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Ken Adelman
Political advisor

Ken Adelman

A Reagan-era Ambassador and Arms Control Director, Ken Adelman is co-founder and vice-president of Movers and Shakespeares, which offers executive training and leadership development.

Motivated by Real Concern

It's surely an occupational hazard of great figures that they stick around too long.

Think of the giants over the past century -- both Roosevelts, Teddy and Theodore; Winston Churchill; Charles de Gaulle; Margaret Thatcher; and gobs more -- all clung to power, adoring the limelight and thus ending their public service more in pathos than glory. Malcolm Muggeridge quipped that he's rather a vastly diminished Winston Churchill in office, than an Antony Eden in all his powers. Still, hanging on when vastly diminished isn't leadership. It's egotism.

Dick Cheney's case, for me, is tougher. He's no longer in power -- the Founding Fathers solved that one! -- but remains in the limelight. Having known him well from the late 1960s until we parted indecorously four years ago, I'm sure that he's primarily motivated by real national security concerns. He's convinced that the whole approach of the Bush Administration -- defeating the Taliban, taking over Iraq, tough interrogation, beefing up intelligence -- kept America safe.

What could he be doing now that could be more important -- when totally convinced that the past hard approach worked, while this soft approach endangers? Weakness is provocative. So the judgment on Cheney's speaking out differs from that string of great figures hanging on in decline.

Evaluating Cheney's behavior of giving his opinion hinges upon one critical question: Whether Cheney's opinion is right or wrong. If right, it's hard to argue that he shouldn't be presenting it. If wrong, it's easy to say that he too should just sit down, get out of the way, so we're not again inflicted with yet more pathos.

By Ken Adelman

 |  May 12, 2009; 12:15 PM ET
Category:  Followership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Hello Pot (Cheney), this is Kettle (Adelman). As much one may disagree with Cheney, couldn't one say that you Mr. Adelman are clinging to a silly notion that your thoughts are relevent in this day and age? Last time I checked, you were relevent in the 80s - and now you are still seeking to capitalize on your "Republican credentials."

Posted by: kjunah | May 25, 2009 9:46 PM
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I'll add my "second" to the end of AMviennaVA's argument:

I seriously doubt that Cheney is correct on this, but for the sake of argument, let us concede Adelman's point about the need for a "corrective" voice on this issue of national security. The problem Adelman doesn't confront is that Cheney's real and well-deserved lack of credibility STILL makes him the wrong person to be making the point. If Cheney turns out to be a Cassandra, he will have himself to blame. Bummer. For him, and for all of us.

Posted by: post_reader_in_wv | May 13, 2009 4:42 PM
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I'll add my "second" to the end of AMviennaVA's argument:

I seriously doubt that Cheney is correct on this, but for the sake of argument, let us concede Adelman's point about the need for a "corrective" voice on this issue of national security. The problem Adelman doesn't confront is that Cheney's real and well-deserved lack of credibility STILL makes him the wrong person to be making the point. If Cheney turns out to be a Cassandra, he will have himself to blame. Bummer. For him, and for all of us.

Posted by: post_reader_in_wv | May 13, 2009 4:41 PM
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You're sure Cheney is "primarily motivated by real national security concerns?" Think again.

Posted by: debbieqd | May 13, 2009 4:26 PM
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I posted this elsewhere, but when Cheney was in office (any office), he was silent as the grave, other than to say 'trust me'. Most importantly, every single claim he made on national security and defense turned out to be false; actually a flat lie. He now insists that some memos he claims exist must be released. I find that fascinating, assuming that they exist: (1) If the information on them can be released, why were they classified to begin with? (2) If the information cannot be released other than to salvage his hide, isn't he a self-serving traitor?

However, let me emphasize that considering Cheney's history of lies, I do not believe that the memos he wants released exist, at least in the form that he claims.

He may be right, but given his history, he is the wrong one to present the case. If he is right, he should concentrate his efforts in finding someone who may be believed. (Sadly, that excludes essentially everyone in Bush's national security group).

Posted by: AMviennaVA | May 13, 2009 9:34 AM
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