The Slim Line Between Cheney And Obama.

Jon Meacham's column on why Dick Cheney should run for president is about as well thought out as it sounds:

But I think we should be taking the possibility of a Dick Cheney bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 more seriously, for a run would be good for the Republicans and good for the country. (The sound you just heard in the background was liberal readers spitting out their lattes.)

A contest between Obama and Cheney, Meacham says would be definitive. "Whatever the result," Meacham writes, "there could be no ambiguity about the will of the people." This is of a piece with the far-right philosophy that elections only count when Republicans win them, despite Meacham's insistence that this hypothetical election would "adjudicate the George W. Bush years in a direct way." All of this already happened during the 2008 election. It's just that, sensing voter dissatisfaction with the president, Meacham and conservatives would like a do-over, as though they could simply erase the 2008 rejection of of the GOP by the American electorate.

I excerpted the quote where Meacham uses "latte" as a cultural shorthand for liberal effeteness because I think it explains basically everything that's wrong with Meacham's column. Cheney of course, is a huge fan of skim lattes, the kind of trivial fact that might be well known if it fit the kind of political shorthand lazy journalists employ in the absence of actual, well, journalism.

The idea Meacham is trying to convey is that Cheney, unlike the latte-sipping "girlie men" who make up the Democratic Party, is "tough on terror," while the drone assassination–happy, secret prison–running, state secrets doctrine–abusing, unreformed PATRIOT Act–supporting, torture photo–blocking, military commissions–convening, racial profiling Obama administration is made up of weaklings who just happen to have constructed a policy that looks virtually identical to the prior administration except where it is more aggressive. Meacham doesn't realize that he's demanding a "referendum" on policies Cheney and Obama actually agree on almost entirely in substance, with the exception of torture and closing Guantanamo Bay prison. The battle between Obama and Cheney has been partisan political theater -- but Meacham, apparently lacking any real knowledge on the subject, presents "latte" as a cultural shorthand for liberalism, when it's properly a shorthand for crappy journalism that relies on political totems rather than actual research.

-- A. Serwer

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