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The GOP Can’t Quit Dick Cheney

By Ben Armbruster  

"The GOP Can’t Quit Dick Cheney"

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Dick Cheney

A handful of media outlets are reporting news that Dick Cheney is now warning that the United States is in “deep doo doo” regarding its relations with North Korea.

Of course the reclusive communist regime has been doing a lot of saber rattling in recent weeks and that does indeed pose challenges for the United States. But as interesting as it is to report a comparison of the situation on the Korean peninsula to dog droppings, what’s really news here is not what Cheney said, it’s who he said it to, the Hill reports:

Former Vice President Dick Cheney discussed tensions on the Korean peninsula with Republican leaders in Congress in a closed-door meeting Tuesday, warning them that the United States was in danger. [...]

The former vice president spoke to GOP lawmakers, at the invitation of Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.).

Top House Republicans turning to the former vice president — behind closed doors — to give foreign policy advice to the GOP caucus sounds a lot like what Mitt Romney had to do during last year’s campaign: solicit Cheney’s wisdom and money, but don’t let too many people know about it. And there’s good reason: the American people don’t like him, mainly because his ideas and policies are unpopular and have been completely discredited.

But the crowd loved it. “We appreciate the vice president for sharing his insight and experience on the matter,” a McCarthy aid said. Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL) said Cheney — who was apparently also wearing a cowboy hat — “looked really good, spoke really clearly, lucidly.”

Cheney reportedly tried to shed some light on what North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is up to by harking back to his days of dealing with (but really not actually knowing anything about) Saddam Hussein, noting “you never know what they’re thinking.” Indeed. (Apparently Cheney bringing up his history with Saddam Hussein didn’t set off red flags with this particular group of Republicans.)

Back in 2002, then-Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) had said on numerous occasions that he did not think the Bush administration had made a strong enough case for the U.S. to invade Iraq. The White House needed Armey or, it was thought, the war authorization from Congress would fall apart. So before the vote, Cheney reportedly met privately with Armey and told him that he had sound intelligence he couldn’t discuss publicly because it was so horrifying: that Hussein had direct ties to al Qaeda and that Iraq was making progress toward a miniature nuclear weapon that it could one day hand off to the terror group. Armey then supported the resolution and Cheney, of course, turned out to be wildly wrong. “I deserved better than to be bullshitted by the vice president,” Armey told Cheney biographer Barton Gellman.

And Cheney continues to this day to maintain that torturing al-Qaeda suspects was the right thing to do.

This is the person the Republican Party is still listening to on foreign policy. And considering that much of its rebranding efforts are turning out to be miserable failures, it’s not surprise then that the GOP — much like Mitt Romney during last year’s presidential campaign — just can’t quit Dick Cheney and the neocons.

As for North Korea, is the U.S. really in “deep doo doo”? Korea expert Andrei Lankov wrote in today’s New York Times that “it does not make sense to credulously take their fake belligerence at face value and give them the attention they want now. It would be better if people in Washington and New York took a lesson from the people of Seoul” and ignore it.

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