Cheney’s Legacy Versus Obama’s Reality

Two ideas have been swirling around in my head this week.  The first has to do with Dick Cheney and the second with President Obama.  After careful thought, the juxtaposition of these two men, and their methods and policies of governance, really became quite clear.

Dick Cheney has been making a nuisance of himself appearing on many talk shows and generally, defending “his” administration and criticizing that of our current president.  I have been trying to make sense as to why Cheney is so outspoken and defensive about his eight years as Veep.  The only answer I have come up with is that he WAS the acting President.  As a result, he is personally invested in the legacy that will develop.  For eight years, he was always at some undisclosed location, inaccessible, quiet on issues, albeit the power behind the constricting, confining and downright illegal policies.   Bush was the public face on those issues, but, make no bones about it, Cheney was the mastermind.

Thus, Cheney is now, clearly, defending his tenure of running this country.  Certainly there is no chance that he is interested in elective office in the future, so his incessant appearances on political shows must be, by a process of elimination, an effort to defend his rule during the last administration.  This  Machiavellian personality desires his legacy to stand well over the course of time.  That’s it: his legacy.  But it will be difficult for his historical reputation to overcome the reality of his regime, that of legislative support for the financial elite without a whit of concern for the middle and lower classes, repression of individual rights and the inducement of fear as the motivating factor in foreign relations.

On the other idea passing through my brain, I have tried to step back and summarize what exactly President Obama has accomplished so far.  I needed to “take stock”.  Sure: he has passed major enactments to bolster up the economy, reversed social, conservative bans on stem cell policy and freedom of reproductive rights for women and certainly has raised our stature on the international front.  To me though, the most important thing President Obama has done to date is to be true to his word.  He gave us the true lowdown.  Yes, he told us the ugly truth about our economy.  Yes, he brought out the disgusting facts about Bush/Cheney’s torture policies.  Yes, he pointed out the need for social program overhauls.  However, at the same time, President Obama has presented us with REASONABLE EXPECTATIONS, i.e. filled us with hope for the future, for the betterment of our country.  His is a carefully balanced message, that plenty of things need fixing but we will come out of this a stronger, healthier society.  Common sense, honesty, consistency and leadership by example have been the stalwarts of his young administration.

The most recent controversy, that of President Obama’s refusal to release the latest photographs of our torture techniques, at first glance appears to run counter-intuitive to his progressive policies.  Not true.  It is ironic that the truly repressive regime of Bush/Cheney actually DID release the Abu Ghraib photos while our current administration refuses to.  But it DOES make sense and here is the why and wherefore.  Bush/Cheney ruled this country by making us petrified about what COULD happen in a post 9/11 world.  All of their restrictive, illegal programs were based on the fear factor and they used this hateful, divisive tactic to allow them carte blanche to violate and show contempt for all that is sacred in our Constitution and accepted international law.

President Obama, on the other hand, has told us that he can not release those photos because that would almost assuredly endanger the lives of our soldiers abroad and result in retaliatory actions.  These violent acts occurred during the last administration, NOT during the Obama tenure.  So politically, President Obama is not driven by self-serving motives to hold back these photos.  He is not denying that they exist.  He has been absolutely forthright in his admission that the former administration carried out those atrocious acts and, in fact,  one of the first items on his agenda after taking office was to outlaw these illegal forms of torture.  Now he must weigh the pros and cons of his policies and he has decided it would be safest to withhold publication of such horrible events.  So while Bush/Cheney allowed the public release of their horrendous policies to scare the beejeezus out of us in order to ultimately allow them to justify even more horrific tactics, President Obama acknowledged these acts of torture but deemed it wiser to withhold dissemination of graphic pictures.  Yes, maybe counter-intuitive at first perusal.  But in the end, it makes perfect sense.  Above all, President Obama’s honesty, balanced by his take on the probable repercussions on the international front, shines through.

Dick Cheney is a sorry excuse for a human being even more so in his retirement than in his service to country.  His attempts at legacy building and face saving are contemptible, embarrassing and pathetic.  I, for one, have all my chips on President Obama’s promised, and so far true to his word, path towards honesty, transparency, justice and human decency.

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2 Responses to “Cheney’s Legacy Versus Obama’s Reality”

  1. Natalie R Says:

    Have to disagree with your cherubic Obama comments here. Glenn Greewald is a magnificent thinker and writer for Salon. I like to try to read him as much as possible. He makes such a good points always and on this one he is I think exactly correct. Obama is afraid of the photos coming out which will make the Arab world angry? Look at the photo taken yesterday of the American bombing of Afghanistan. This is JUST exactly what I do NOT want and what I voted for Obama to change. I realize Al Qaeda must be stopped but we cannot do it by the wily nily aerial bombardment which kills SO many civilians or imprisoning them ad infinitum forever without trial. Does he think Al Arabia or Al Jezera will not show THESE bombing photos? Makes NO sense…none. This is NOT what we signed up for. I just do NOT get him and I think that maybe he is listening too much to the military. This is EXACTLY what president Kennedy did NOT do in the Cuban missal crisis. He did NOT listen to the military which would have started nuclear WWIII over stupid missals in Cuba. He did listen to the military at the Bay of Pigs and saw how bad it was. The military are fighters as they should be, they are killers really. That is what men like Lt. Gen. McChristol soon to be general or Odierno do. Lets call it like it is the military is there to kill no more no less so they are advising him from a MILITARY point of view and not a civilian point of view and he’s taking their advice. It’s dangerous and, in my opinion, dead (pardon the pun) wrong.

    We elected him for transparency, we elected him to not ratchet up wars but end them. Is this what people want for their children and grandchildren endless, continuous and never ending war, always for as long as they live?

    How many have we killed between Iraq, Afghanistan and even Pakistan, how many refugees are there, how many wounded. It must be 500 times that were killed in 9/11 by now don’t you think? When does this end before God forbid a trillion times bombs are falling in our midst.

    I hope I am wrong. I do not know for sure as we are not privy to all the info. That’s what I said when the idiot invaded Iraq but really we DID know the info … there was NONE! Read Greenwald’s column below.

    http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/05/14/afghanistan/

  2. Natalie R Says:

    p.s. when you click on the link you must also click on “Enter Salon” which is in the upper right hand corner. They of course like to put an ad there to get you to buy something. If you click to Enter it will bring you to a picture of a baby who was the recipient of one of our bombs — obviously NOT a pretty picture. There are hundreds more like it and you can be sure it will be spread throughout the Arab world inflaming passions even more as if they needed to be inflamed any more.

    Just by admitting these torture pictures exist and NOT putting them out makes people ESPECIALLY in the Arab world angry despite not seeing the pics. They KNOW what they must look like. One can be sure, I think, if they were not so bad or represented as Obama said “a few bad apples” they would have been released. My guess is they are horrendous and reprsent more than a few bad apples. They represent the policy of torture, sanctioned, commissioned and lied about at the very top of the Bush administration. The orders came from on high up to and including Bush but most especially Cheney. In Nuremberg style I believe they ALL should be indicted, tried and if found guilty imprisoned. At some point IF Obama does not act he becomes an accompliss to the crime. I hope that does not happen.

    This must never happen again in any administration Democrat or Republican. Yes, it’s happened before but this makes it imperative nothing is every signed off on an illegal rancid policy as torture.

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