Obama Speaks. Cheney Speaks. It's All Good.

President Obama's speech on national security, delivered at the National Archives this morning, has provoked much discussion.

At the risk of being Pollyannaish, though, I'd like to take a minute and enjoy how wonderfully well American civil society functions at times like these. On CNN right now, former Vice President Dick Cheney is giving a response to Obama's speech. As soon as Obama was done the picture switched seamlessly and instantly to Cheney, offering an uncensored, dissenting view from the official pronouncements of the most powerful man in the country. Cheney is speaking from the American Enterprise Institute, an institution that exists entirely free of government pressure, despite a tendency to muck around in partisan politics and policy. The speech is being transmitted on a private, for-profit television channel, broadcast on pay TV, also operating free of government interference.

This is free speech. This is a free society. These institutions—think tanks, news television—operate without fear of reprisal. It's easy to forget that a rich, multifaceted civil society is a tremendous luxury—and a rarity. Even in other developed nations, television stations are often owned by the state and/or subject to far more political restraint and government censorship.

Even if there's no other way you can enjoy a speech by Dick Cheney (or a speech by Obama, for that matter), try to take a deep breath enjoy today's spectacle from this somewhat meta point of view.

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  • </||

    That's what they WANT you to think!

  • ||

    Even in other developed nations, television stations are often owned by the state and/or subject to far more political restraint and government censorship.

    And maybe someday the United States will take its rightful place among those nations.

  • ||

    Well Cheney didn't have time to subvert all basic rights.

  • Michael||

    ...this somewhat meta point of view.


    That.....that word.


    Stop it with that word.




    Please.

  • ||

    I am glad that we still have a fairly robust set of protections for speech. Not perfect, but probably the best in the world.

  • Zeb||

    With the glaring exception of campaign finance related things, we do have it pretty damn good free speech-wise in the US.

  • ||

    Is Obama more powerful than Cheney? Discuss.

  • JB||

    I have to say that the Religion of Peace didn't get Obama's memo. Great timing announcing he wants to coddle more terrorists when Muslims are planting bombs outside synagogues.

  • ||

    Wow!

  • robc||

    The cynic might state that the "opposition response" always come from the other branch of the republicrat party.

    I am that cynic.

  • Abdul||

    Free speech is nice and all, but it would be better to have them settle their differences with broken beer bottles and pool cues.

  • Warty||

    No way, Abdul. Epees and rapiers.

  • Zeb||

    "Muslims are planting bombs outside synagogues."

    Well, fake bombs provided by the FBI.

    People who want to do such things should certainly be punished, but I am always a bit skeptical about how much of a threat they actually posed when the undercover agent investigating provides so much support and encouragement to the plot.

  • ||

    Pistols at dawn.

  • ||

    This is free speach like Vince Mcmahon provides free speach for the JunkYard dog and Roddie Piper. Who are you kidding? both guys are pro-war, pro-torture, pro-taxing jerks. The networks are regulated by the FCC and tehy are in constant fear of being attacked by the "regulators". When a real guy comes along who isn't a phony jerk the networks do everything they can to denigrate and avoid giving him airtime.

    Cheney has a 9% approval rating!!!...they failed to make Limbaugh the figurehead for the opposition so now they are trying to make Cheney the figure head.

    The zombamaheds think "if Cheney is against Obama, then he must be doing something right". Stop being so naive Mangu. Obama won't release the torture photos because he'd fellate Cheney if the right people asked him to.

  • ||

    pfft
    This is Cheney and Obama we're talking about.

    Shotguns at dawn.
    (it's the Chicago/Texas was)

  • JP||

    People who want to do such things should certainly be punished, but I am always a bit skeptical about how much of a threat they actually posed when the undercover agent investigating provides so much support and encouragement to the plot.

    Same here. "That's a good idea, Moussa, but let's tweak it a little. Instead of filling plastic milk jugs with baking soda, let's get some dynamite from a guy I know. That would probably work better, dontha think?"

  • Brett Stevens||

    "Free speech" only makes sense if your population can tell the difference between bullshit and logic.

  • ||

    And maybe someday the United States will take its rightful place among those nations.

    Patience. You can't just jump into running a media outlet. You have to practice on banks and automakers first.

  • Fred||

    Agreed with KMW.

    The rest of you, stop being so self-important for one day, put your witty quips and mental masturbation on the side, and think about the bigger picture.

  • Bill Moyers||

    "Even in other developed nations, television stations are often owned by the state and/or subject to far more political restraint and government censorship."

    You make that sound like a bad thing.

  • Face the Muzak||

    "Is Obama more powerful than Cheney? Discuss."

    Always bet on black.

  • DADIODADDY||

    Balloons & Blunderbusts...Oh and Gabe...take a nice slow deep breath and exhale...

  • ||

    According to this guy I talked to yesterday at the bar, all the networks are owned by the Illuminati. Insiders of the Shadow Cabal give us two "sides" to politics, but there is no difference. Cheney is a Reptiloid from Outer Space and Obama has a chip in his brain.

  • Civil Discourse||

    "Obama has a chip in his brain."

    And a chip on his shoulder, as do all blacks.

  • ||

    """These institutions-think tanks, news television-operate without fear of reprisal. """

    Unless someone uttered one of the 7 banned words.

    """Is Obama more powerful than Cheney? Discuss."""

    With dueling shotguns? I'm going with Cheney.

  • KT||

    ...offering an uncensored, dissenting view from the official pronouncements of the most powerful man in the country

    Yeah, from the guy who just got done being the most powerful man in the country. Such a variety of viewpoints!

  • ||

    "But in the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half exposed." -Cheney

    I agree that it's great that we have such robust free speech, and that this is a good example. It is a classic irony, though, since who can doubt that Cheney would squash speech in the name of fighting terrorism if he had the power?

    He's a smart guy, and I used to like him (Bush I days). You should listen to some of his measured Gulf War I interviews. Now he's Mr. Black and White ideologue whose only obvious principle is appearing tough against terrorism. I think he's compensating for the fact that

  • Kolmogorov||

    OK, apparently html not allowed.. let me try again...
    ==============

    "But in the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half exposed." -Cheney

    I agree that it's great that we have such robust free speech. It is a classic irony, though. Does anyone doubt that Cheney would squash speech in the name of fighting terrorism if he had the power?

    He's a smart guy, and I used to like him (Bush I days). You should listen to some of his measured Gulf War I interviews. Now he's Mr. Black and White ideologue.

    I think he's compensating for the fact that Margaret Thatcher called him a pussy after Gulf War I

    [1] http://truthishard.blogspot.com/2005/11/changing-your-mind.html

  • ||

    is there a point to this article

  • ||

    So this has something to do with OUR "free" speech? Never read M-W before. Is this as deep as it gets? Doubleplussungood.

  • ||

    I'll grant that this isn't that great of an example of free speech in action--Cheney is a former vice president after all and one of them--but I join the basic sentiment.

    Whether we're smart enough to seek varied voices on such topics or whether the media is competent enough to think beyond the merely bilateral is a separate issue as to whether our freedom of speech is intact.

  • Joel||

    Katherine, for heaven's sake. They're on the same side. You've heard of the Boot On Your Neck party, right? The one that won the election? And the one before that? A representative of BOYN-A speaks: A representative of BOYN-B mildly rebuts. That's free speech to you?

    Granted that most 'free speech' infringements in this country are not (at present) terribly draconian. To me that only says they don't fear it.

    Enough.

  • Victor||

    What a feel-good load. Obama and Cheney work for the same plutocratic bosses; they say the same things in different voices, differently spun. Both celebrate the power of the Almighty State and its Shock and Awe jackboot: aggressive war, torture, domestic spying, stamping on civil liberties. Oh, and shoveling trillions of dollars to needy billionaires.

    If by "free-speech" you mean "two-fisted sock puppet ventriloquism," rock on.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    And a chip on his shoulder, as do all blacks.

    ... ?

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Whether we're smart enough to seek varied voices on such topics or whether the media is competent enough to think beyond the merely bilateral is a separate issue as to whether our freedom of speech is intact.

    Very true.

  • Brian Lockwood||

    The real demonstration of free speech is found in the responses to this article. Semi-public criticism and degradation of government officials by private citizen without fear of reprisal.

    In this spirit, I'd like to suggest that Obama and Cheney go fornicate each other in an outhouse.

  • </||

    ... ?

    "Now I'm proud"

    "Yes, we can"

    "One we've been waiting for"

    Nope, no collective victimology there.

  • Syd||

    I suggest a slapping contest, noting Obama has the advantage in reach.

  • !</a||

    Zeb,

    Well, fake bombs provided by the FBI.

    More proof that the terrorist are becoming friendlier from the B.H.Obama/H.R.Clinton policy of assisting them.

  • The North American Outhouse As||

    "In this spirit, I'd like to suggest that Obama and Cheney go fornicate each other in an outhouse."

    What did we ever do to you?

  • ||

    alanon | May 21, 2009, 1:42pm | #

    "is there a point to this article"

    The last two dictators of the country get to talk on TV so shut up and get in your free speech cages.

  • ||

    "Is Obama more powerful than Cheney? Discuss."

    Always bet on black.

    White has the advantage of the first move.

  • Yakov||

    "so shut up and get in your free speech cages."

    In America, free speech cages you!

  • ||

    "Free speech is nice and all, but it would be better to have them settle their differences with broken beer bottles and pool cues."

    I like that idea. Does anyone remember how Al Gore debated H. Ross Perot over NAFTA on Larry King? That was some made for TV entertainment. How about a redo, only this time have Joe Biden go on against Dick Cheney on this issue. Dr. Evil versus Dr. Moron. Biden is such a loose cannon and bullshit artist God only knows what kind of bizzare shit he would say. It would be a real life SNL skit.

  • BakedPenguin||

    "Free speech is nice and all, but it would be better to have them settle their differences with broken beer bottles and pool cues."



    Nice idea, but in our political culture, this would wind up being the equivalent of the fights in West Side Story.

  • ||

    "Nice idea, but in our political culture, this would wind up being the equivalent of the fights in West Side Story."

    Most of the time, yes, but not with Dick Cheney. Cheny would fight hard and dirty. Cheney in a lot of ways reminds me of Nixon and in the good ways. He is the kind of guy you want on your side in a fight.

  • ||

    """Great timing announcing he wants to coddle more terrorists when Muslims are planting bombs outside synagogues."""

    Obviously your not paying attention. There were no bombs and no missiles. Unless fake = real to you. Let's be clear about what the news from the Bronx today wasn't. It was not an interception of acutal terrorist attack, where things would have gone boom if the government didn't act.

    """He is the kind of guy you want on your side in a fight."""

    Funny, John wants the guy that would drop dead of a heart attack in under 2 mins of fighting. I'll take the in shape young guy over the old guy with heart problems any day. Besides, they fight dirty in Chi town too.

  • ||

    "Funny, John wants the guy that would drop dead of a heart attack in under 2 mins of fighting. I'll take the in shape young guy over the old guy with heart problems any day. Besides, they fight dirty in Chi town too."

    I doubt the heart would give out quite that quickly. Obama weight 150 lbs soaking wet and his wife owns his balls. I am taking Cheney. He may not be fast, but he would show up armed with the right weapons and would know how to use them.

  • ||

    """He may not be fast, but he would show up armed with the right weapons and would know how to use them."""

    Maybe, he might shoot the duck in the face instead of Obama.

    I gave Cheney the advantage with the weapon earlier. I could see Cheney showing up with a choice weapon and Obama looking puzzled thinking didn't we ban that.

  • Anonymous||

    It was not an interception of acutal terrorist attack, where things would have gone boom if the government didn't act.

    I thought that the police infiltrator supplied the fake explosives. Doesn't that count?

  • ||

    """I thought that the police infiltrator supplied the fake explosives. Doesn't that count?"""

    Count for what? Fake explosives can't cause damage. I'm not sure how this is not entrapment. The feds find a guy that's pissed off at us and has no resources to attack. The feds talk it up and pretend to give them the means to aquire weapons, something they couldn't do on their own. The feds baby sit the plot, feed the plot, supply the plot, and the claim it was target's doing. That's worlds apart from stopping an actual terrorist attack where the terrorist created the plot, supplied the plot (with real weapons), and was caught attempting the execute plot that would have resulted in the loss of life.

  • Anonymous||

    The feds baby sit the plot, feed the plot, supply the plot, and the claim it was target's doing.

    How do you know that? All the articles I've read say they were out to kill people from the outset. As presented, this is no more entrapment than posing as a prostitute.

  • chrisronk||

    Funny, all this talk about Obama adopting Bush's national security policies. I don't see Obama lying us into war with Iraq or using torture when it is widely considered to be against the law and has been proven not to work

    This is a feeble attempt to make yourselves feel better about the past eight years.

    Good luck with that.

  • zoltan||

    Don't kid yourself chrisronk, or everyone on H&R will get into another fight over whether we're not giving enough negative face time to Democrats or Republicans. But your mental capacities are probably a bit too feeble to pick up on that.

    And Dick Cheney = Dan from Deadwood. Who is Swearengen? No way it's Bush for damn sure.

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