I’ve written a fair bit elsewhere about yesterday’s two speeches and how we ought to think about them and I won’t bother to repeat it here but I will steer you to Michael Tomasky’s piece in the Guardian this morning.
But the second issue here is psychological, and this cuts much deeper than politics. Cheney wants Americans to live in fear. He believes that we should be living in more or less constant fear of another attack. I suppose it probably occurred to him over the years that, when a people are whipped into a fearful state, they tend to hand their leaders more power. But now he’s out of office, so this can’t be his motivation. I think it’s just how he sees the world.
Obama wants to move people beyond fear. “If we continue to make decisions from within a climate of fear,” he said, “we will make more mistakes.” Are the American people up to this? More to the point – and more depressing to consider – are Washington politicians? We will find out as this debate plays out.
Let’s cut to the chase: If, God forbid, there is another terrorist attack on America, Cheney has with this speech ensured that rather than uniting behind the sitting administration – as conservatives insisted we all must do eight years ago – this country will be torn in two. That’s a very toxic and dangerous game, and it certainly won’t make for a stronger country. NOw who’s playing politics with national security?