Wednesday, January 24, 2007

It won’t stop us

TPM has the transcript of Dick Cheney’s interview on CNN before CNN does. He insists that the world is “much safer” because we invaded Iraq, and claims that Saddam was “not being contained” and had in fact “corrupted the entire effort to try to keep him contained.” He emphatically denies Wolf Blitzer’s comment that there is a terrible situation there: “No, there is not. There is not. There’s problems, ongoing problems, but we have, in fact, accomplished our objectives of getting rid of the old regime, and there is a new regime in place that’s been there for less than a year, far too soon for you guys to write them off.”

Asked about Maliki cozying up to Iran and Syria rather than “moderate” but Sunni-dominated nations, Cheney says, “He’s also an Iraqi. He’s not a Persian. There’s a big difference between the Persians and the Arabs, although they’re both Shia.” So what we’re counting on is that ethnic bigotry will be more powerful than sectarian hatred.

Asked whether the Bushies’ credibility is hurt by their blunders, Cheney says, “I simply don’t accept the premise of your question. I just think it’s hogwash.” In fact, he spends most of the interview saying that various things are wrong, that he disagrees with them, etc. A lot of blank refutations, “that’s dead wrong”s, not a lot of rational discussion.

But then, when he did try that, he compared Iraq now to Afghanistan, where the US was “actively involved” in the 1980s but then just “walked away,” which led to Taliban rule, which led to the Cole and 9/11: “That is what happens when we walk away from a situation like that in the Middle East.” Osama has lived in all sorts of countries, and planned and coordinated terrorist attacks in each one. Should we have invaded all of them? Also, rather than “walk away,” what is it he thinks we should have done in Afghanistan in the 1980s and ‘90s?

He says of the Senate non-binding resolution, which I think hadn’t passed out of the Foreign Relations Committee when the interview was taped, “It won’t stop us, and it would be, I think detrimental from the standpoint of the troops”.

He again says that the reason Iraqi Shiites don’t “stand up and take responsibility” is that Saddam had hammered them into submissiveness.

Bush did this too: asked whether he thinks Maliki will go after Sadr, Cheney evaded: “I think he has demonstrated a willingness to take on any elements that violate the law.” Asked twice point-blank if Sadr should be arrested, he finally said, “Wolf, you’ve got to let Nouri al Maliki deal with the situation as he sees fit. And I think he will.”

Cheney insisted that Wolf was “out of line” to ask about the Christian Right’s criticism of Mary Cheney getting herself knocked up. So Wolf was out of line, but Cheney didn’t bother to work up any indignation towards Focus on the Family. Neither did he stand up for his daughter.

So, George, how’d the speech go over?

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