Biden, Cheney Sound Off On Sunday Talks Shows
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
LINDA WERTHEIMER, Host:
Joining us now, as she does most Mondays, is NPR's news analyst Cokie Roberts. Good morning, Cokie.
COKIE ROBERTS: Hi, Linda.
WERTHEIMER: Former vice president, Dick Cheney, he's been very critical of the Obama administration in terms of national security, and he was on the air yesterday to repeat his criticisms.
ROBERTS: He did. He criticized the way the administration approaches terrorists, and when he was confronted with the fact that's the same way his administration handled things, he conceded that there are hard decisions here, but he thinks that the Bush administration's tough tactics - including waterboarding, which the International Red Cross has called terrorism - were better than this administration's approach.
WERTHEIMER: Vice presidents often say the sharp things that the statesman like president doesn't want to say, but Mr. Cheney is no longer anybody's vice president. So, what's he doing? We haven't heard any hints that he is standing in for President Bush, who's made no critical comments at all.
ROBERTS: No. And, in fact, yesterday, he was asked if he had talked to President Bush - the former President Bush - about all this. And he said, well, nobody has been critical of him for his criticisms. You know, usually we hear former vice presidents do this when they're running for president, but there is no hint that Dick Cheney is doing that. The current vice president, Joe Biden, was asked repeatedly, yesterday, what he thinks the former vice president is up to and here is what he said.
JOE BIDEN: That's Dick Cheney. I mean, thank God, the last administration didn't listen to him at the end.
ROBERTS: Biden was speaking on the CBS program, "Face the Nation." That was one of the two programs Linda, the vice president was on. The administration clearly was nervous about Cheney being out there, and they had the vice president now to critique him. They also had General Jim Jones out on a couple of other programs. The administration's sending the message, we are tough on national security. That comes at the same time as the surge in Afghanistan, something that Cheney said he very much agreed with. And recent polls show a majority of Republicans agreeing with it. Of course, the problem for the president is that's where he loses his Democratic base because they hate this increased war, and so that's making it hard for him on the legislative front.
WERTHEIMER: Whereas Senate Democrats were unable to come up with a jobs bill last week, and that was partly because of unhappiness on the liberal wing of the party. What's going to happen about the measure that the president called, the number one priority - jobs.
ROBERTS: Well, some Democrats are saying that what Majority Leader Harry Reid thought was a bipartisan bill, that it has too many Republican tax breaks in it. Others are worried that it has too much spending in it and that they will be criticized for that spending. They're looking at polls, Linda. Like a recent ABC News poll showing voters prefer Republicans in the coming elections, and the Democrats are basically panicking.
WERTHEIMER: And the health care bill's still hanging out there. How is all this going to affect health care?
ROBERTS: Well, they're sparing over a bipartisan summit that the president has called on health care. Republicans are looking at those same polls, of course, and they see things going their way, so they think they should just keep on doing what they are doing or not doing, which is not agreeing on any legislation. But there are some warning signs for them there, too. More voters say that Republicans are not doing enough to cooperate to get things done than Democrats. So they have to be a little bit careful there. But right now, they think they are just, you know, doing what they are doing is working.
WERTHEIMER: Coke, thanks very much.
ROBERTS: Good to be with you.
WERTHEIMER: That's NPR's Cokie Roberts.
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