Jon Meacham's self-contradictory assault on Barack Obama's legitimacy

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

Newsweek's Jon Meacham argues that Dick Cheney should run for president in 2012. There's so much wrong with Meacham's thinking, it's hard to know where to start. But let's try the beginning:

I think we should be taking the possibility of a Dick Cheney bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 more seriously, for a run would be good for the Republicans and good for the country. (The sound you just heard in the background was liberal readers spitting out their lattes.)

Really? We're still on this liberals-drink-lattes crap? Yawn.

Back to Meacham:

Why? Because Cheney is a man of conviction, has a record on which he can be judged, and whatever the result, there could be no ambiguity about the will of the people.

Right there, in his third sentence, Jon Meacham gave away his little game: He seeks to suggest that there is currently "ambiguity" about the will of the people. That two straight elections in which the Democrats kicked the Republicans' butts -- so much so that Barack Obama carried Indiana and North Carolina -- were somehow ambiguous and don't count. That Barack Obama isn't really a legitimate president, because he didn't have to defeat Dick Cheney to get the job.

This is stupid and dangerous.


The best way to settle arguments is by having what we used to call full and frank exchanges about the issues, and then voting.

A) Not really and B) We've actually had a few of those voting things recently, despite what Meacham seems to think. And we'll have a few more in the future, with or without Dick Cheney.


One of the problems with governance since the election of Bill Clinton has been the resolute refusal of the opposition party (the GOP from 1993 to 2001, the Democrats from 2001 to 2009, and now the GOP again in the Obama years) to concede that the president, by virtue of his victory, has a mandate to take the country in a given direction.

Right. I remember the Democrats being so convinced that President Bush wasn't legitimate and didn't have a mandate that they filibustered his 2001 tax cuts (which were significantly larger than those he campaigned on) and his education bill and tried to impeach him as soon as they got the opportunity and ... Oh. Wait. Never mind. That didn't happen. None of it did. Jon Meacham's both-sides-are-guilty paint-by-numbers approach to column-writing is nothing but a lie.

Also: Meacham's complaints about "the opposition party" refusing to concede that "the president, by virtue of his victory, has a mandate" to govern are a little odd coming so soon after Meacham refused to concede that President Obama, by virtue of his victory, has a mandate to govern.

More Meacham:

A Cheney victory would mean that America preferred a vigorous unilateralism to President Obama's unapologetic multilateralism, and vice versa.

Well, no, that isn't really what elections mean. And if it was ... Well, again, we just had two straight elections in which the results were pretty damn unambiguous, no matter how badly Meacham wants to pretend otherwise.

Back to Meacham (skipping ahead a bit):

A campaign would also give us an occasion that history denied us in 2008: an opportunity to adjudicate the George W. Bush years in a direct way. As John McCain pointed out in the fall of 2008, he is not Bush. Nor is Cheney, but the former vice president would make the case for the harder-line elements of the Bush world view.

Well, actually, the direct way to "adjudicate" the George W. Bush years would be to, you know, put people on trial for crimes they committed during those years. An election eight years after the fact is an awfully indirect way to adjudicate anything.

Anyway, here's the basic problem: Meacham simultaneously downplays the importance of elections in determining the will of the people (by pretending that the "thumpin'" Bush took in 2006 and Barack Obama's convincing 2008 victory were meaningless) and overstates it (by pretending that the Obama-Cheney Steel Cage Death Match of his schoolboy dreams would forever remove any ambiguity.)

There is, then one impressive thing about Meacham's column: He manages to be completely wrong in two opposite directions simultaneously.

Jon Meacham
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