Yesterday, after suffering years of media portrayal as a gaffe-prone gaffe-machine and incessant lampooning by humor magazine The Onion (to hilarious effect), Vice President Joe Biden finally struck back.
This Sunday’s political talk show circuit revolved around the debate between Biden and his predecessor Dick Cheney. Their discussion spanned three networks, focusing mostly on the Iraq War and national security policy.
The current and former Vice Presidents squared off in separate segments on NBC’s Meet the Press and ABC This Week, respectively. Then Biden delivered his decisive rebuttal, live on CBS’s Face the Nation.
After almost seven years, the War in Iraq has cost over 4,000 American troops and nearly 100,000 Iraqi civilians their lives, not to mention the countless others scarred for life or the trillions of dollars squandered.
Despite those grim facts, Cheney still refuses to admit that invading and occupying a sovereign nation-state under false pretenses constituted poor judgment on the Bush administration’s part. On the contrary, he actually demanded a “thank you” from his successor.
As he often does, the former Vice President also cited the 2007 troop surge as an example of his administration’s “success” in Iraq. However, this is a half-truth at best.
While the surge was an integral part of our Iraq War policy, it was the Sunni Awakening movement in Al-Anbar province that turned the tide in our favor.
If anyone should get credit for this reversal of fortune, it’s General David Petreus, former Commanding General in Iraq, current chief of U.S. Central Command and architect of our military’s counter-insurgency strategy. He’s the one who deserves a “thank you,” not Bush or Cheney.
On the national security front, Cheney hammered the Obama Administration for prosecuting Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the alleged Christmas Day bomber, as a criminal terrorist instead of an enemy combatant.
This designation ensures that his case will be heard in civilian court rather than before a military tribunal. According to the former Vice President, trying suspects in this fashion will make America “less safe.”
Biden responded by exposing the obvious hypocrisy in Cheney’s accusation, pointing out that Abdulmutallab has been treated exactly the same way that convicted shoe bomber Richard Reid was back in 2001.
Then Biden went on the offensive, challenging the Bush administration’s dismal record of trying terror suspects in military court. Of the three defendants who were eventually brought before these tribunals, he noted, two went free and are currently “walking the streets.”
Meanwhile, over three hundred convicted terrorists are currently locked up in American prisons, having been found guilty in federal court during the Bush years. By comparing these results, the more effective strategy becomes obvious.
“He’s not entitled to rewrite history. He’s not entitled to his own facts,” Biden said of Cheney before declaring him to be “factually, substantively, wrong on the major criticisms he is asserting.”
As to what his predecessor’s motivations might be for obscuring the truth, Biden correctly concluded that, “He is either misinformed or misinforming.”
It’s refreshing to see a Democrat, especially one as high-profile as the Vice President, finally come out swinging in the fight against Republican propaganda. In doing so, Joe Biden also struck a forceful blow against those who seek to characterize him as bumbling and incompetent. Above all, he bolstered my belief that our current administration will soon make good on its promise of change.