Tales from the Trail

In the other White House war …

October 23, 2009

USA/He almost said it, but he didn’t. Vice President Joe Biden, who has a reputation for verbal gaffes, almost asked “Who cares?” but stopped himself, when he weighed in on the White House’s latest war of words with his predecessor, former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Cheney, a repeated critic of the Obama administration’s foreign policy initiatives, this week accused President Barack Obama of “dithering” and being scared to make a decision on whether to send more troops to Afghanistan.

“I think that is absolutely wrong. I think what the administration is doing is exactly what we said it would do.  And what I think it warrants doing. And that is making an informed judgment based upon circumstances that have changed … to come up with a sustainable policy that has more than one dimension,” Biden told pool reporters traveling with him at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence in Prague.

But the Democratic vice president worked hard to keep his foot firmly out of his mouth, after looking piqued when asked about Cheney’s suggestion that Republican former President George W. Bush’s administration had left behind a thorough assessment of the Afghanistan war, according to a pool report.

“Well, look, I don’t …” Biden said, and then paused, the report said.  “Who cares what …” he began again, sounding annoyed. He paused again, looking as though he wanted to stuff the words back in his mouth.

“Well, let me put it maybe,” he said, and he paused a third time, glancing at communications director Jay Carney with a smile, the report said.

“Yeah, yeah, I know. I can see the headline now,” Biden said, shaking his head. “I’m getting better, guys. I’m getting a little bit better, you know what I mean?”

Obama has been holding meetings with top advisers to review a request for 40,000 more troops for Afghanistan from General Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. and NATO commander there. Obama said he wants to make a thorough review of the request before making a decision.

“A whole lot has changed in the last year. A whole lot’s changed,” Biden said. “So the idea – even if they did – let’s assume they left us a review that was absolutely correct, is that review relevant and totally applicable to today in light of the changes that have taken place in the region, in Afghanistan itself? So I think that is sort of irrelevant. Not sort of, I think it’s irrelevant.”

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Larry Downing (Biden gestures during a ceremonial event with Cheney on Capitol Hill, January 6, 2009)

Comments
13 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Cheney complaining about Obama?

Well, let’s examine the 8 years of Bush & Cheney et al –

#1 dropped the ball in Afghanistan so Bush & Cheney could start a war in Iraq for Bush’s ego and Bush & Cheney’s oil buddies using lies about WMD, etc.

#2 “Mission Accomplished”

#3 no plan for Iraq after initial “victory”

#4 ignored growing Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan

#5 no-bid contracts for Cheney’s Halliburton

#6 “Bring em on”

#7 ignored growing Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan

#8 Abu-Ghraib

#9 Katrina, Katrina, Katrina — heck of a job, Brown!

#10 ignored growing Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan

#11 promoted “deregulation” of business while big business laid off workers, outsourced jobs to foreign countries, cut benefits to workers who still had jobs

#12 promoted “self-regulation” of the financial sector while derivatives and hedge funds were being used to scam everyone, while big business used loop-holes not to pay taxes

#13 ignored calls for more troops by commanders in Afghanistan while ignoring growing Taliban resurgence

#14 supported “laissez-faire” (hands-off) economic ideology while allowing fraudulent mortgages, banking schemes, etc. to run amok

#15 malfeasance, corruption

#16 outed a CIA cooperative to punish her husband for speaking the truth

#17 ignored growing Taliban resurgence

I could go on and on, but I would get carpal tunnel syndrome….

Posted by abby | Report as abusive
 

Causes one to wonder how many points x-pres. Cheney has in Haliburton. He’s just stumping for cash. Zosima

Posted by Steve Brown | Report as abusive
 

I think “who cares” would have been the best response.

The ad hoc war firm of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle, Wolfowitz and Feith was supremely unconcerned with the facts on the ground at the time(s) of their decision-making. And it led to a series of massive blunders that we are still recovering from. Despite that – or more likely due to a serious personnel change in the latter half of that administration – the report provided a year ago did indeed reflect the facts on the ground… a year ago. The problem is, this is a year later and those are last years’ facts.

Certainly if this administration were to adopt the last administration’s methodology, last year’s facts might be just peachy. But this administration’s marching orders are a bit more complicated. That would be making strategic decisions based on real time information, not ideology, wishful thinking, or last year’s facts.

For example: It appears that Pakistan has finally figured out which side of the fight it is on. NATO is actually making noises of commitment. Those were not the facts a year ago. On the down side, our puppet government in Afghanistan has just turned out to be a fraud and does not have the support of its people and is losing UN support. That was not a fact a year ago, either.

Anyway, back to the main point: Cheney et al screwed up so badly that if they came to my door peddling advice, my response would be “Find somebody who cares what you say”.

Posted by Ryno | Report as abusive
 

I believe this story is reported incorrectly.

Mr Biden did in fact say “Who cares.” And he’s correct.

What he stopped himself from saying was “Who cares what…” (as in “Who cares what that lying s.o.b. has to say).

Mr. Biden laughed and stopped himself.

Posted by Gary Levkoff | Report as abusive
 

That was close, Biden! LOL
Yes, you ARE getting better!

Posted by Felonious Punk | Report as abusive
 

I think the most important question in Afghan strategy is rarely addressed. That question is whether we can rely on the loyalty of those we are recruiting for Afghanistan’s army and national police. Even a small percentage of turncoats among the hundreds of thousands we aim to train could be significant. Afghan deserters could bring advanced training, and perhaps equipment, to drug warlords, the Taliban or Al-Qaida. How could the weak government in Kabul assure loyalty? How can we avoid training a new generation of Osama Bin Ladens?

Posted by Edgar Welty | Report as abusive
 

abby i saw item number 14 did this happen when barney franks and chris dodds were still in the republican party?

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive
 

I’m real tired of Liberals pushing blame back to Bush and Cheney every time they feel pressure. This is Obama’s administration now and Afghanistan is Obama’s good war. Let’s fight this thing to the finish, but let’s really fight it and let’s win. Skeptics like me believe that America never really set out this war to win, but rather to continue the perpetual state of war.

 

Brian, check out the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act from 1999.

Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive
 

Although I hate Biden and Cheney, and wish they both would do their country a favor by committing suicide, I have to admire Cheney for speaking his mind. Biden, on the other hand, seems to me to be a “yes” man. I want to hear him say what he thinks, not what he knows party officials, whoever they are, want him to say. I can’t stand a wuss.

Posted by Mufaso | Report as abusive
 

Well Anthony H I prefer not to be assumed liberal for assigning responsibility where it is due. You might want to check out The American Conservative magazine, especially the back issues during the runup to and execution of our current mid-east debacle, to differentiate between conservative thought, neoconservative thought, and what has come to pass for conservative thought as promoted in today’s media.

Although mention of TAC seems to keep any post from making it through the firewall on this site, there is a brand of real conservatism that has nothing to do with shilling for the previous administration or distracting folks with the inflammatory yet insincere populist blather of, say, Fox news.

Posted by Ryno | Report as abusive
 

Anthony H, was there some other administration more responsible for our current situation in Iraq and Afghanistan than that of Bush/Cheney? The blame goes where it belongs.

Posted by borisjimbo | Report as abusive
 

Have we arrived ?

Posted by Jesse | Report as abusive
 

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