Friday, June 29, 2007
By Steven L. Taylor

Some of you may have read Jonah Goldberg’s piece in praise (and with some criticism) of Dick Cheney from earlier in the week. I read it, but really didn’t have much of anything to say about it at the time (although I will say that my views on Cheney are better captured–although by no means perfectly–by David Broder’s piece this week).

At any rate, Goldberg’s piece led to a guest appearance on Tucker Carlson’s MSNBC show (no, I haven’t ever watched the show either). Glenn Greenwald picks out some quotes of note from the interchange, and several of them struck me as odd (Greenwald’s comments on secrecy and trusting government are worth reading).

Some of the quotes leaped out at me, and wanting to see them in context, I surfed over to the MSNBC transcript. The quotes which especially got my attention are in the following extremely odd (in my opinion, anyway) discussion:

CARLSON: Have you ever seen Dick Cheney give a speech? I mean, the contempt for the audience is palpable. He doesn‘t, he doesn‘t—he tells a joke that‘s written into his speech, he doesn‘t wait for them to laugh, he just blows right through it.

GOLDBERG: I know, I—see, I love that. He looks like he should be eating a sandwich while he‘s doing it, you know. I mean, it‘s just this sort of like matter-of-fact, eating lunch over the sink. Oh yes, and by the way, here is my view of the world. I love that.

CARLSON: Every time he speaks, I have the same thought. I can just see him yelling, hey you kids, get off my lawn. I love it.
And I‘m glad to find someone else who will stand up for Dick Cheney. You are almost—you‘re almost alone in this nation of 300 million.

Jonah, I really appreciate you coming on, thank you.

[Emphasis mine].

Now, can someone explain to me why anyone would want an elected official to hold any audience to whom he is speaking in contempt? Why is that a good thing?

In regards to being the grumpy guy who yells at the kids to get off his lawn, that might be amusing in a sitcom character, but I don’t see why that is the demeanor that one would admire in the Vice President of the United States.

I do understand the partisan attack dog element of Cheney’s personality that would appeal to Goldberg and Carlson, but when are people going to realize that governing is not just about scoring partisan points? Goldberg and Carlson are both very concerned about the War on Terror–do they really think that the most effective counter-terrorism policies will be generated in an atmosphere where one of the chief architects/public faces of that policy demonstrates palpable contempt for his audiences?

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5 Responses to “Loving Contempt?”

  1. Steve Plunk Says:

    The “contempt” they speak of is nothing more than Cheney being sure of his position and not caring how others my criticize that position. It would be better characterized as confidence. Some people see that as arrogance and some people see that as contempt. I see it as leadership.

    I like Cheney and have liked him since he was defense secretary. No nonsense and quick to the point. He has been made a scapegoat in this administration mostly because of his leadership and confidence. I see his current position of standing up to flippant investigations causing more heartburn for those who oppose him and his boss.

  2. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    Isn’t it problematic, however, that much of Cheney’s “confidence” has been deployed when he was speaking in error. He said a great deal about Iraq that has simply be proven to be wrong.

    And leadership to where? What are the exact successes of this administration? Where has this leadership gotten us, precisely?

    Also: while one doesn’t want leaders who constantly second guess themselves, surely it is the job of a democratically elected official to give some consideration to what the citizenry thinks.

  3. Steve Plunk Says:

    I see your points but would counter from my conservative viewpoint that: a) as much as errors have been made in the war (errors are made in any war) some things have been done right and the basic reasoning behind going to war is still solid in my mind. b) This conservative actually sees nothing getting done as a good thing sometimes. In Oregon we say get the women and children off the streets when the legislature is in session. The same mentality applies to our national government. We may not be where we want to be but perhaps this administration has done a good job not letting things get worse. Perhaps. c) Consideration of what citizens want is probably best done during closed door meetings, not on the podium or with the press. A public persona of strong leadership should inspire confidence and help sway those on the fence. Imagine a national leader who gives a speech saying something akin to “we are certain our approach to the problem is sound but we would like to gauge national opinion before we do anything”. It does not inspire confidence.

    That grumpy bald guy is serious about his work and looks like it.

  4. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    Yes, but we aren’t talking about just “some” errors in this war. The whole policy has largely failed and certainly most of the more dramatic pronouncement by the Veep in regards to Iraq have proven to be untrue. He was both quite dire about the consequences of not taking out Saddam as well as incredibly optimistic about how well the war would go. Both arguments have proven to be wildly incorrect.

    Also: my point was not that nothing was getting done, but rather that which has been attempted hasn’t gone too well.

    Plus, I am not sure how you reconcile your argument that nothing is getting done while simultaneously praising Cheney for his leadership and such.

    Indeed, from a small-government point of view, I find Cheney to be disturbing as he clearly believes in using the power of the federal government in an expansive way in regards to security as directed towards domestic operations.

    And why, in a democracy, would it be preferable to for things to be done behind closed doors? Doesn’t the government, and the money used to pay for it, belong to us?

  5. Nancy Irving Says:

    Besides, aren’t most (all?) of the audiences Cheney speaks to, Republican?

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