President Obama vs. Dick Cheney

Dueling speeches on how to protect America from terrorists

President Obama and Dick Cheney have delivered their dueling national security speeches, said Chris Cillizza in The Washington Post. “Let the analysis begin!” Obama argued that keeping America safe is his main priority, but that Guantánamo Bay and waterboarding are part of the problem, not the solution. In the Cheney speech, the former vice president argued that Obama “is too worried about political correctness to recognize that the policies of the last president have worked in keeping the country safe.”

The Cheney speech was built on a faulty premise, said Jack Goldsmith in The New Republic. Obama hasn’t reversed Bush-era counterterrorism policies—he's really just pushing similar policies with better the packaging. The adjustments he has made, including moving to close Guantánamo and ban torture, “are designed to fortify the bulk of the Bush program for the long run” by shoring up global support for our cause.

The idea in Obama's “platitudinous and preachy” speech that making anti-terror policy more palatable will make it more effective is what you'd expect from a young senator and law professor, said William Kristol in The Weekly Standard. Cheney’s defense of the Bush administration's national security record was the speech you’d expect from a “grown-up,” a “chief executive,” a “statesman.” Obama has “pseudo-thoughtful ideas” about how to keep America safe—Cheney knows how to do it from experience.

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