By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Even as Nancy Pelosi was being interrogated by members of the media over her tortured explanations about who knew what when and who lied to whom regarding U.S. use of torture, Democrats got some good news on the subject: A new poll from Rasmussen Reports says that a majority of Americans don't buy Dick Cheney's line of attack that President Obama and his administration are endangering national security.
Pity the political parties. The Democrats have the moral high ground on the torture issue, but Pelosi's uncharacteristically inept handling of what she knew and when she knew it has given the Republicans a huge cudgel with which to beat her. (A big wall against which to throw her? A small cramped corner in which they can make her stand uncomfortably?) One doubts whether her accusation that the CIA lied to her will play well politically—voters are happy to blame pols and policymakers, but may be more loath to turn on the careerists who are presumably toiling on the front lines of the battle against al Qaeda.
Republicans, on the other hand, are saddled with Dick Cheney, the cranky old uncle who, suddenly bereft of actual power, won't go back to his undisclosed location. And as my colleague Ken Walsh reports (as does the Washington Post), the GOP wants nothing more than for the former vice president to pipe down and get off the stage. Republicans might be drawing a winning hand on national security issues (witness Senate Democrats' attempt to draw up a bill that will shut down Guantanamo provided none of the prisoners come here), but for the fact that Cheney's miasmic poll ratings may yet pollute the issue for them. Fully 58 percent of unaffiliated voters, according to Rasmussen, view Cheney unfavorably. If you haven't seen it, I commend this cartoon to you which nicely sums up the Cheney effect, I think.
I wonder if the GOP and Democrats could broker a deal whereby Cheney and Pelosi would be removed from the torture debate entirely for being cruel and unusual to their respective parties.
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