Head Games

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on February 18, 2010

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My latest for the New Ledger has to do with Dick Cheney and his effect on the Obama Administration. A snippet:

We all know that President Obama and his Administration are experts and playing things cool when lesser humans would be wracked with panic. After all, everyone in the press, along with his/her pet canary, tells us as much. But there is one person who is consistently able to take the Administration out of its comfort zone whenever he speaks up.

That person, of course, is former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Every time Cheney decides to speak out about current events–especially when it comes to the issue of foreign and national security policy–he is able to discombobulate the Obama Administration, which sends out an all-hands-on-deck message to its personnel to combat the former Vice President’s commentary. And yet, for whatever reason, it’s Cheney who usually comes out with the upper hand in any debate. Last year, when the Obama Administration was postponing the implementation of a troop surge policy on Afghanistan, Cheney very publicly accused the Administration of “dithering.” Team Obama was infuriated, but the message stuck. I suppose it should come as no surprise that the White House is obsessed with trying to push back against Cheney’s comments every time he makes a public statement. The former Vice President has clearly gotten into the Administration’s collective head space; not a mean feat for someone with chronically low public approval ratings. So why does the Administration feel the need to engage in rapid response battles with an unpopular former Vice President? After all, if Dick Cheney is the pariah that Democrats think he is, wouldn’t it just be better to ignore him?

Read it all. I am pleased, by the way, that my friend and colleague, Ben Domenech, asked me to write this piece, and rolled it out today; it appears that he has excellent timing.

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