Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 15, 2010

A BROKEN CLOCK IS RIGHT TWICE A DAY.... Dick Cheney's appearance on ABC News yesterday morning offered viewers quite a few errors of fact and judgment, but he got one thing right.

In an exclusive interview on "This Week," former Vice President Dick Cheney said he thinks it's time to "reconsider" the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that prohibits gays and lesbians from serving openly in the U.S. military.

"Twenty years ago, the military were strong advocates of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' when I was secretary of defense. I think things have changed significantly since then," Cheney said. Cheney served as the secretary of defense, from 1989 to 1993, in the Bush administration.

"I'm reluctant to second-guess the military in this regard," Cheney said. "When the chiefs come forward and say, 'We think we can do it,' then it strikes me that it's -- it's time to reconsider the policy.

He added that he believes "society has moved on" from where it was when the DADT policy was crafted 17 years ago.

I've seen some rather excessive praise for Cheney's comments, but I'm reluctant to give the failed former V.P. too much credit here. Cheney's position has remained consistent for nearly two decades, but as Andrew Sullivan noted, during his tenure in office, Cheney "never moved a finger to help on any of these issues as vice-president, and led a party whose homophobia has become more and more pronounced with every year that has passed.'

Nevertheless, his support for President Obama's position on DADT repeal is welcome, and adds to the momentum. Late last month, the president called for an end to the absurd policy in the State of the Union. In the three weeks since, we've seen endorsements of the White House position from the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Colin Powell, Dick Cheney, and 75% of the American people.

I don't doubt they'll try, but conservatives hoping to characterize repeal as some kind of radical, liberal experiment may find it more than a little difficult under these conditions.

Steve Benen 8:40 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (18)

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Cheney will support repeal of DADT right up until it is repealed, then he will accuse the Dems of weakening the military by letting the gays in. No one in the media will point out the about face.

Posted by: martin on February 15, 2010 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

I think Cheney's big failure in his attitude toward torture is a failure of imaginiation. Evil, as they say, is banal --committed by people of mediocre minds.

Cheney is supportive of gay marriage as well as repeal of DADT. I don't think it's a coincidence that his daughter's gay. Somebody with such reprehensible views on torture, isn't a generally empathetic person, so it's hard to imagine him having an abstract empathy for gays. Furthermore, he doesn't have much respect for the American Constitution or for the American legal system and American notions of the right and good. Therefore it's hard to imagine he'd have much respect for legal arguments for gay rights either. So I'd be willing to bet that his reasons for supporting both the repeal of DADT and gay marriage have something to do with personal experience.

Perhaps if he had a family member waterboarded, he'd be able to conjur up enough imagination to realize how wrong he is on this issue.

Posted by: Elizabeth on February 15, 2010 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

If Cheney did not have a gay daughter he would have never come to this conclusion,

Posted by: msw on February 15, 2010 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

It's telling that an Administrator who supported and expanded the wealth of the oligarchy while in office continues to enjoy air time - unprecedented when looking at all past Vice Presidents who are now out of office.

Was Al Gore frequent on the air waves after his tenure, allowed to opine on what is wrong with his successor? That is because he did not support the kinds of actions and legislation that the oligarchs approve of. After all, they own the airwaves.

Posted by: terraformer on February 15, 2010 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

There is some dissonance in having Cheney on to accuse Obama of being insuffiently serious about terrorism at the very time the biggest joint operation of the war is on to take back Helmand Province from the Taliban. He prattles on as the rubble continues to bounce in Pakistan from Predator attacks on Al Qaeda militants. Ask the Taliban trapped in Helmand Province whether they think Obama is serious.

The uncritical forum offered to Cheney to exhibit his paranoia and malice is indicative of the real threat to our nation- the cretinization of our political discourse.

Posted by: bob h on February 15, 2010 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

also, he's a small man who believes that the way to make something right is to go on the attack. Have you ever noticed how insulted and indignant and aggressive a liar gets when you accuse him/her of lying? I'm always stunned and flabbergasted when somebody who has lied to me goes on the attack -- instead of being ashamed and embarrassed, they usually try to make me feel guilty and bad. Somehow, going on attack eliminates the lie. This is what Cheney's doing in his ballistic attack of Obama on torture. He thinks by attacking Obama, he's somehow forcing a wrong to be a right.

Posted by: elizabeth on February 15, 2010 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

maybe society needs to "move on" from the days of torture too.

Posted by: E on February 15, 2010 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

"If Cheney did not have a gay daughter he would have never come to this conclusion,"

Really nothing more needs to be said. He's always been self-serving. Remember while gays were (as always) being vilified by his Party and his administration he was happily announcing his new grandchild, courtesy his gay daughter and her partner.

Posted by: SaintZak on February 15, 2010 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

The Gore analogy is inexact.
Gore left the court and salons of Washington to make his case for ideas in the public square. He faced audiences around the country and the world and produced a major documentary that is still driving the debate. He doesn't need to join the pampered jades, the Sabbath gasbags.

Whereas Cheney away from the red light doesn't exist. He's almost a hologram, an animated sound bite--the right's bitchin' betty, a programmed scold. He and his content are as predictable as a Billy Mays ad and thus welcome on Sunday, an A+list non-racist Pat Buchanan

Posted by: Steve Paradis on February 15, 2010 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Finally, concrete evidence that a broken clock is half again more useful than Dick.

Posted by: doubtful on February 15, 2010 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with the poster above.

Dick Cheney finds himself in the uncomfortable position of being a homophobe who loves his daughter - who is gay.

A little first-hand experience makes all difference, eh Dick?

Too bad you never signed up for a stretch in the Army - you might see this war-mongering thing in a different light too.

Posted by: sidewinder on February 15, 2010 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Cheney was possibly right three times on Sunday: DADT, complimenting Obama on Afghanistan strategy ("though I thought he took too long to decide"), and taking some credit, not unfairly, for how Iraq is ending up.

Posted by: Grumpy on February 15, 2010 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Whoever it was that noted the phases of change (ignore, resist, embrace) never studied the Rethug. For this particularly repulsive reptile, when resistance becomes futile, the final step is to claim credit for initiating the change in question in the first place. Pathetic.

Posted by: Chopin on February 15, 2010 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

"the military were strong advocates of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' when I was secretary of defense." ??

I had the impression DADT was a compromise that changed the pre-Clinton policy of witch-hunting gays? It may not have been half a loaf, but it was a couple slices better than the policy under Cheney and before.

Posted by: Bill Harshaw on February 15, 2010 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Cheney's position on DADT is entirely consistent with how he constructs his positions on all issues. He is a narcissist, pure and simple. His opinions are informed by his own experiences: his daughter is gay, he could never have produce a flawed offspring ( and I am certain he considers her flawed), ergo, gay is good. I would bet my first born that gay would be bad if she had been straight. His love of torture has a similar narcissistic foundation, what else would a coward do but embrace an extremist view of treating the enemy that he never personally encountered, as cruelly as possible. I don’t know if Cheney is evil, but he appears to be driven by a dangerous character disorder and he is consistently being given a stage on which to display his deficits.

Posted by: DTR on February 15, 2010 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

God damn Dick Cheney's shit-filled soul to hell.

Posted by: neill on February 15, 2010 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, you are too goodhearted. Never trust someone like Cheney. If he once or twice says something that seems honest and good, ask yourself why -- and why now. With Republicans, self-interest is first, principle non-existent. Either he has been made to see the light by his gay daughter (unlikely, since she let her parents use her shamelessly in 2000 and 2004; on the other hand, Rhenquist decided to support parental leave when he found himself driving his grandchildren to school because his daughter needed help) or he's found a way to make money off it.

Posted by: SF on February 15, 2010 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

To put a little bluntly, I don't ever want to hear this evil mother fucker on radio, press or film ever again. He is an imp, a virus, a cancer, a black hole second to none. Why can't this hellspawn have a heart attack already?!

Posted by: Trollop on February 15, 2010 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK
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