Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Cheney v. Reagan? 

Today's NY Times reports on Labor Day speeches given by Dick Cheney and John Edwards, both of whom were campaigning in St. Paul, Minnesota. While speaking at the Minnesota State Fair, Cheney placed national security blame on the Clinton and Reagan administrations:
He blamed the Clinton and Reagan administrations for teaching terrorists that "they could strike us with relative impunity" and that "if they hit us hard enough, they could change our policy." Mr. Cheney cited the attack on United States Marines barracks in Beirut in 1983, in the first Reagan term, along with the 1993 killings of American soldiers in Somalia, a 1996 truck bombing at a housing complex in Saudi Arabia where many Americans lived, the 1998 bombings of two American embassies in East Africa and the attack on the destroyer Cole in Yemen in 2000.

I can see the logic of his citing the events of the Clinton era, but what did he possibly hope to gain by assailing the security credentials of Ronald Reagan, the modern day saint of the Republican Party? Between this and his recent affirmation of his position against the Federal Marriage Amendment, he doesn't seem to be on the same page as the campaign when it comes to solidifying the base.

Or is this some sort of bizarre orchestration designed to broaden the appeal to the moderates? Bush in the past has tried to pass himself off as the compassionate conservative, while Cheney was the hard-core right winger. But now Bush is putting more emphasis on his conservative creds while Cheney is giving lip service to the middle portion of the spectrum. Then again, that would be true of the FMA statement, but to whom would he be appealing with Reagan bashing on the grounds that he was too soft on security? Survivalist militia groups? Perhaps it will work out well for the Democrats, and the voters Bush-Cheney are trying to win over will be too confused to vote coming Election Day. I did notice that the official Bush-Cheney campaign website doesn't have the Minnesota speech posted on the speeches page, but today they did post the text of Cheney's speech in Clear Lake, Iowa. And there was no mention of anything Reagan.

It reminded me a bit of a number of years ago when I saw Kate Clinton perform at Sanders Theater at Harvard. She made some disparaging remark about Ted Kennedy, which given the setting went over with nary a giggle. She regained the audience's affection by scolding herself, "You're in Massachusetts now, missy. Don't mess with the Kennedys."

I wonder if anyone from the campaign has reminded Cheney: "You're in conservative country now, mister. Don't mess with Reagan."

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:51 AM