On leaving office, GWB obviously decided to play it old school, letting his successor have his 100 days and assuming, no doubt, that Obama would give him the same cover that RN gave LBJ by not overtly scapegoating him. The preponderance of Obama's public comments makes clear that this is where his heart is. But with the left (significantly abetted by the world's most influential blogger, Andrew Sullivan) defying him and demanding torture prosecutions, I think Cheney heard the rumble of footsteps heading for the Bastille and decided that he was not about to sit meekly and wait for the knock on the palace door.
Have his sometimes aggressive-sounding interviews encouraged his critics? Maybe just a little. And yet by the same token, by essentially saying, "You want a piece of me?", he's rallied both the right and the pragmatic middle (including people such as I, not that anyone's listening) and thus increased the political danger to Obama if he permits a witch hunt. Right now I hear official Washington -- government and media elites alike -- concurring 1) we need to get to the bottom of torture but 2) without legally scapegoating individuals in the prior administration, which would tear the country apart....
Richard Nixon ended up being a perfect scapegoat for Vietnam. In a way, his resignation helped us avoid ever having to come to terms with the war. My guess is that Cheney has decided he doesn't want to go gently into the San Clemente sunset.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Dick Cheney: Elusive Scapegoat
At The New Nixon, reflections on Cheney, Nixon, and scapegoats. From my reply to historian and former archivist Maarja Krusten: