In the other White House war …
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.”
Photo credit: REUTERS/Larry Downing (Biden gestures during a ceremonial event with Cheney on Capitol Hill, January 6, 2009)