CNN indulges Dick Cheney in a race to the bottom in stupidity in response to the Awlaki killing:
“They, in effect, said that we had walked away from our ideals, or taken policy contrary to our ideals, when we had enhanced interrogation techniques,” said Cheney, who has acknowledged supporting the Bush-era use of secret prisons and waterboarding for al-Qaeda suspects. “Now they clearly have moved in the direction of taking robust action when they think it is justified.”
Asked by host Crowley if he would like an apology, he replied: “Well, I would.”
Aww, would you?
Now, even Bush didn't target American citizens for execution. So if we're to play by Cheney's abhorrent moral rules, it would be he and Bush who owe Obama an apology for not killing Awlaki. And for that matter, not accelerating a drone war or killing bin Laden, invading Iraq so al-Qaida metastasized, etc.
If it really needs to be said, torture, Cheney's signature contribution to the national discourse on terrorism, did not lead to the targeting or killing of Anwar Awlaki. Cheney's whine is a non-sequitur right out of The Distinguished Gentleman, only it's characteristically petty and self-serving. For more on why, if anything, Cheney needs to apologize to Obama, see Matthew Yglesias:
The difference—and I think it’s a big difference—is that the Bush administration took a very ideological view of “the war on terror.” They viewed the United States as broadly in conflict with a vast-yet-hazily-defined array of Muslim Bad Guys such that Saddam Hussein and the government of Iran were somehow part of the same problem as Osama bin Laden. The conceptual alternative to this that Obama offered (and I think you see it in early coverage of Obama’s national security thinking from Spencer Ackerman and yours truly) was to think of al-Qaeda as a specific, narrow thing that ought to be obsessively targeted and destroyed. His team viewed the Iraq War as a catastrophic distraction from that task, and also repeatedly clashed with John McCain over the need to more forcefully disregard Pakistani government views about hitting targets in Pakistan. You see in the rising body count that this all wasn’t just talk. There’s been some kind of meaningful reallocation of national resources away from Bush’s geopolitical vision in favor of a much more literal global effort to identify, locate, and kill members of al-Qaeda. This whole suite of undertakings is in significant tension with the administration’s desire to pursue a rules-based global order and if Obama asked me I’d tell him he’s tilted too far against his own big picture ideas. Still, world affairs doesn’t exist on a two-dimensional hawk/dove axis and this militaristic aspect of Obamaism should be seen as a departure from Bush’s view of the terrorism problem.
Still, Cheney's tantrum demonstrates why he's a savvy politician, despite not having any charisma. He understands that politically, what matters is public vindication, not wisdom, vigilance or responsibility. ("Deficits don't matter.") As Matt underscores, Cheney wants to set up a frame in which "Obama targeting al-Qaida" means "Obama ratifies Bush targeting al-Qaida," which is a canny frame for him. It would also be mistaken, because "Obama targeting al-Qaida" is not the same thing as "Bush targeting Iraq in the name of targeting al-Qaida." Obviously, Obama should provide Cheney with nothing but condescension and pity.
It's also worth noting that George W. Bush doesn't disgrace himself by sneer-begging for public apologies on TV.