THE PLANK AUGUST 24, 2009
Fred Barnes hails Dick Cheney in the WSJ:
Better yet, [Republicans have] stopped bad policies in their tracks. Consider Dick Cheney's decision to challenge Mr. Obama's inclination to go soft in the war on terror in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute in May. By winning the argument that the nation needs a vigorous defense against al Qaeda, Mr. Cheney left Mr. Obama little choice but to stick with such Bush era policies as rendition of captured terrorists, immunity for telecommunication companies that cooperated with wiretapping possible terrorists, and targeting terrorist leaders for assassination.
Where to start? First: Cheney won the argument that we need a vigorous defense against al Qaeda? When exactly was Obama arguing it the other way?
And consider the positions into which Barnes says Obama was supposedly badgered by the former vice president. Rendition? It's true that Obama hasn't prohibited the snatching of terror suspects off the streets. But in February he signed an executive order outlawing the extrajudicial "extraordinary renditions" that were an innovation of the Bush-Cheney era, and will no longer send them to countries where we can expect them to be tortured. Telecom immunity? Obama voted to support it while he was still in the Senate, outraging the liberal left. Targeting terrorist leaders? Obama vowed during the 2008 campaign to do just that--a position conservatives both distorted and ridiculed
The reader will note that all three of these positions--two from the campaign, one within a month of Obama's inauguration--were adopted months before Cheney's big AEI speech that Barnes cites, which occurred on May 21. So, never mind.