Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and former Vice President Dick Cheney engaged in the latest round of their war of words on Sunday in dueling television appearances, in which each offered sharply different positions on national security and forceful defenses of their administrations’ policies.
Mr. Biden accused Mr. Cheney of trying to rewrite history in his critique of how the Obama administration has handled terrorism suspects and other threats to national security.
Mr. Biden said some of the Obama administration efforts that have been criticized by Mr. Cheney were similar to decisions made during the Bush administration. He said Mr. Cheney’s fight seemed to be with his own administration.
“That’s Dick Cheney,” Mr. Biden said on “Face the Nation” on CBS. “Thank God the last administration didn’t listen to him at the end.”
Mr. Cheney, on “This Week” on ABC, criticized the Obama administration’s handling of the attempted bombing of a jetliner in December, saying, “It is clear once again thatPresident Obama is trying to pretend that we are not at war.” He said “enhanced interrogation techniques,” including waterboarding, should have been an option when questioning the suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
Mr. Cheney also said the Obama administration was wrongly trying to take credit for any progress in Iraq. “If they had had their way, if we’d followed the policies they’d pursued from the outset or advocated from the outset,” he said, “Saddam Hussein would still be in power in Baghdad today.”
The back-and-forth between Mr. Biden and Mr. Cheney highlighted the clashing visions of their administrations, particularly on national security, as well as efforts by conservatives to portray Mr. Obama as weak on that issue.
But some of Mr. Cheney’s criticisms of the Obama administration on Sunday were more muted than his remarks have been in recent weeks, and he went so far as to express support for Mr. Obama’s policy in Afghanistan. He chuckled while viewing a recording of Mr. Biden’s comments, saying, “I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by my friend Joe Biden.”
As he has before, Mr. Cheney made no secret of his disagreement with many eventual Bush administration decisions on how to handle terrorism suspects, including whether to try them in criminal courts.
He also distanced himself from Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor, who suggested a week ago that President Obama could help himself politically if he declared war on Iran. “I don’t think a president can make a judgment like that on the basis of politics,” Mr. Cheney said.
Mr. Cheney also said the time had come to reconsider the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which prohibits openly gay men and lesbians from serving in the military. “Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has indicated his belief that we ought to support a change in the policy,” Mr. Cheney said. “My guess is the policy will be changed.”
The televised appearances occurred in a quintessential Washington fashion: on successive Sunday television programs, which allowed each man to hear what the other had said and then respond.
Mr. Biden went first, on “Meet the Press” on NBC, which was recorded Saturday in Vancouver, the site of the Winter Olympics. That allowed Mr. Cheney to view Mr. Biden’s appearance on Sunday morning and then respond to it on ABC. But Mr. Biden got the last word, appearing on CBS and responding to what Mr. Cheney had said on ABC.
Mr. Biden said that under Mr. Obama, the United States had been more successful at killing the leaders of Al Qaeda. “We’ve eliminated 12 of their top people, we have taken out 100 of their associates,” Mr. Biden said. “They were in fact not able to do anything remotely like they were in the past. They are on the run. I don’t know where Dick Cheney has been.”
This 60 Minutes segment reveals how inappropriate a VP choice Sarah Palin really was:
Politico's coverage of the interview:
John McCain’s top campaign strategist said in an interview Sunday that Sarah Palin was dishonest as the GOP’s vice-presidential nominee and that her untruths have done long-term damage to her public image.
“There were numerous instances that she said things that were – that were not accurate that ultimately, the campaign had to deal with,” said Steve Schmidt in an interview broadcast on CBS’s “60 Minutes.” “And that opened the door to criticism that she was being untruthful and inaccurate. And I think that is something that continues to this day.”
Schmidt cited an ethics report on the then-Alaska governor from her home state on an investigation into whether she had improperly used her government position.
“She went out and said, you know, ‘This report completely exonerates me,’” Schmidt said. “And in fact, it – it didn’t. You know it’s the equivalent of saying down is up and up is down. It was provably, demonstrably untrue.”
While the GOP strategist has previously criticized Palin, he has never before leveled such a sharp critique of her integrity – and certainly not on a national television ...
Her debut speech at the GOP’s convention won wide acclaim, but immediately afterward it was clear to McCain’s aides that she had significant deficiencies.
Heilemann said that even after crash-course tutorials by campaign aides following the convention, Palin was still woefully uninformed about basic policy issues.
“[S]he still didn’t really understand why there was a North Korea and a South Korea,” Heilemann told the program’s Anderson Cooper. “She was still regularly saying that Saddam Hussein had been behind 9/11.”
Schmidt said Palin was ignorant about many matters of national security policy, but allowed that any of the vice-presidential candidates tapped would have needed tutoring on such issues.
But he said she hurt herself in the now-infamous interview with CBS’s Katie Couric by not adequately preparing and letting herself be distracted by what the authors describe as an obsession about her political standing in Alaska.
This Web Extra clip highlights how inept the McCain campaign was about its "most important decision," the selection of the VP candidate:
And the most damning of all: this Web Extra clip reveals that some McCain staffers were considering an unheard of request if McCain was elected president: to have Palin step down if McCain won because they were "terrified" of this "mentally limited" person being a heartbeat away from the Presidency:
Another remnant of the Bush approach to foreign policy bites the dust. From Better World Campaign:
Each year, Congress is responsible for approving and allocating the payments requested by the President for U.S. assessed contributions to the United Nations' regular and peacekeeping budgets. Currently, the U.S. is assessed 22% of the UN regular budget and 26% for UN peacekeeping operations. For many years, due to Administration and Congressional underfunding, the U.S. fell well behind in its treaty-obligated payments to the UN. But in June 2009, Congress voted for and the President signed legislation that erases all the debts that had been building over the last decade.
U.S. Funding for the UN: An Overview
To ensure that the U.S. remains in good financial standing and honors its obligations at the UN, the United States must continue to pay its dues to the UN in full and on time. While the June 2009 supplemental bill addressed part of this, more needs to be done. Learn More
How do dues and contributions to the UN work?
Funding for the UN and its agencies comes from two sources: assessed contributions to finance the UN’s regular budget, peacekeeping operations, and some specialized agencies, and voluntary contributions, through which more than half of the UN’s funding is provided. Learn More
President Obama's decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan looks at first like a defeat for his vice president, who pushed hard for holding down the number of U.S. troops in the country. But the plan also gives Vice President Biden a lasting victory: a strategy that lays out far more modest goals for the embattled nation.
Biden originally argued that it would be fruitless -- perhaps even naive -- to add more forces in the hope of stabilizing Afghanistan by shoring up its central government. Besides the country's fragmented political history and his own doubts about President Hamid Karzai, Biden viewed Afghanistan as a much different and more difficult place than Iraq, with a far higher illiteracy rate and fragmented civil society, senior administration officials said.
Obama ultimately sided with the dire assessment of his top field commander, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, that without a massive increase in troop levels the war would be lost. But Biden's central point -- that the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan should be limited to denying al-Qaeda a haven in the country from which it planned the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks -- shifted the debate within the administration.
The result is a set of goals that are among the most limited of the eight-year war. "All along, you may recall, I'd been arguing the strategy is more important than the numbers. And the president laid out the strategy: This is a regional issue; number one priority al-Qaeda, number two Pakistan, number three giving the Karzai government a fighting chance to be able to sustain itself," Biden said Wednesday morning on CBS News. "The existential threat to the United States remains in the mountains in Pakistan. That's where we have to keep the focus." ...
Biden's more skeptical view also reflected the thinking of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and McChrystal, who have emphasized working with local tribal authorities and village elders to drive out the Taliban and stabilize the country, thereby minimizing the role of the Karzai government.
"I have believed ever since I got this job that we have been too focused on the central government in Kabul and not enough on the provinces, districts and tribes," Gates told lawmakers Wednesday.
The defense secretary, who brokered a compromise between skeptics of escalation and military commanders, also seemed to reflect Biden's concerns by noting in his testimony that the administration's earlier Afghan policy review was seen as a "commitment to full-scale nation-building."
It was a strategy that "sounded very open ended," Gates said.
Even so, the secretary privately expressed concern about a fixed timeline for withdrawal, signing on only after the White House added language saying troop cuts would be based on conditions in Afghanistan, officials said.
Though the NY Times closed their story on Joe Biden's influence on President Obama's Afghanistan deliberations with this paragraph, it really caught my eye with its perverse truth:
“There are some ironic similarities to Cheney’s definition of the job and Biden’s in one sense,” Mr. Haass said. “They’re both people who are not hobbled by their own ambitions, they’re both experienced national security hands, and it freed up Cheney and it frees up Biden to give an honest take.”
Here's the article:
A few hours after getting off a plane from America’s war zones, Joseph R. Biden Jr slipped into a chair, shook off his jet lag and reflected on what he had seen. The situation in Iraq, he said, was much improved. In Pakistan, he said he saw encouraging signs.
Then he came to Afghanistan and shook his head. “It has deteriorated significantly,” he said. “It’s going to be a very heavy lift.”
That was six days before Mr. Biden was sworn in as vice president in January, and just after he had met with President-elect Barack Obama, who had sent him on the fact-finding mission to figure out just what the new administration was inheriting. Mr. Biden’s assessment was even grimmer during his private meeting with Mr. Obama, according to officials.
From the moment they took office, Mr. Biden has been Mr. Obama’s in-house pessimist on Afghanistan, the strongest voice against further escalation of American forces there and the leading doubter of the president’s strategy. It was a role that may have been lonely at first, but has attracted more company inside the White House as Mr. Obama rethinks the strategy he unveiled just seven months ago.
For Mr. Biden, a longtime senator who prided himself on his experience in foreign relations, the role represents an evolution in his own thinking, a shift from his days as a liberal hawk advocating for American involvement in Afghanistan. Month by month, year by year, the story of Mr. Biden’s disenchantment with the Afghan government, and by extension with the engagement there, mirrors America’s slow but steady turn against the war, with just 37 percent supporting more troops in last week’s CBS News poll.
“He came to question some of the assumptions and began asking questions about whether there might be other approaches that might get you as good or better results at lower cost,” said Richard N. Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, who has been consulted by Mr. Biden on the matter.
Mr. Biden does not favor abandoning Afghanistan, but his approach would reject the additional troops sought by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal and leave the American force in Afghanistan roughly the same, 68,000 troops. Rather than emphasize protecting the Afghan population, he would accelerate training of Afghans to take over the fight while hunting Al Qaeda in Pakistan using drones and special forces. His view has caught on with many liberals in his party.
“The vice president is asking great questions and he understands this issue very, very deeply,” said Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, Mr. Biden’s successor as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. “He’s been there many times. He knows the issues and the personalities very well. He’s set out a good analysis.”
Beyond Mr. Biden’s strategic concerns, some who participated in administration deliberations earlier this year said he was keenly aware that the country, and particularly his party’s liberal base, was growing tired of the war and might not accept many more years of extensive American commitment.
Sorry it's taken me so long to post this:
In an interview, Sean Hannity cued up a "he's a socialist" answer when he asked Sarah Palin about where President Obama is taking the economy. Instead she answered with this nonsense:
A lot of this is wrapped in good rhetoric, but we're not seeing those actions, and this many months into the new administration, quite disappointed, quite frustrated with not seeing those actions to rein in spending, slow down the growth of government. Instead, China's the complete opposite. It's expanding at such a large degree that if Americans are paying attention, unfortunately, our country could evolve into something that we do not even recognize, certainly that is so far from what the founders of our countries had in mind for us.
It's good to see some things from the campaign haven't changed.
Jon brings us "the moment that epitomizes everything that is wrong with Dick Cheney, his arrogance, the media, their acquiescence, and the delightfully witty relationship between the two."
At a minimum, Obama seemed alive to the moral and legal ambiguities implied by the issue. Not so the former Vice-President, who chose to speak in a chilling code, in which methods of torture such as waterboarding became “enhanced interrogation,” in the way that death might be called “enhanced sleep.”
Cheney delivered his indictment of the current Administration in the same tone of certainty that he once used to inform the nation of the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; of the connections between the government of Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 hijackers; and of the prospects for quick victory in Iraq. In light of this, it’s hard to take seriously the claims that Cheney asked us to accept: to name just two, that the information obtained by torture saved lives; and that the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib was solely the work of “a few sadistic prison guards,” and not the result of interrogation practices approved by Cheney himself.
Even worse than Cheney’s distortions was the political agenda behind them. The speech was, as politicians say, a marker—a warning to the new Administration. “Just remember: it is a serious step to begin unravelling some of the very policies that have kept our people safe since 9/11,” Cheney said. “Seven and a half years without a repeat is not a record to be rebuked and scorned, much less criminalized. It is a record to be continued until the danger has passed.”
Cheney’s all but explicit message was that the blame for any new attack against American people or interests would be laid not on the terrorists, or on the worldwide climate of anti-Americanism created by the Bush-Cheney Administration, but on Barack Obama. For many months after the 9/11 attacks, Democrats refrained from engaging in the blame game with the Bush Administration. Cheney’s speech makes it clear that, should terrorists strike again, Republicans may not respond in kind.
Cheney’s political acumen is not to be underestimated, notwithstanding his image problems. Last week’s lopsided Senate vote suggests that Republican mastery of the politics of national security (if not of national security itself) remains intact. During the campaign, the majority of voters came to support Obama’s contention that a tradeoff between our values and our security is a false choice. (And John McCain largely agreed.) But the quick flight of most congressional Democrats from their President suggests just how difficult a political assignment Obama has given himself. Cheney, in proclaiming that another attack will prove that his policies were correct, is trying to undermine confidence in the new team in the White House. The President gave a persuasive speech last week, but it proved only that he has a lot more persuading to do.
Colin Powell appeared on Face The Nation May to rebut Dick Cheney yesterday. Part I (jump to his Cheney statement):
The NY Times' report:
Colin L. Powell challenged Dick Cheney on the legacy of the Bush administration and the future of the Republican Party on Sunday, declaring that Republicans should not bow to “diktats that come from the right wing.”
The remarks by Mr. Powell, a former secretary of state, amounted to a public rebuttal of Mr. Cheney, the former vice president, and Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio commentator, who have questioned Mr. Powell’s Republican credentials and suggested that he should leave the party.
“Rush will not get his wish,” Mr. Powell said Sunday on “Face the Nation” on CBS. “And Mr. Cheney was misinformed. I am still a Republican.”
Mr. Powell’s appearance underlined an extraordinary public struggle among Republicans over the future of the party and the legacy of the Bush administration, particularly on national security. Mr. Powell broke with Mr. Cheney on the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, saying that he agreed with President Obama that it should be closed and that Mr. Cheney disagreed as much with his former boss as with Mr. Obama.
“Mr. Cheney is not only disagreeing with President Obama’s policy,” Mr. Powell said. “He’s disagreeing with President Bush’s policy. President Bush stated repeatedly to international audiences and to the country that he wanted to close Guantánamo. The problem he had was he couldn’t get all the pieces together.”
Mr. Powell said Guantánamo prisoners could be safely housed in United States prisons, undercutting the main theme Congressional Republicans have been wielding against the president.
Still, Mr. Powell faulted Mr. Obama for failing to produce a detailed plan to close the prison and for giving his opponents time to mobilize on the issue.
In another indication of Republican discord, Tom Ridge, who was a secretary of homeland security for Mr. Bush, said on CNN that he disagreed with Mr. Cheney that the nation was less safe because of Mr. Obama’s national security policies. He, too, supports the closing of Guantánamo. The comments from Mr. Powell and Mr. Ridge come as Republican Congressional leaders are pushing to capitalize on concerns about national security and housing terrorism detainees from Guantánamo in local prisons.
But Karl Rove, who was Mr. Bush’s senior political adviser, saluted Mr. Cheney for leading the fight in challenging Mr. Obama, saying he was doing what other Republicans were not. “The vice president feels very strongly that the administration has mischaracterized and distorted the Bush administration’s record,” he said in an interview.
“I applaud Cheney,” Rove said. “No one else was stepping forward.”
On Sunday, Mr. Powell ... made clear that he thought a major threat to the party were suggestions by Republicans like Mr. Cheney and Mr. Limbaugh that there was no room for Republicans like Mr. Powell. “What the concern about me is, ‘Well, is he too moderate?’ ” Mr. Powell said. “I have always felt that the Republican Party should be more inclusive than it generally has been over the years.”
The recent exchanges underscored the turmoil in the party as it tries to assess the losses last year and judge the extent to which it needs to disassociate itself with the policies of Mr. Bush. Mr. Powell’s call for expanding the party was embraced by Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker and a leading conservative in the party, who said Republicans would be doomed to minority status if they adopted a small-tent view.
“I don’t think anybody has the authority to read anybody out of a free party,” Mr. Gingrich said in an interview. “Having started my career in Georgia when there were no Republicans and we were eager to show up, and having been in the House for 15 years as a member of the minority, I’ll tell you if we didn’t have moderates, we would never have become a majority party. You can’t be a national party without internal tension.”
Still, other Republicans said that while they agreed with Mr. Powell’s argument that the road to success was not in pushing people out of the party, there were clear signs of animosity toward him.
“There are a lot of Republicans and conservatives who are frustrated with Colin Powell because of his endorsement of President Obama,” said Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Republican of Minnesota.
Olbermann & O'Donnell react to Conservative Talkshow Host Gets Waterboarded, Says It's "absolutely torture". They make an important point that 'waterboarding' is not the correct name for this techniguq, the more accurate name is 'drowning' since that is what they do: you are drowning, you experience impending death, you are being tortured:
At bottom, Cheney's argument relies on the pernicious idea that if you disagree with him over the tactics used to fight the war on al-Qaida, you are fundamentally ignorant that a war is going on. For that reductive trick to work, Obama must play into the caricature of a weak-kneed liberal who rejects the notion that America is at war. There was nothing in Obama's speech or in his approach that obviously fits this caricature. Cheney can claim that Obama doesn't think there's a war going on, but it's hard to believe his claim when Obama is using the threat of ongoing war to explain his decision on Guantanamo. "Al-Qaida terrorists and their affiliates are at war with the United States," said Obama "and those that we capture—like other prisoners of war—must be prevented from attacking us again."
It's also hard to claim Obama is a coddler of terrorists when his recent decisions on Afghanistan, military commissions, and release of detainee photographs all seem rather pro-military. Indeed, on the left he's being accused of having been repeatedly rolled by the military. Now, the left may be wrong. But to gain purchase in the wider public debate, Cheney's argument relies on Obama being oblivious to the threat and impervious to arguments from the military and CIA. The president is clearly not oblivious. The argument has clearly not gained purchase ...
Obama framed his speech in terms of the mess that he inherited from the Bush administration. But he is also dealing with the wrath of forces that he unleashed. The president patiently explains how complex these decisions are and complains about the "politicization of these issues," but as a candidate he benefited by obscuring the complexities. Now Obama is learning and demonstrating that governing is far more complex than campaigning. That evolution, and his effort to show people the reasoning behind his positions, may be his strongest argument against Cheney. In his speech, Cheney warned Obama to "think carefully about the course ahead." It may be the least necessary piece of advice the former vice president has ever given. Obama's speech is proof that Obama is treating these issues with painstaking care.
Barack the Kid spoke of complexity. Each of his points had several subparts. Even the subparts had subparts. He explained three major decisions he had made. Then he addressed two big topics--the future of Guantanamo detainees, which could be divided into five categories, and his approach to security and transparency, which itself had several subparts ranging from declassification to the use of the states secret privilege in court. Obama wanted to add nuance to the debate over these issues, he said, still acting like a professor at the white board. "I will explain how each action that we are taking will help build a framework that protects both the American people and the values that we hold dear," he said.
Grandpa Vigilant had no time for frameworks with subpoints. In his mind the world was entirely binary: good/bad, effective/ineffective, successful/unsuccessful. The core of Cheney's argument was this claim to a digitized world of 0's and 1's ... It assumes, at its core, that the national security policies of George W. Bush, which the American people have largely judged a failure, are an all or nothing proposition. They cannot be improved, or criticized. They cannot be pieced apart into subgroups or frameworks. To put it simply, You are either with us or against us. Cheney has fashioned himself into the L. Ron Hubbard of foreign policy. To criticize is to reject. Skepticism is not a virtue, but an attack ...
What is important here is that Cheney declared, without any equivocation or nuance, that "in the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground." It was less an argument than a declaration. It was a vivid reminder of where he stands, and how he thinks. If nothing else, it is a perfect epitaph for philosophy, and an era of American history that has, at least for the moment, been thoroughly rejected by the sitting President of the United States.
Here is the most revealing passage of Dick Cheney's national security speech:
Those are the basic facts on enhanced interrogations. And to call this a program of torture is to libel the dedicated professionals who have saved American lives, and to cast terrorists and murderers as innocent victims. [emphasis added]
This is, of course, completely illogical. You can, obviously, torture a terrorist or a murderer, and nobody has suggested otherwise. But it's a form of illogic that tells you a lot about Cheney's style of thought. To object to the methods of torture used against terrorists is to declare them innocent. You're either with them or against them. The notion that terrorists may be evil but nonetheless should not be tortured is an idea too complex for his brain to process. He is a complete moral simpleton.
A Daily Dish reader:
Obama's strongest card is his basic seriousness about what he is trying to do as president. He is really hard to caricature. For all the ways in which he is different from what we are accustomed to, perhaps the biggest difference is his absolute refusal to play for the news cycle, to allow ephemeral political gamesmanship to alter his strategic focus. He will be no one but himself, and the intelligence and thoughtfulness that he brings to the big questions of his time are what really expose his opponents. I have been reading the Republicans’ highly predictable (and in the past, typically effective) attacks in response to his national security speech. They just don’t work. The predictable sound bites about “a 9/11 mentality”, “making the country less safe”, “a flowery campaign speech”…all of these ring hollow when the guy is so obviously more serious, more reflective, more interested in actually solving problems, and profoundly more respectful of both his audience and the country’s institutions than his opponents.
When the books are written about how this 47-year old black man with little Washington experience got elected president to lead this balkanized, still-race-conscious country, much will be said about demography, the litany of Bush failures, his speaking ability, and the skill of his campaign organization. What I hope will also be included is the raw power of his intellectual heft, and his insistence on avoiding shallowness, on forcing depth and rigor into public debate, and the deeply rooted patriotism and principle with which he brings it. That is the strength of his character, and it will endure far longer than the dazzling quality of his oratory or his deft political sense. It’s how he disarms his opponents and pushes us all to rethink our entire approach to politics.
Just as the White House clearly sees Obama as vulnerable to demagogic charges of wasteful spending and pork when it comes to the bailouts and stimulus, it's clear that in the current debate about torture and detainees, the flank the Obama team is covering is security. It may be true that Democrats have dramatically narrowed their longstanding national security gap with Republicans. But they clearly remain deeply insecure about the issue. (See the behavior of congressional Democrats over Gitmo this week.) Obama is trying to walk a fine line, pushing the political envelope by conceding that some detainees will end up on U.S. soil, but doing his damndest to make clear he doesn't take security lightly. A key question now is how much Democrats on the Hill will continue to make trouble on his right.
Cheney and Obama might pretend otherwise, but it wasn’t the Obama administration that halted the practice of waterboarding. It was a succession of C.I.A. directors starting in March 2003, even before a devastating report by the C.I.A. inspector general in 2004.
When Cheney lambastes the change in security policy, he’s not really attacking the Obama administration. He’s attacking the Bush administration. In his speech on Thursday, he repeated in public a lot of the same arguments he had been making within the Bush White House as the policy decisions went more and more the other way ...
What Obama gets, and what President Bush never got, is that other people’s opinions matter. Goldsmith puts it well: “The main difference between the Obama and Bush administrations concerns not the substance of terrorism policy, but rather its packaging. The Bush administration shot itself in the foot time and time again, to the detriment of the legitimacy and efficacy of its policies, by indifference to process and presentation. The Obama administration, by contrast, is intensely focused on these issues.”
Obama has taken many of the same policies Bush ended up with, and he has made them credible to the country and the world. In his speech, Obama explained his decisions in a subtle and coherent way. He admitted that some problems are tough and allow no easy solution. He treated Americans as adults, and will have won their respect.
Do I wish he had been more gracious with and honest about the Bush administration officials whose policies he is benefiting from? Yes. But the bottom line is that Obama has taken a series of moderate and time-tested policy compromises. He has preserved and reformed them intelligently. He has fit them into a persuasive framework. By doing that, he has not made us less safe. He has made us more secure.
Jeffrey Goldberg posting about his conversation with John McCain:
I asked [McCain] about Dick Cheney and his defense of Bush Administration torture policies. He told me of his fundamental disagreement with Cheney: "When you have a majority of Americans, seventy-something percent, saying we shouldn't torture, then I'm not sure it helps for the Vice President to go out and continue to espouse that position," he said. "But look, he's free to talk. He's a former Vice President of the United States. I just don't see where it helps."
And then he got acerbic: Cheney, he says, "believes that waterboarding doesn't fall under the Geneva Conventions and that it's not a form of torture. But you know, it goes back to the Spanish Inquisition."
I do have to congratulate you, Sir. No man living or dead could have passed the buck more often than you did in 35 minutes this morning. It's not your fault we water-boarded people, you said. It isn't torture, you said, even though it is based on 111 years of American military prosecutions. It was in the Constitution that you could do it, even if our laws told you, you could not. It was in the language of the 2001 military authorization you force-fed the Congress that you could do it, even if our international treaties told you, you could not.
It produced invaluable information, you said, even though the first-hand witnesses, the interrogators of these beasts, said the information preceded the torture and ended when it began. It was authorized, you said, by careful legal opinion, even though the legal opinions were dictated by you and your cronies, and, oh by the way, the torture began before the legal opinions were even written. It was authorized, you said, and you imply even if it really wasn't, it was done to "only detainees of the highest intelligence value."
It was more necessary, you said, because of the revelation of another program by the real villains, the New York Times, even though that revelation was possible because the program was detailed on the front page of the website of a defense department sub-contractor. It was all the fault of your predecessors, you said, who tried to treat terror as a "law enforcement problem," before you came to office and rode to the rescue... after you totally ignored terrorism for the first 20 percent of your first term and the worst attack on this nation in its history unfolded on your watch.
"9/11 caused everyone to take a serious second look at threats that had been gathering for awhile," you said today, "and enemies whose plans were getting bolder and more sophisticated." Gee, thanks for being motivated, by the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans, to go so far as to "take a serious second look." And thank you, Sir, for admitting, obviously inadvertently, that you did not take a serious first look in the seven months and 23 days between your inauguration and 9/11.
More evidence that Bush Tortured For Political, NOT Security Reasons: To Link Al Qaida & Iraq from CNN. And we now learn that they tortured a detainee until he said what they wanted to hear, then deluded themselves it was the truth and trumpeted the lies to the U.N. and Congress:
Finding a "smoking gun" linking Iraq and al Qaeda became the main purpose of the abusive interrogation program the Bush administration authorized in 2002, a former State Department official told CNN on Thursday.
The allegation was included in an online broadside aimed at former Vice President Dick Cheney by Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff for then-Secretary of State Colin Powell. In it, Wilkerson wrote that the interrogation program began in April and May of 2002, and then-Vice President Cheney's office kept close tabs on the questioning.
"Its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at preempting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al Qaeda," Wilkerson wrote in The Washington Note, an online political journal.
Wilkerson, a retired Army colonel, said his accusation is based on information from current and former officials. He said he has been "relentlessly digging" since 2004, when Powell asked him to look into the scandal surrounding the treatment of prisoners at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. "I couldn't walk into a courtroom and prove this to anybody, but I'm pretty sure it's fairly accurate," he told CNN.
Most of Wilkerson's online essay criticizes Cheney's recent defense of the "alternative" interrogation techniques the Bush administration authorized for use against suspected terrorists. Cheney has argued the interrogation program was legal and effective in preventing further attacks on Americans. Critics say the tactics amounted to the illegal torture of prisoners in U.S. custody and have called for investigations of those who authorized them ...
Wilkerson wrote that in one case, the CIA told Cheney's office that a prisoner under its interrogation program was now "compliant," meaning agents recommended the use of "alternative" techniques should stop. At that point, "The VP's office ordered them to continue the enhanced methods," Wilkerson wrote.
"The detainee had not revealed any al Qaeda-Baghdad contacts yet. This ceased only after Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, under waterboarding in Egypt, 'revealed' such contacts."
Al-Libi's claim that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's government had trained al Qaeda operatives in producing chemical and biological weapons appeared in the October 2002 speech then-President Bush gave when pushing Congress to authorize military action against Iraq. It also was part of Powell's February 2003 presentation to the United Nations on the case for war, a speech Powell has called a "blot" on his record.
Al-Libi later recanted the claim, saying it was made under torture by Egyptian intelligence agents, a claim Egypt denies. He died last week in a Libyan prison, reportedly a suicide, Human Rights Watch reported.
Stacy Sullivan, a counterterrorism adviser for the U.S.-based group, called al-Libi's allegation "pivotal" to the Bush administration's case for war, as it connected Baghdad to the terrorist organization behind the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.
And an Army psychiatrist assigned to support questioning of suspected terrorists at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba told the service's inspector-general that interrogators there were trying to connect al Qaeda and Iraq.
"This is my opinion," Maj. Paul Burney told the inspector-general's office. "Even though they were giving information and some of it was useful, while we were there a large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between aI Qaeda and Iraq and we were not being successful in establishing a link between aI Qaeda and Iraq. The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish this link ... there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results."
Burney's account was included in a Senate Armed Services Committee report released in April. Other interrogators reported pressure to produce intelligence "but did not recall pressure to identify links between Iraq and al Qaeda," the Senate report states.
Dan Balz reacts:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's extraordinary accusation that the Bush administration lied to Congress about the use of harsh interrogation techniques dramatically raised the stakes in the growing debate over the Bush administration's anti-terrorism policies even as it raised some questions about the speaker's credibility.
Pelosi's performance in the Capitol was either a calculated escalation of a long-running feud with the Bush administration or a reckless act by a politician whose word had been called into question. Perhaps it was both.
For the first time, Pelosi (D-Calif.) acknowledged that in 2003 she was informed by an aide that the CIA had told others in Congress that officials had used waterboarding during interrogations. But she insisted, contrary to CIA accounts, that she was not told about waterboarding during a September 2002 briefing by agency officials. Asked whether she was accusing the CIA of lying, she replied, "Yes, misleading the Congress of the United States."
Washington now is engaged in a battle royal of finger-pointing, second-guessing and self-defense, all over techniques President Obama banned in the first days of his administration. Both sides in this debate believe they have something to prove -- and gain -- by keeping the fight alive.
Both sides have champions and villains. Pelosi has become a lightning rod for criticism from conservatives, and a hero to the left, much as former vice president Richard B. Cheney has become a target of the left and the darling of many on the right.
The speaker's charges about the CIA's alleged deception and her shifting accounts of what she knew and when she knew it are likely to add to calls for some kind of independent body to investigate this supercharged issue, though Obama and many members of Congress would like to avoid a wholesale unearthing of the past at a time when their plates are full with pressing concerns.
Closing the books on the George W. Bush years has proven harder than anyone imagined -- certainly harder than Obama hoped. The intensifying argument over what the CIA told Pelosi and when comes on top of the debate over whether any Bush administration officials should face legal action for their roles in authorizing or implementing the interrogation policies and whether a national commission is needed to get to the truth ...
Conservatives say that, if Pelosi was so opposed to torture, she should have spoken out forcefully when she learned that these techniques were being employed. Her failure to do so then leaves her in a weakened position to protest now, they argue. An op-ed article by senior Bush White House adviser Karl Rove in yesterday's Wall Street Journal asked directly: "So is the speaker of the House lying about what she knew and when? And, if so, what will Democrats do about it?"
Pelosi gave some ground on the question of whether she had been informed that waterboarding was being used -- though by her account she did not learn about it until February 2003, rather than in 2002, and then only from her aide. Instead of registering her protest to the administration, she said, she set out to help Democrats win control of Congress and elect a Democrat as president.
But in attempting to defend herself, Pelosi took the remarkable step of trying to shift the focus of blame to the CIA and the Bush administration, claiming that the CIA accounts represented a diversionary tactic in the real debate over the interrogation policies. That amounted to a virtual declaration of war against the CIA at a time when the Obama administration already has rattled morale at the agency with the release of Justice Department memos authorizing the harsh interrogation techniques.
House Republican Leader John A. Boehner (Ohio) was quick to challenge Pelosi. Within minutes of her contentious news conference, he emerged to question her accusations. He left no doubt that Republicans believe that the speaker has made a major misstep that will hurt her and perhaps her party as this controversy plays out.The various parties all have their own priorities now. Pelosi not only wants to clear her name but also favors a truth commission to answer questions about how the interrogation policies came to be and whether they were as effective as Cheney and others claim. Cheney is determined to defend the policies he helped shape and to force the new administration into a different posture on its anti-terrorism strategy. Outside groups, and the grass-roots activists they speak for, are prepared to continue litigating the Bush presidency.
From the Wash Post:
Today Cheney is the most visible -- and controversial -- critic of President Obama's national security policies and, to the alarm of many people in the Republican Party, the most forceful and uncompromising defender of the Bush administration's record. His running argument with the new administration has spawned a noisy side debate all its own: By leading the criticism, is Cheney doing more harm than good to the causes he has taken up and to the political well-being of his party?
His defenders believe he has sparked a discussion of vital importance to the safety of the country, and they hold up Obama's reversal of a decision to release photos of detainee abuse as a sign that Cheney is having an effect. But there is a potential political price that his party may pay in having one of the highest officials in an administration repudiated in the last election continue to argue his case long after the voters have rendered their decision.
Cheney entered the arena this winter in a politically weak position after that election. His personal favorability ratings were and are still low. A Gallup poll in late March found that 30 percent of respondents gave him a favorable rating, while 63 percent rated him unfavorably.
That is why his high-profile defense of controversial Bush administration policies has caused queasiness among Republican political strategists. But Cheney remains powerful enough that most of his GOP critics are not willing to take him on in public. "The fact that most people want to talk [without attribution] shows what a problem it continues to be," said one Republican strategist who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to be candid. "Cheney continues to be a force among many members of our base, and while he is entirely unhelpful, no one has the standing to show him the door" ...
"This isn't about partisan politics, it's about what's right for the country," said Liz Cheney, the former vice president's daughter and a former State Department official. "Every American, whether you're a Republican, Democrat or independent, would agree that before critical decisions are made about national security of the nation, we ought to have a full and fair debate."
Cheney's daughter was among those who pointed to yesterday's White House reversal on the detainee photos as evidence that a vocal, public debate over the new administration's policies can make a difference.
Another GOP strategist, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, pointed out the conundrum for Republicans over the former vice president's current role. "Even if he's right, he's absolutely the wrong messenger," this strategist said. His main worry, he added, is that Cheney keeps the public focused on the past, rather than the future. "We want Bush to be a very distant memory in the next election. The more Cheney is on the front burner, the more difficult it's going to be."
"He's perfectly entitled to make his case, and given that Dick Cheney is as popular as Britney Spears at a Sunday school teacher convention, we hope he continues to be the face of the Republican Party," said Hari Sevugan, national press secretary for the Democratic National Committee. "His continued presence reminds people that the GOP is unwilling to put forward new ideas or leadership, and so long as he continues to be the voice of the Republican cause, he ensures that the Republican Party will remain the party of the past."
From Eugene Robinson:
For the final act of his too-long public career, Cheney seems to have decided to become an Old Faithful of self-serving nonsense. His latest in a series of eruptions came Sunday on "Face the Nation," when he continued to press his revisionist case for torture -- and, for good measure, counseled his beloved Republican Party to marginalize itself even further from public opinion and common sense.
... I do know why Cheney gets asked to appear on talk shows so regularly. Unrestrained by protocol or objective reality, he's pretty much guaranteed to say outrageous things. He requires no prompting or coaxing. As far as he's concerned, issues have just one side -- his -- and anyone who disagrees must secretly wish to deliver our nation to al-Qaeda ...
This is the crux of Cheney's "argument," and I put the word in quotation marks because it isn't really a valid argument at all. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Bush administration approved programs and methods that previously would have been considered illegal or unacceptable: arbitrary and indefinite detention of terrorism suspects, waterboarding and other abusive interrogation methods, secret CIA prisons, unprecedented electronic surveillance. Since 2001, there have been no new attacks on what the Bush administration creepily called the "homeland." Therefore, everything that was done in the name of preventing new attacks was justified.
The fallacy lies in the fact that it is impossible for Cheney to prove that anti-terrorism methods within the bounds of U.S. law and tradition would have failed to prevent new attacks. Nor, for that matter, can Cheney demonstrate that torture and other abuses were particularly effective ...
"Well, if I had to choose in terms of being a Republican, I'd go with Rush Limbaugh, I think," Cheney said. "I think my take on it was Colin had already left the party. I didn't know he was still a Republican."
Let's see: Given a choice between a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state who has given to his nation a lifetime of exemplary public service or an entertainer who brags about how much money he makes from bombast and bluster, Cheney would go with the gasbag. This is advice that's supposed to help the Republican Party?
Click the picture to watch the Telnaes animation:
The Wash Post's writeup of their adventure:
Their standing weekly lunch is served by butlers on the finest china in a private White House dining room. President Obama and Vice President Biden sit at opposite ends of a polished mahogany table, a golden chandelier hanging overhead and a cerebral John Quincy Adams staring down at them from a portrait.Yesterday, however, Barack and Joe wanted to show they're still in touch with the people -- and what better way than waiting in line for a big juicy burger. An aide knew just the spot. So at 12:26 p.m., they hopped in their motorcade, zoomed across the Potomac River into Virginia, and pulled up outside 1713 Wilson Blvd. The popular joint in a plain Arlington strip mall has no sign, but neighbors know it as the home of Ray's Hell Burger, and the spot is beloved as much for its premium aged 10-ounce hamburgers as for its bare-bones decor.
The world's most powerful man, and the guy a heartbeat away, waited patiently in a single-file line as the lunch crowd gawked -- and as two customers in front of them at the counter pondered the menu leisurely, apparently oblivious to whom they were holding up. Then it came time to order ...
"Are your fries pretty good? Can you vouch for your fries?" Obama asked.
Ray's doesn't do fries, said the guy behind the counter, Tim Murray. But Murray suggested the president try "Cheesy Tater Puffs," which are pureed potatoes with cheddar cheese and chives flash-fried like Tater Tots. Obama looked skeptical, but asked for one order for him and Biden to share.
Obama and Biden went Dutch -- basic cheeseburgers cost $7.95 -- as each pulled a wad of cash from his wallet to pay. But Obama bought burgers for reporters, cameramen and staff, including personal aide Reggie Love. "We're paying, or these people are gonna write about how we're freeloading," Obama said, pointing to members of the press corps, whom he dismissed as "cheap dates."
The president left $5 in the tip jar.
Murray said he was impressed the two carried cash -- and thankful, too, since the burger joint is cash-only. "I didn't want to say, 'I'm sorry, Mr. President, we can't take your credit card. You've got to use the ATM.' "
Yolanda Pineda, 29, manned the grill and cooked the burgers with special care. "For Obama," she said, "especial!" ...
The lunch date lasted 34 minutes and by the time Obama and Biden stepped back into their motorcade, after posing for cellphone pictures with the restaurant's staff, dozens of people had gathered outside the restaurant to cheer. The outing was broadcast on national television. And as a public relations move, it appeared to be a success:
Bonnie Cosby, 51, a technology consultant who picked up burgers on her way home from work, opined: "It shows that he's in touch with the people, that he's not up in the ivory tower. He's a real person -- with a burger."
The raw video. Notice how he speaks so deliberately, seemingly thinking deep thoughts, even when ordering a burger!
It is now obvious that Bush & Cheney's "just a few bad apples" claim about the Abu Ghraib torturers was a lie: those soldiers weren't rogue, they were doing exactly what the Administration wanted. Yet, once the public uproar ensued, Bush & Cheney hid behind them, kept quite and left them hanging out to dry & face prison on their own. How noble.
Too bad Cheny is so graceless he can't keep his mouth shut. And Hannity remains a complete tool. Worse, these guys are so out of date, that they only know how to show power by measuring and comparing their members (see Obama Is Our First Post-Feminist President).
He also condemns Cheney's view of torture:
At least as reported by the NY Times:
... The description (“Biden eats anything”) extends to the heaping plate of policy assignments the vice president has been served in recent weeks. He has been charged with overseeing the distribution of the $787 billion authorized by the economic stimulus bill, heading the White House’s “middle-class task force” and jumping into any number of treacherous diplomatic arenas, from Pakistan to Capitol Hill.
Officials involved in the deliberations said Mr. Biden had been influential in Mr. Obama’s development of a new approach to Afghanistan, announced Friday, arguing for a relatively limited increase of military, diplomatic and economic involvement.
Mr. Biden has settled into a role of what Mr. Obama compares to a basketball player “who does a bunch of things that don’t show up in the stat sheet,” the president said in an interview Friday. “He gets that extra rebound, takes the charge, makes that extra pass.”
Mr. Biden’s reputation for windiness, self-regard and unrestrained ambition have long prompted some degree of eye-rolling around him and probably always will. But what has been striking to many in the administration has been how strenuously the president has worked to include him and, perhaps most notably, the influence Mr. Biden appears to be wielding.
Top aides say it has become customary for Mr. Obama to solicit Mr. Biden’s opinion at the end of meetings. But his views by no means always carry the day. ... Mr. Obama ... has come to see Mr. Biden as a useful contrarian in the course of decision-making. Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, said that “when there’s group-think going on, the vice president tends to push the envelope in the other direction.” ...
“There’s, I think, an institutional barrier sometimes to truth-telling in front of the president,” Mr. Obama said. “Joe is very good about sometimes articulating what’s on other people’s minds, or things that they’ve said in private conversations that people have been less willing to say in public. Joe, in that sense, can help stir the pot.” ...
Early indications are that the partnership has evolved as they had imagined. “I think he’s playing the role as ‘adviser in chief’ that he has foreseen,” Mrs. Clinton said of Mr. Biden, adding that he was “involved in the whole agenda of the president.”
When both men are in town, Mr. Biden regularly makes the 17-step walk from his West Wing office to the president’s. They speak by phone (communicating rarely if ever by e-mail), and Mr. Obama will spontaneously call and ask the vice president to join him in meetings.
Mr. Biden attends Mr. Obama’s morning briefings on national security and the economy. He has full access to the president’s schedule and is free to attend anything.
People close to Mr. Obama said he had come to appreciate his vice president’s loyalty, practical view of politics and connection with working-class voters. The president, they said, finds Mr. Biden reminiscent — in a good way — of a lot of the ethnic politicians who pervaded an older generation in Chicago.
Mr. Biden also has a different approach to group decision-making, which Mr. Obama believes adds value to the undertaking. Mr. Biden is inclined to throw notions on the table and think out loud, which contrasts with Mr. Obama’s more deliberate, restrained style.
From the NY Times:
“How many terrorists have actually been brought to justice under the philosophy that is being promoted by Vice President Cheney?” Mr. Obama said Friday in an interview to be broadcast Sunday on “60 Minutes” on CBS.
The president was responding to recent charges by Mr. Cheney that the administration’s decision to shut down the Guantánamo prison, along with other policies on the treatment of terrorism suspects, would make the United States more vulnerable to attacks.
Bush administration terrorism policy “hasn’t made us safer,” Mr. Obama said, according to excerpts of the interview released Saturday.
First, Dick Cheney makes the typical GOP, fear mongering attack on the Obama administration:
In his first television interview since leaving office, Mr. Cheney criticized Mr. Obama’s decision to close down the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. Mr. Cheney told CNN that Bush administration counterterrorism policies were “absolutely essential” to prevent a repeat of the Sept. 11 attacks.
“President Obama campaigned against it all across the country,” Mr. Cheney said. “And now, he is making some choices that in my mind will, in fact, raise the risk to the American people of another attack.”
Then Robert Gibbs provides a nontypical response:
So of course the Washington press establishment, in the form of CBS' Chip Reid, recoils, but Gibbs doesn't back down:
Finally, Eric Kleefled makes a good point:
Now let's consider the full context here. Dick Cheney did an interview with CNN in which he went out of his way to repeatedly attack the new White House, saying they were putting the country at risk of a new terror attack. But the question here is whether it's appropriate for the Obama Administration to fire back in response -- that it's Obama's people who are accused of showing insufficient respect to the office?
Breaking news from the Onion (hat tip Kathy!):
Organizers reported Sunday that the 44th White House Carnival was a rousing success, raising a record $800,000,066,845 for the federal government—$800 billion of which came from a dunk tank featuring former vice president Dick Cheney.
According to Secretary of the Treasury and carnival volunteer Timothy Geithner, the 5-foot-deep tank has provided a much-needed boost to the nation's flagging economy.
"We expected a big turn out, but this is unbelievable," said Geithner, adding that it's tradition for the outgoing vice president to work the dunk tank. "More than half the country has already gone, and there's still about 20 million people stretching all the way to Maryland waiting for their chance to sink Cheney. We'll be leaving this booth open for as long as it takes for everyone to get a turn." ...
"All right, you candy arms, let's go," Cheney shouted at the line of people, which consisted of Americans, non-Americans, out-of-work autoworkers, teachers, luminaries from the science community, gays, lesbians, military personnel, members of Congress, children, and the entire Arab-American population. "Hey [former British prime minister Tony] Blair. I see you back there. Think you'll be able to stop crying long enough to throw the ball?" ...
Unlike Biller, who carefully threw the ball at the bull's-eye, many citzens opted instead to aim directly at the head and chest of the 67-year-old politician.
One contestant who struggled to hit the target was Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). After nearly 20 unsuccessful tries, several of which involved Kerry standing well ahead of the thrower's line, carnival officials finally allowed Kerry to just walk up and press the button with his hand ...
"I think that son of a bitch was actually having a good time up there," said attendee and former press secretary Ari Fleischer. "Much different than in 2000 when Al Gore refused to take off his T-shirt."
While the dunk tank remained busy throughout the evening, reports from the other side of the White House lawn were less favorable, with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice having not yet received a single customer at her kissing booth.
From Michael Crowley:
Classsic exchange here from Cheney's self-serving exit interview with PBS's Jim Lehrer.
MR. LEHRER: So it doesn't trouble you at all to be leaving office next week with the overwhelming disapproval of the majority of the people, as measured by the polls? It doesn't bother you, personally?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: I don't buy that. No, first of all - I don't buy that. And I find, when I get out and talk with people, that that's not the unanimous view, as you would have it. Things that count for me, in terms of the people I want to make certain are with us are, for example, the American military - young men and women who serve, the folks who go out and put their lives on the line to carry out the policies we've decided upon.
Cheney's best defense is that he is not unanimously disliked? That must be a first. And then we get the novel argument that as long as the military supports him he doesn't care what anyone else thinks. Sounds more like something you'd hear from a tinpot dictator in aviator shades and ill-fitting uniform, not the duly elected* vice president of the United States.
*In 2004, at least!
The dancing babies made me laugh ...
A remarkable 32% of Americans choose Barack Obama as the man they most admire living anywhere in the world today, putting him in the No. 1 position on Gallup's annual Most Admired Man list. Hillary Clinton earns the top spot for Most Admired Woman, named by 20%.
No one comes close to matching Obama in percentage mentions on this year's list of most admired men, based on a Dec. 12-14 USA Today/Gallup poll. By contrast, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin makes a strong showing in second place for Most Admired Woman, garnering 11% of all mentions.
The 32% of Americans naming Obama as the man they most admire is extraordinarily high, nearly matching the 39% of Americans who named George W. Bush in the immediate wake of the 9/11 attacks. At that time, Bush's presidential job approval rating was a soaring 86%. It is also higher than former presidents Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush received in any of their appearances on Gallup's Most Admired Man list.
Obama is the first president-elect since Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 to top the list. And he has done it with a runaway high figure. For comparison, as president-elect in December 2000, George W. Bush was mentioned by just 5% of Americans, ranking him fourth. In December 1992, president-elect Bill Clinton ranked second behind outgoing president George H.W. Bush, with 15%. And in 1988, then president-elect Bush achieved third place, with 9% ...
This is the seventh consecutive year that Hillary Clinton has secured top billing as Americans' Most Admired Woman -- and the 13th year she has made the top ten since her first appearance on the list in 1993. The 20% naming Clinton this year is comparable to what she received in 2007 (18%), but falls short of the 28% naming her in 1998.
Palin, McCain's 2008 vice presidential pick and the first woman ever to run on a Republican presidential ticket, makes a strong second place debut, named by 11% of Americans. Her entrance on the list crowds Oprah Winfrey out of second place, a position she held each year from 2002 through 2007. Winfrey now ranks third, mentioned by 8% of Americans (down from 16%) a year ago.