While former President George W. Bush has retired to painting, his second-in-command Dick Cheney remains a painful presence on the talk show circuit. The former vice president appeared on Fox News Sunday this weekend to deliver a strong criticism of Obama, saying the President has not been "standup" and "forthright" about the September 2012 Benghazi attack. What Cheney fails to recognize, though, that he is undermined by his own refusal to recognize mistakes made during his time as vice president.
Cheney is largely credited with championing two wars, constructing the current national security apparatus, enabling warrantless wiretapping, advanced incredible theories of Iraqi WMDs, was instrumental in the establishment of GITMO, and introduced "waterboarding" into the vernacular. He even once urged Bush to bomb a Syrian nuclear reactor, prompting the president to roll his eyes. Despite this deep legacy of controversy, Cheney says he has no regrets, adding "I don't spend much time thinking about my flaws. I guess that's the answer." As the maxim goes, one should always beware of a man with no regrets.
While many Republicans since 2006, including presidential nominee John McCain, have wanted nothing to do with the Bush administration, Cheney has continued to surface. This very attitude has earned him the reputation of being a conservative hero to his fans, and Darth Vader to his critics, including many in his own party. Regardless of how one views the Bush years, it is evident that there is ample room for doubt, if not regret.
Discussing the Syrian conflict, Cheney says the Obama response was not "well handled," by an Obama administration that "lacks credibility." Cheney of all people should understand that the perspective within government is much different than that of the less informed public. He himself has long stressed the unique perspective of a leader with access to confidential information.
Nevertheless, Cheney insists that his conclusions are somehow more informed than those of President Obama: "[The threat of terrorism] is not winding down … The threat's bigger than ever. So, he's just dead wrong on the status of the threat."
Dick Cheney fails to recognize that he and Obama are in fact very similar, which is probably why he finds it so easy to attack Obama while claiming infallibility. "Dick Cheney and Barack Obama share one leadership trait," the Atlantic writes, "they trust their own judgment so thoroughly, and value it so highly, that they recklessly undermine all institutional and prudential restraints on their ability to exercise it whenever they see fit."
While his eight years in office, and many years of public service before that, have given former Vice President Cheney a unique source of political perspective, an inability to first recognize mistakes made during his tenure discredit what could otherwise be worthwhile commentary. While President Bush recognizes the difficulties and tough decisions of leadership and so has said that Obama "deserves my silence," Cheney's incessant hypocrisy exemplifies the prevalent narcissism that is the Cheney doctrine.