Rick Warren, Dick Cheney, and Why Liberals and Conservatives Alike Need a Holiday Timeout

Take a deep holiday breath and relax a little bit.

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In the spirit of the holiday season, let's hope that both liberals and conservatives take a deep breath for a while. Both have had an inclination to go off the deep end, forgetting that the campaign and election are over.

For the liberals, they should forget the protests over Rick Warren being chosen to deliver the invocation at Barack Obama's inaugural. It was appropriately his choice and sent a signal for his willingness to reach out to disparate groups.

However, left wing and gay rights were howling mad within hours of Warren's selection. The media, which always loves a good fight, pounced on the story.

Maybe the protesters would have preferred to have John McCain on the platform next month. In Texas, they used to say that liberals would prefer going down in flames to winning elections.

In that debate hosted by Warren's church in California during the fall campaign, McCain got the big applause with his terse lines in opposition to abortion and gay rights. But Obama's answers were more meaningful and thoughtful.

It was said that Warren himself told Obama he did a good job in the face of an unfriendly crowd that evening.

As for conservatives, they should control themselves about the negative reaction to the farewell interviews and speeches by President Bush and Vice President Cheney. You would think these two were taking a victory lap in the face of the most unpopular polling numbers in modern history.

In his surprise trip to Iraq and Afghanistan, the president still talked of "victory" or winning in those countries. While violence is way down in Iraq, a long-range and enduring peace is a distant goal. American troops will still be there for three more years in some capacity and no telling what will happen when they finally leave.

Afghanistan is even direr. Remember, it was the country the Bush war council left prematurely to attack Iraq. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, a holdover in the Obama administration, is right when he says more troops are needed there as the Taliban and al Qaeda have renewed strength.

Cheney is even more out of touch. In his remarkable interview with ABC News, he supported water-boarding and other means to question prisoners. Forget that all other nations oppose torture and the image of the USA has been blemished by these brutal tactics.

Cheney maintained he had not changed from his calmer days in the Ford White House or at the Pentagon as secretary of defense under Bush 41. He said 9/11 changed him.

Well, Mr. Vice President, 9/11 changed all of us and did serve as a stark reminder of our potential vulnerability to terrorists, yet it did not give us license to run amok with policies that Obama is sure to change.

In his Sunday interview with Fox News, a Cheney favorite, of course, he supported aid to the auto companies but wondered whether they could survive the long run. His party in Congress scuttled an aid package in a clear attempt to thwart unions in the industrial north.

At this late hour, neither Bush nor Cheney can admit they made any mistakes. The country knows better.

It wasn't just liberals who voted against the McCain-Palin ticket on November 4. Many other Americans were pulling levers in opposition to the Bush-Cheney record at home and abroad.

So, happy holidays to those zealots on the left and right. It may just mean we'll have a centrist government starting at noon on January 20.