts, and moving out of the way of the spin. In stark contrast to Cheney, Obama spoke from a position of weakness, delivering a damage control political speech that only served to spin the issue rather than address the unanswered questions surrounding this debate regarding Guantanomo, the detainees, and torture memos.
Vice President Cheney recognized the reality that the enemy we face demands decisive action --within the law-- so that we all may go to bed each night and wake up each morning at peace.
President Obama claims to go to bed each night and wake up each morning with the responsibility of protecting the American people on his mind, but he's spent more time advancing his domestic social agenda than anything else.
The feel good rehashed campaign tour complete with various town hall meetings across the country and dog-and-pony summits in Washington were about easing the financial ills of the people, not assuring them a bomb wouldn't go off in their local shopping center or a plane wouldn't strike the skyscraper where they work.
President Obama confines himself to a world of ideology and appears to be a man who would rather live with blood on his hands than dirt. His performance yesterday only further demonstrated that he does not possess the right mindset to protect this country in the same manner the Bush Administration did.
Do you feel safer?
Sunday, May 24th 2009, 4:00 AM
It was a tale of two speeches. One was clear, direct and powerful. Barack Obama gave the other speech.
It would have been heresy to write those words any other time, so commanding has President Obama been with the spoken word. But the real Mission Impossible was to imagine that wheezy old Dick Cheney would be the speaker to best Obama.
Yet that happened last week, and I predict it won't be a fluke. From here on out, results will increasingly trump the sensation of Obama's high-toned lectures every time.
Especially if they are as dreary as last Thursday's, which was so disingenuous and self-reverential as to be one of the low moments of his presidency. Besides not being able to clearly lay out his plan for Guantanamo detainees, Obama never mentioned what will happen to others we capture in Iraq and Afghanistan. Perhaps we will take no more prisoners?
Meanwhile, the occasion showed that Cheney, the darkest of dark horses, is emerging as a fact checker in exile. With Democrats holding all Washington power, the ex-veep's willingness to challenge Obama's narrative of the war on terror is a poor substitute for an institutional check-and-balance, but it's all we have.
In that sense, Cheney's ability to outduel Obama could mark a turning point in the debate on this and other critical issues. His TKO over the President recalls the three most important things in real estate: Location, location, location.
The key to Cheney's powerful performance: Facts, facts, facts.
Cheney, whose wife jokes that calling him Darth Vader "humanizes" him, coughed his way through a 40-minute defense of the Bush administration's anti-terror strategy. He glossed over huge lapses, such as the flawed intelligence leading to the invasion of Iraq, but used to great effect the most compelling fact - no successful attacks on America since 9/11.
In a contrast-and-compare sequence, he challenged Obama's approach, including the release of the so-called torture memos and talk of prosecuting Bush officials.
"To the very end of our administration, we kept Al Qaeda terrorists busy with other problems," Cheney said. "We focused on getting their secrets, instead of sharing ours with them. And on our watch, they never hit this country again. After the most lethal and devastating terrorist attack ever, seven and a half years without a repeat is not a record to be rebuked and scorned, much less criminalized. It is a record to be continued until the danger has passed."
For his part, Obama sounded like a put-upon plaintiff arguing a Supreme Court case. The heavy symbolism of his setting, the National Archives in front of an original copy of the Constitution, added to the worrisome impression he is lost in the legal and political weeds.
Ironically, his criticism that Bush took his eye off the ball to invade Iraq has a corollary in Obama's fixation on interrogation techniques. He is missing the larger point.
After conceding terrorism presents unique challenges, Obama argued "the decisions that were made over the last eight years established an ad hoc legal approach for fighting terrorism that was neither effective nor sustainable - a framework that failed to rely on our legal traditions and time-tested institutions; that failed to use our values as a compass."
Whoa Nellie - are the terrorists going to hit us again or not? That's what people want to know, not whether a bunch of lawyers think we're being too tough on them.
Unfortunately, Obama was less than reassuring, saying: "Neither I nor anyone else standing here today can say that there will not be another terrorist attack that takes American lives."
That's a fact, of course, but it's also a fact that he's been warned his policies will make it more likely we will be hit again.
It's a warning he dismisses at America's peril.
It was a tale of two speeches.
One was clear, direct and powerful.
Barack Obama gave the other speech.
Aside from all of that is the question of citizenship. If Borque Oinkbama is actually a citizen of anything it would almost certainly be Kenya.