the national interest

Dick Cheney Not Completely Sure If Obama Is a Traitor

Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

One of the important fault lines in conservative thought runs between those who believe Barack Obama has endangered America through blundering incompetence, and those who believe he has endangered America through cunning sabotage. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed from last year, Liz Cheney has been completely explicit about her belief that Obama is deliberately trying to weaken America (to wit: “There is no longer a question of whether this was his intent.”) Today Liz returns to the Journal, this time jointly bylined with her father. Today’s Cheney joint delicately wends the line between the two schools of thought.

Throughout their column, the Cheneys continually tiptoe up to the line of accusing Obama of treason without quite stepping over. They quote Arab leaders who have asked about Obama’s friend-sacrificing, enemy-helping policies, “Don’t they care,” to which the Cheneys reply, “Our president doesn’t seem to.”

The rest of the column is a masterpiece of insinuation without accusation. Obama “seems blithely unaware, or indifferent to the fact, that a resurgent al Qaeda presents a clear and present danger to the United States of America.” He “is willfully blind to the impact of his policies.” He “seems determined to leave office ensuring he has taken America down a notch.”

Note the cautious terms inserted into every accusation. Obama is unaware or indifferent. He is willfully blind (i.e., he does not see, but maybe he does not want to). He seems determined to take America down, which is not exactly the same thing as being determined.

The question here is why the Cheneys are playing this so coy. Liz had no compunctions on her own. Meanwhile, Lynn Cheney has been happy to float bizarre conspiracy theories of her own. Somehow Dick Cheney is invested enough in his own credibility to feel the need to position himself a few inches away from the lunatic fringe the rest of his family is happy to occupy.

Cheney Not Completely Sure If Obama Is a Traitor