About Dick Cheney: How the Old Media Creates a False Attack
By: Warner Todd Huston
The newest false meme invented by the Old Media is this claim that ex-presidents and ex-vice presidents have some sort of “tradition of silence” where it concerns commenting on those that take residence in the White House after they leave. The reason the Old Media is pushing this false claim is because Dick Cheney has been commenting on Obama’s security mistakes and the Old Media wants to scold Cheney for his efforts to get the truth to the people.
Certainly it is true that some ex-chief executives have maintained silence after they left office. Still, it isn’t really true that there has been any long tradition of staying silent out of some sort of respect for the new president. But, no matter how many past presidents/vice presidents have remained quiet, the one glaring exception to that so-called tradition is the vp just before Cheney: Al Gore. And this man has been absent in the Media’s attack on Cheney.
Think about it. Can you remember any report by any Old Media outlet that excoriated Al Gore for his constant, wild-eyed, screaming fits against the Bush administration for the last 8 years? Where was the Old Media tsk tsking Gore for, say, his 2004 appearance where he screamed at the top of his lungs that Bush “betrayed this country,” and the “he played on our fears”? (Audio here) Why is Cheney a big meanie as far as the media is concerned for commenting on Obama, yet Al Gore was never reproached even once for attacking Bush and Cheney?
Hypocritically, there wasn’t any such Old Media attacks on Gore. No Old Media outlet shook their heads or wagged their accusatory fingers at Al Gore for the slobbering, uncivil outbursts that he engaged in and still engages in. Yet, here they are attacking Cheney for his outspokenness against Obama’s policies. For that matter, the Old Media have also ignored Clinton and Carter’s constant verbal diarrhea.
Nonetheless here we see the newest Old Media meme against Cheney being promulgated all over the place. The New York Times, CBS, MSNBC, etc., etc. They are all falling in line with the anti-Cheney talking points. Here is a recent CBS report for instance:
As the New York Times noted this morning, former Vice President Dick Cheney has been a vocal and consistent critic of President Obama since leaving office. That’s something of a break from the past: Traditionally, presidents and vice presidents have stayed relatively quiet about the activities of their successors.
But, even the recent example of Al Gore, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter excoriating any president not of their party (heck, Carter even went after Bill Clinton a few times) we can also go back into history and see ex presidents that have attacked presidents that followed them. Teddy Roosevelt, for instance was vicious against Woodrow Wilson. For that matter, he ripped William Howard Taft — his own hand picked successor — too.
But, here is the main point that makes silly this claim that vice presidents have some sort of tradition of remaining silent. You see, for the most part, vice presidents have been meaningless to the greater national debate. They were non-entites while in office and no one cared to hear from them afterward. They stayed silent because no one asked them their impressions. They were silent by default.
Does anyone remember the post White House career of Alben Barkley? How about Thomas Marshall? What happened to Charles Dawes? No one really cared. But, let’s look at a few other ex-vice presidents that were well known for ripping administrations that came after theirs.
FDR’s first vp, “Cactus Jack” Garner was not very happy with Roosevelt and when he left he was known to have harsh words for the man. Another of FDRs vps, Henry Wallace, ripped the next administration and almost won election to the presidency in his own right until Truman started fighting back. Nixon was no shrinking violet after he stopped being vp with Ike, as we all know.
We might even say that Franklin Roosevelt himself fits this bill. He ran for vice president in 1920 with James Cox of Ohio and lost. FDR certainly didn’t remain quiet about all the administrations that came after 1920!
But, let’s face the truth about this newest attack against Cheney. Some ex-presidents have remained quiet out of a feeling of respect for later administrations. Ike and H.W.Bush are some of the few. Also, many ex-vice presidents remained quiet because no one cared to hear from them. Yet, still others went on the war path against later administrations as they attempted to run for office themselves.
In the final analysis this claim that presidents and vice presidents “traditionally” remain quiet about future administrations is just a pile of horse manure. So, why is the Old Media plying this claim over an over again? Why else but to have just one more reason to beat up on Dick Cheney.
But what would you expect?