The Narcissism of Small Differences
So we just got dueling Obama/Cheney speeches on the War on Terror, each consistent with each man’s respective style. Obama’s cool, professorial, methodical–and crediting the American people with a longer attention span than we’ve got. Cheney’s gruff, clipped, and forceful. He mentioned 9/11 25 times and even got a shot in at the New York Times. As I argue here, Cheney and Obama have developed a weird, codependent relationship:
the claim that Obama has abandoned “essential tools” in the fight against terror is wearing pretty thin. Real civil libertarians aren’t fooled by Obama’s “kinder, gentler” rhetoric, but Obama knows that civil libertarians are a miniscule voting block. His aim is to convince Democratic voters that he’s kept his promises to change Bush’s draconian approach to the war on terror.
In this, Dick Cheney is an enormous asset to the president. As Obama quietly adopts the Bush policies, Cheney gives him cover by loudly insisting that there’s a meaningful difference here.
It’s a very Washington sort of partnership: an argument so grating that you could be fooled into thinking there’s some great difference of principle here. Sort of like the Carville-Matalin marriage.