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Turning Up The Heat On Barack Obama

Leave it to Dick Cheney to teach Tareq Salahi a thing or two about how to crash a big event.

On the eve of Barack Obama's most important address as president, Cheney managed to (temporarily) grab the spotlight when he told Politico that the commander in chief was weak and letting politics affect his military decisions. A sampler:

"Every time he delays, defers, debates, changes his position, it begins to raise questions: Is the commander in chief really behind what they've been asked to do?"

Or this gem:

"Here's a guy without much experience, who campaigned against much of what we put in place ... and who now travels around the world apologizing," Cheney said. "I think our adversaries -- especially when that's preceded by a deep bow ... -- see that as a sign of weakness."

Just why the ex-VP keeps popping off remains full-time fodder for the media, but Cheney's looking more partisan with each headline that he makes. James Fallows is spot on when he notes the contrast with President George W. Bush, who has "maintained a dignified distance from public controversies and let the new team have its chance. He has acted as if aware that there are national interests larger than his own possible interests in score-settling or reputational-repair."

I wonder how many of his former supporters would agree. The anger on the right seems deeper than anything expressed during the Clinton era. The timing was accidental but the former vice president's latest outburst coincided with a remarkable cri de coeur by Charles Johnson, the creator of the once conservative blog Little Green Footballs why he's parting with the right wing. Of course, when Johnson wrote that "the American right wing has gone off the rails, into the bushes, and off the cliff," he had no way of knowing that Cheney was about to put his pacemaker into overdrive and let loose with another of the periodic salvos he's fired at the Obama administration since leaving the White House.

Johnson had to know he was going to spark a firestorm by breaching the right's narrative of the history of the last eight years. Conservatives, who are quick to complain about political correctness, turn out to be remarkably PC when it comes to their own sacred cows.

The reaction from Johnson's former ideological allies ranged from well, he's disturbed and confused, to the guy is simply thuggish and execrable.

Is he really all that horrid? I've read Johnson over the years and never found him to be that bad, even when I've disagreed with his positions. But chalk it up to the right's deepening anger at Mr. Obama's decision to break with the Bush-Cheney foreign - or domestic - policy. Commentary's Jennifer Rubin offered up a textbook example of what I mean with this masterpiece of fiction presented as an accurate representation of facts on the ground:

"It is December, and in less than a year Cheney now represents a good deal of mainstream thinking, both in the Beltway and among ordinary Americans. That's how far we've come. Meanwhile, Obama is increasingly seen as ideologically misguided and temperamentally at a loss to deal with the plethora of international challenges, which will only increase as a worldwide audience takes in his haphazard performance."

I don't know whether Cheney could have have put it any better.

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