In Washingtonian “inside the Beltway” terms, the most amazing aspect of former Vice President Dick Cheney’s new clout is that he is achieving it the old-fashioned way: talking about public policy. He is not running for President or any other office. He has not formed a PAC or a D.C. lobbying firm. He is not dishing on former colleagues, not spreading gossip, not settling scores. He is, instead, writing a memoir about his extensive career in public service, and giving occasional speeches and interviews, mostly on national and homeland security policy, long his central focus.
How is it, therefore, that someone who has no political ambitions can cause so much angst at the White House and in the mainstream news media? The irrefutable answer is that what Cheney is saying, primarily on foreign policy, defense and anti-terrorism, makes sense to more and more American citizens growing increasingly worried by the Obama Administration’s insouciance when U.S. national interests are threatened, both at home and abroad. Since the only real, long-term way to deal with persuasive positions on substantive policy matters is to refute them with sounder policy arguments, it is not hard to understand why the Obama White House is near panic. Where are they going to go to find a better policy inside his administration?