After a presidential campaign in which Barack Obama often seemed to be running more against the Bush administration than against his actual opponent, some personal animus on the part of the Bushites wouldn’t be surprising. But if anyone expected them to bury the hatchet after power was handed over to the Obamans, they were mistaken. While former president Bush has said that Obama “deserves my silence,” his friends haven’t shown the same unwillingness to criticize the new administration. Karl Rove’s slap at Joe Biden yesterday was merely the latest incident in an ongoing, often personal, always entertaining feud that’s been heating up for months.
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January 29: With Obama barely out of his first week in office, former chief of staff to president Bush, Andrew Card, lashed out at the new president for his cavalier attitude toward office attire. “I’m disappointed to see the casual, laissez-faire, short sleeves, no shirt and tie, no jacket, kind of locker-room experience that seems to be taking place in this White House and the Oval Office,” he told talk-radio host Michael Medved.
February 4: Two weeks after Obama was inaugurated as president, Dick Cheney sat down with Politico to engage in his favorite pastime: fearmongering. The former V.P. claimed that the new president’s policies might make a nuclear attack on American soil more likely. “When we get people who are more concerned … with reading the rights to an Al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do everything they can to kill Americans, then I worry.”
February 4: That same day, Card piled on Obama by once again harping on the Oval Office dress code, telling Inside Edition, “I wish that he would wear a suit coat and tie.” The Huffington Post soon rode to the rescue with a slideshow proving that other presidents, including Bush, had gone without a coat and tie before.
February 15: David Axelrod defended his boss and called Cheney “irresponsible” on Meet the Press, suggesting that “the vice-president is having a hard time dealing with … the verdict of the American people.”
March 15: Broken record Dick Cheney, in an interview on CNN’s State of the Union, claimed that President Obama’s policies, such as not torturing people and eventually closing Guantanamo Bay, have made America less safe. “He is making some choices that, in my mind, will, in fact, raise the risk to the American people of another attack.”
March 16: Press Secretary Robert Gibbs wasn’t having any of that. When asked about the comments at a press briefing the next day, Gibbs returned fire. “I guess Rush Limbaugh was busy,” he said to scattered laughter, “so they trotted out the next most popular member of the Republican cabal.” Get it? Because they’re both really unpopular!
March 22: President Obama made a rare appearance in the inter-administration squabbles, asking Steve Kroft on 60 Minutes, “How many terrorists have actually been brought to justice under the philosophy that is being promoted by Vice-President Cheney? It hasn’t made us safer. What it has been is a great advertisement for anti-American sentiment.” And with that, he once again ascended above the fray.
April 7: Joe Biden, in an interview with CNN, said that Dick Cheney’s assertion that President Obama had made America less safe was “dead wrong.” Biden also told of how he once boldly stood up to President Bush in the Oval Office: “He said to me, he said, ‘Well, Joe,’ he said, ‘I’m a leader.’ And I said, ‘Mr. President, turn around and look behind you. No one’s following.’”
April 9: Karl Rove, in an interview with Fox News, called Biden a “blowhard” (with “all due respect,” of course) and a “serial exaggerator” for making up a fictional account of the Oval Office exchange. If he were going to be unkind, he’d say Biden was a “liar” — but Karl Rove would never be unkind.
A Brief History of the Bushite-Obaman Feud