The media framing of today’s national security speeches by Barack Obama and Dick Cheney as a sort of “showdown at noon” has struck me as pretty bizarre. And yet….I just read both speeches and I have to admit that it’s really not so bizarre after all: they could hardly form a starker contrast if they tried. Obama’s speech is all about the rule of law, honoring American values, creating policies that look beyond just today and tomorrow, and trying to figure out how to gain genuine security in a dangerous and complicated world. Conservatives are going to absolutely howl over it.
And then there’s Cheney: no regrets, no second thoughts, not even an admission that any kind of balance should be entertained (“In the fight against terrorism…half-measures keep you half exposed”). It’s a pure, white hot defense of an absolutist military approach to every aspect of national security. Among liberals, Cheney’s reputation as a panic-stricken Buck Turgidson will be confirmed beyond doubt.
I want to read both of the speeches before I say any more. But really, the contrast is truly spectacular. It’s worth your time to read them if you haven’t already.
UPDATE: David Corn has a good summary here. Jacob Heilbrunn has a good take here.