Opinion: Gore to Cheney: Pipe down, Vice

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Echoing today’s Times editorial comparing the poisonous effects Fidel Castro and Dick Cheney are having on the administrations that succeeded them, Al Gore this morning called on Cheney to stand down and quit the fear-mongering over President Obama’s torture ban:

In a CNN interview this morning, former Vice President Gore got involved in the political feud over his successor Dick Cheney. Gore said he wished Cheney would have given President Obama more time in office before criticizing national security policy. A stern critic of Bush policy over the years, Gore told CNN’s John Roberts that ‘I waited for two years after I left office to make statements that were critical, and then of policy.’


Gore may be speaking up in defense of the current Democratic administration, but his words can also be taken as free strategy advice for the GOP. As an article in the Washington Post Thursday pointed out, the guy who serves as the public face of the Bush administration’s failure (and was never very good at public relations to begin with) isn’t the best one for the GOP to spotlight right now. A Gallup poll released in early April shows that a nearly filibuster-proof majority of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of former vice president. Quoth an unnamed GOP strategist in the Washington Post piece:

‘Even if he’s right, he’s absolutely the wrong messenger,’ this strategist said. His main worry, he added, is that Cheney keeps the public focused on the past, rather than the future. ‘We want Bush to be a very distant memory in the next election. The more Cheney is on the front burner, the more difficult it’s going to be.’

In the same article, former Cheney spokeswoman Mary Matalin speculates that his principles led him to speak out, and that he was provoked by Obama’s precipitous move to reverse policies that he strongly believes in:

‘If Barack Obama had come in and done what he said he was going to do and look at the stuff and see what is working, then Cheney would have continued to do what he was doing -- working on memoirs, finishing his house,’ she said. ‘He’s got a good life. He’s got stuff going on. He doesn’t care about being on TV. There’s no more politics there. He’s not settling any scores. He just wants people to understand.’

Torture works, in other words. With the ex-VP motivated by such ghoulish ‘principles,’ the GOP may be dealing with its Cheney problem for far longer than it wants.

Cheney photo credit: Karin Cooper / AP
Gore photo credit: Eric Piermont / AFP/Getty Images