Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cheney Rips Obama Administration on Afghanistan - There's a Pattern Here

Via Hot Air Dick Cheney gave a speech last night that laid into the Obama administration for "dithering" on Afghanistan. Here is a key portion of the speech:
Recently, President Obama’s advisors have decided that it’s easier to blame the Bush Administration than support our troops. This weekend they leveled a charge that cannot go unanswered. The President’s chief of staff claimed that the Bush Administration hadn’t asked any tough questions about Afghanistan, and he complained that the Obama Administration had to start from scratch to put together a strategy.

In the fall of 2008, fully aware of the need to meet new challenges being posed by the Taliban, we dug into every aspect of Afghanistan policy, assembling a team that repeatedly went into the country, reviewing options and recommendations, and briefing President-elect Obama’s team. They asked us not to announce our findings publicly, and we agreed, giving them the benefit of our work and the benefit of the doubt. The new strategy they embraced in March, with a focus on counterinsurgency and an increase in the numbers of troops, bears a striking resemblance to the strategy we passed to them. They made a decision – a good one, I think – and sent a commander into the field to implement it.

Now they seem to be pulling back and blaming others for their failure to implement the strategy they embraced. It’s time for President Obama to do what it takes to win a war he has repeatedly and rightly called a war of necessity.
The Bush team assembles a team to focus on what needed to be done in Afghanistan, the Obama team was briefed fully and a strategy was implemented with the agreement of the Obama team.  When the Obama administration is plagued with indecision when they actually have to govern, they claim the Bush administration left them in a position to start from scratch.  Obviously this is a lie, an outright lie.

This is the second time I have noticed someone from the Bush administration calling the Obama administration out for outright lying about what happened in the transition and laying blame on Bush for their own inability to govern.  In a post back in June Keith Hennessey called out Dr. Austen Goolsbee for incorrect and inflammatory statements on what occurred during the transition with respect to loans to the auto industry:
Hennessey cited a portion of Goolsbee's statements from an appearance on Chris Wallace's show back when the administration actually appeared on Fox programs:

The President made totally clear in his remarks, and he specifically said we are not going to be in the business of telling General Motors or anybody else what kind of cars to make, where they should open their plants, or anything of the sort.  The President made clear we want to get out of this as quickly as possible.  We are only in this situation because somebody else kicked the can down the road, and that’s really an understatement.  They shook up the can, they opened the can, and handed to us in our laps.  Senator Shelby knows that to be true.  When George Bush put money in to General Motors, almost explicitly with the purpose, how many dollars do they need to stay alive until January 20th, 2009?  There was no commitment to restructuring, to making these viable enterprises of any kind. They made none of the serious sacrifices.  And Republicans in the Senate attached a list of conditions, they opposed George Bush’s intervention, because they said the unions had not made the following sacrifices.  In the Obama plan, it asked more and received more from the unions and from the other stakeholders than the people that objected to the bailout last November asked for.  So we have finally put them on that path.
Hennessey then laid out what actually happened during the transition which was quite different than Goolsbee's recollection.  A meeting was held on November 30, 2008 at the request of the Bush administration, with members of the Bush and Obama teams in attendance to establish a plan to deal with looming failures of the auto industry.   The Obama team listened to the plan yet never responded or offered alternative suggestions for dealing with the crisis.  Left without guidance on how the incoming administration wanted to proceed, the Bush team worked with the Democratic Congress to enact legislation to make funds available to firms that could be economically viable.  The Congress left for Christmas without having addressed the issue.  Rather than leaving the incoming President with an economic situation made worse by failing auto industry Bush chose to make the loans to the auto industry.

As Hennessey points out this was a politically unpopular decision and reasonable people can take issue with Bush's actions in the absence of input from the incoming administration.  In the case Cheney points out, the Obama administration was responsive to the Bush teams strategy but still fails to follow through when faced with the responsibility of governing.  In Hennessey's case the Obama team was completely unresponsive yet ended up following the plan suggested by the Bush administration though Bush had no intentions of implementing government ownership of GM.  In both cases they blame the Bush administration and deliberately distort their own involvement or lack thereof to deal with important issues.  This is both childish and dishonest.  While it may have served some political purpose initially, the blame Bush strategy of governing is worn out.  Continued calls to grap a mop when the President seems completely unaware of what to do with one when it is placed in his hands, show this President for what he is, all talk -  no action.

Here is the full speech Cheney delivered last night, it is well worth watching.

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