Cheney and Obama on National Security; Oh … and Pelosi's Still Controversial

Bloggers on the Obama vs. Cheney speeches, torture, terrorism, Guantanamo Bay, and Nancy Pelosi.

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Obama Makes His Case

Before we get started, liberal Steve Benen wants us to know that today's Cheney-Obama fight is horribly manufactured by the media (to the benefit of the GOP). Liberal Katia Bachko backs him up: "It's completely unreasonable to frame these two speeches as an actual debate between two equals. We have a democratically elected president, and an unpopular former politician who are not directly engaging with one another. The question of national security is too important to sidestep in favor of a falsely construed schoolyard fight between a bully and the class president." Now let's get to Obama's national security speech. FP Passport is all over it. "The president says that we lost our way in the war on terror. I disagree. We didn't lose our way—we set up a structure to win," reacts conservative Dana Perino. "I wish the Democrats would put half as much energy into fighting terrorists as they do in fighting Dick Cheney." Patrick Appel picks highlights from the speech. Conservative Michael Rubin thinks Obama was defensive. And liberal Robert Schlesinger thinks national security is about freedom, and not the kind of freedom that Bush/Cheney claimed to protect: "The president made an important point today that really can't be understated: Our freedoms and our democratic form of government are a great strength and aid to our national security."

Cheney Strikes Back

Conservative Michelle Malkin is happy that Cheney's speech has got Democrats talking about their soft spots on national security. She writes: "If not for the forceful public defenses by Vice President Cheney of the aggressive, proactive measures the last administration took to keep us safe, the current commander-in-chief would be happily gabbling about solar panels and weatherization subsidies or somesuch." Joe Gandelman notes that Cheney's anything but Mr. Popular, but his poll numbers are going up. Marc Ambinder writes that Cheney's real argument is as much with the Bush administration as it is with Obama: "Cheney seems to be arguing with himself; or, rather, with the decisions that his President, George W. Bush, made after the thumping of the 2006 elections. He is arguing with Republican Party elites, most of whom are willing to criticize individual decisions Obama has made but who can't find fault with his general approach to terrorism." Conservative Bill Kristol thinks the rhetorical boxing match is a mismatch ... in favor of Dick Cheney. He writes: "Cheney's is the speech of a grownup, of a chief executive, of a statesman. He's sober, realistic and concrete, stands up for his country and its public officials, and has an acute awareness of the consequences of the choices one makes as a public official and a willingness to take responsibility for those choices." Liberal David Weigel points out that Cheney's speech mentions 9/11 25 times. Liberal Zachary Roth sums up Cheney's point: "If you oppose Dick Cheney's approach to the war on terror, you're not taking 9/11 seriously."

The Pelosi Controversy

...Is simmering down. Which is not to say that the speakers' accusation that the CIA lied to her is any less controversial, but bloggers are beginning to reconsider the scandal. "In looking at the substance of the accusations, it increasingly looks like she was right," writes Jay Newton-Small. She explains, noting that "all of this has been lost in the GOP sturm und drang, led, by—of all people—Pete Hoekstra and Newt Gingrich. Yes, Pelosi needs a serious lesson in public relations but it increasing looks like there's nothing wrong with her memory." Greg Sargent follows up on Pelosi's claims with former GOP Congressman Porter Goss, who was in the room during Pelosi's CIA briefing. Sargent explains what he learned from Porter: "This does not contradict Pelosi's claim that she was only told that such techniques were legal, not that they had been or certainly would be used—the crux of the GOP's attack." On a separate but related note, Sargent predicts that this statement by former-GOP-but-now-Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter is going to hit the cable news circuit running. And conservative David Freddoso notes that Republicans aren't stopping short of calling for Pelosi's ouster.