In general, I support Vice President Cheney continuing to be an outspoken proponent for a political and policy viewpoint that is in opposition to that of the current administration. First, it makes clear that our democracy is one in which all citizens have a right to join in the conversation. Former political office holders become citizens when they leave office, and like everyone else, have the right to participate. These views deserve to be heard, and as the public considers its own position, there is no doubt where Mr Cheney stands.
Former President Carter has also made clear that he feels an obligation to to participate in the national conversation, even when his views are in opposition to the administration in power. Indeed the participation of former administration officials demonstrates how a healthy democracy can absorb dissent from outgoing political leaders, and continue to thrive.
The principle of allowing and encouraging all voices to be heard serves to provide the public as well as those in office, a broad choice of perspectives to consider in their decision making. I don't believe anyone will dispute Mr Cheney's right to make his views known. The question of whether his voice is helping or hurting the current administration, or hurting the cause of Republicans who are trying to reorient the party, is more a practical question, than one of principle.
In most circles it is considered "bad form" for an outgoing leader to be openly critical of decisions made by his or her successor, but clearly Mr. Cheney believes the stakes are too high for him to be overly concerned with "good form," and he chooses to exercise his right as a citizen. If indeed the issues are that important, one might argue that propriety should not be an over-riding consideration.
The real issue for me is whether in expressing his disagreement with the Obama administration, he also expresses respect for our democratic process, for the American people and the decision that they have made through the electoral and democratic process. Should he express or imply disdain for the decisions of the American people, and put "national security" concerns ahead of our democratic process, then I would be very concerned. As it stands, it does not disturb me to have his opinions explicit in the national conversation.
Posted by: dog12 | May 12, 2009 3:24 PM
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Posted by: kjohnson3 | May 12, 2009 2:48 PM
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