In the second part of their interview last night, Fox News’ Sean Hannity asked former Vice President Dick Cheney to give his “overall analysis” on where President Obama is “taking the country economically.” “Well, I’m very concerned about it,” replied Cheney before heaping praise onto the anti-Obama tea parties held last week.
“I thought the tea parties were great,” said Cheney. He then expressed his view that if would be a “healthy” development if the demonstration of conservative “grassroots” opinion had an “impact” on the debate in Congress:
CHENEY: I think when you get that kind of grassroots sentiment being expressed, thousands of people, hundreds of thousands of people all across the country, that will have an impact on Capitol Hill. It will have an impact, I think, on the political process. And it’s basically a healthy development.
Cheney’s praise for the tea parties is surprising considering his contempt for public opinion while in office. As Vice President, Cheney dismissed the the opinion of far more Americans when they disagreed with his administration’s policies:
CHENEY: On the security front, I think there’s a general consensus that we’ve made major progress, that the surge has worked. That’s been a major success.
RADDATZ: Two-third of Americans say it’s not worth fighting.
RADDATZ So? You don’t care what the American people think?
CHENEY: No. I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls.
On February 15, 2003, millions of people across the globe, including up to 375,000 in New York City alone, protested the impending invasion of Iraq. President Bush, who Cheney has praised for not making policy “based on public opinion polls,” dismissed the protesters as “a focus group.”
According to statistics expert Nate Silver, roughly 300,000 people across the country participated in the tea parties. Apparently this was enough to convince Cheney that maybe public opinion should “have an impact” on policy.