Liz Cheney makes some news in this interview, directly accusing Obama of endangering the lives of our troops and announcing that her group will be discussing economic issues as well. She explains that the nation’s economy — the $1.4 trillion deficit and the weakened dollar, for example — is an issue of national security. Is Obama “more radical than she thought”? Yes, she says, reminding us of the soothing rhetoric (“not a collection of Red states and Blue states, but the United States of America”) that convinced so many Americans that Obama would be a break from the past.
I’m struck by several things in the interview. The first is tone. Cheney delivers a very tough message with serenity and with no trace of anger. It defies the image of the grumpy or angry conservative. To borrow a phrase, she has a “superior temperament.” And that temperament stands in contrast, ironically, to Obama’s. He used to be the calm one but now is increasingly seen as partisan and testy.
Second, there is an opening for Cheney’s message precisely because Obama has proved to be a more radical figure than most imagined. Had he made a definitive decision on Afghanistan or decided against throwing the netroots a bunch of bones by investigating CIA interrogators and discontinuing the full funding of key defense programs (e.g., F-22, missile defense), there would be much less for her to talk about. It’s only because Obama chose a George McGovern model over a Bill Clinton model that there is so much running room to his right.
And finally, notice the lawyerly indictment of the White House operatives’ attack on Fox. They are launching a “secondary boycott,” she says — trying to induce others not to do business with Fox or rely on its reports. No, she’s not readying a lawsuit. But you can see her analytical mind at work and her ability to marshal an argument. She’s making her point: the White House is behaving in unprecedented and entirely inappropriate ways. Her political opponents certainly are going to have their hands full with her.