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Yash Gupta
Business School Dean

Yash Gupta

Yash Gupta is Professor and Dean of The Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.

Attacks, Not Advice

It appears as if former Vice President Cheney is trying to define his own legacy. That's something true leaders never do. Their record will determine what kind of legacy is awarded to them. They can't campaign for it.

Whenever any leader steps down - and this applies to both the public and private sectors -- he or she has to provide a space in which his or her successor can operate comfortably and confidently. To criticize your successor in public is to deny him the opportunity to do his job as he sees fit. It minimizes his effectiveness and his authority. It comes across as sour grapes.

The former leader must always maintain a balanced view. He must be able to acknowledge mistakes he made during his own tenure. If he can't do that, then he's not a person of real leadership. Strong leaders are vulnerable enough to recognize that they're fallible. When they have that kind of perspective, then they know better than to lash out publicly at their successors. Besides, the former leader doesn't have the same detailed, up-to-date information as the one currently holding the reins, so he could be setting himself up for embarrassment by going public with his criticisms.

If Mr. Cheney is so deeply concerned about the policies of the new administration, he should call President Obama directly. The proper approach would be to offer advice or comment through informal channels or proxies. National television isn't the right platform.

It's true that former presidents have criticized sitting presidents at times, but it was always much later in the sitting president's tenure, not during the first few months. Mr. Cheney has been criticizing President Obama from the very start. He should remember that the President was elected by a large majority, and that the public has expressed confidence in him. When you consider Mr. Cheney's comments within that context, they look more like personal attacks than helpful advice on policy.

By Yash Gupta

 |  May 12, 2009; 10:25 AM ET
Category:  Followership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Remember, Dick Cheney did not protect Americans on 9/11. It was under his protective wing that thousands of American citizens were killed. His activity as Vice President does not command respect. History will judge him poorly and the justice system might do so as well.

Posted by: IRemember | May 15, 2009 10:43 AM
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This is all CheneySpeak.

CheneySpeak creates CheneySpin.

CheneySpin goal is to save CheneyButt



Human beings can legitimize almost any behavior if they can argue circumstantial justification. Maybe that's why the Geneva Convention Articles were so precisely written; to prevent the sabotage of justice via politic.

Here's an example of a seemingly good-intentioned program that turned out badly.


Posted by: CitizenWeeping | May 14, 2009 4:06 AM
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Cheney is totally self serving. He's more worried about his own stinken hide than the welfare of the country. And, it's incredibly bad form for him to be publicly criticizing the current president, especially on matters of national security. His time has past, so what is he really trying to accomplish? It's so obvious. He knows he's potentially in big trouble as one of the master minds of a torture program, so is doing everything he can to spin it his way.

Posted by: ggwalt | May 13, 2009 4:37 PM
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It was very classy and intellectual for Obama to make crass jokes about Cheney - at the same event where his #1 comedienne was calling loyal Americans traitors and calling for their death.

Posted by: pkhenry | May 13, 2009 4:26 PM
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Obama has scarcely gone a day without attacking Bush and Cheney. Bad form on Obama's part.

Because the Washington Post consists primarily of liberal activists pretending to be journalists, they tend to ask the wrong questions.

Posted by: pkhenry | May 13, 2009 4:21 PM
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This reflects more on the political hacks currently occupying the White House than it does the Bush administration.

How about this leftist nonsense:

It is bad to waterboard terrorist withholding information that could save lives
It is OK to allow newborn infants to die if they were born during a botched abortion
It is OK to fully deliver an infant, except for keeping the head in the birth canal, for the sole purpose of mutilating the babies brains and KILLING IT!!!!

Our president opposed the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act and he opposed the ban on partial (near-full) birth abortions, but dog-gone it, you better be nice to those terrorists.

Elect a radical leftist and this is the nonsense you get.

Posted by: JimMF | May 13, 2009 3:26 PM
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Cheney's just laying out his inevitable courtroom defense against the day he's indicted for war crimes (and by extention treason as well). It's so obvious that he's a criminal, in so many ways, that I don't understand why he's not already in jail.

Posted by: mrobertb | May 13, 2009 3:01 PM
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Well actually it is sad to see that Mr. Cheney doesn't have enough class to contact Mr. Obama directly, which he clearly would have access. This is what itellectual people do, so i guess it speaks of his character.

There is something that is very untrust worthy about Mr. Cheney, i wouldn't trust him with my life. He seems to be the type that would say, its my fault I died while defending my country.

It would seem this would be a time to show the true patriot he is, by contacting the families of fallen soldiers, and maybe doing fundraisers for the families of soldiers that have lost their loved ones in this useless war.

But it seems Mr. Cheney wants to represent his childhood.

thank you

Posted by: weaverf | May 13, 2009 9:52 AM
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Cheney has the responsibility as a citizen "whistleblower" to speak and say his informed opinion if he sees the country falling in danger. Those who would shut him up, like the Dean of the Johns Hopkins Business School, do this country a disservice by trying to say he should not speak out in the media. That would be like telling the Democrats to shut up if Republicans were in power and the Democrats were on the sidelines. The Democrats may not like it, but this country is still the land of free speech - but maybe the Dean of ths Business School of Johns Hopkins didn't know that?

Posted by: steven7753 | May 13, 2009 9:50 AM
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I think what Cheney is doing is obvious. There have been calls for prosecution. Cheney is simply getting out there and redefining the discussion. We are no longer talking about prosecuting war crimes but instead, thanks to Cheney changing the subject, discussing whether torture worked. That should not be the discussion. Certainly torture will get information from a person. That has never been the issue, but Cheney is now making it the issue.

Stop letting this man define the discussion. If laws were broken we need to have prosecutors look into it. The discussion should be whether crimes were committed, not whether any glimer of good information came from possible crimes.

Posted by: bevjims1 | May 13, 2009 8:43 AM
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It appears that former VP Cheney is one of the few Republicans who will go after Democrats the way Democrats go after Republicans. Too bad more Republicans aren't more aggressive and give the Dems a dose of their own medicine.

Posted by: mpixton1 | May 13, 2009 8:20 AM
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The writers misuse the term "sour grapes." The meaning of "sour grapes" is to the falsely deny one's desire for something sought, but not acquired. The term comes from an Aesop's fable where a fox wanted grapes but, only after failing to reach them, he said he never really wanted them because they were too sour. While the appropriateness of Cheney's behavior is questionable, it certainly should not be defined as "sour grapes."

Posted by: Nevergen | May 13, 2009 7:39 AM
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"The proper approach would be to offer advice or comment through informal channels or proxies. National television isn't the right platform."

It's the right platform if you're trying to stir up enough controversy and raise enough dust to prevent being prosecuted.

That's Cheney's objective, and it's completely self-serving. Sadly, the witless broadcast media are giving him the forum to pursue his goal.

Posted by: kjohnson3 | May 12, 2009 2:39 PM
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