Challenges former VP to debate, says Democrats "need to grow a spine"

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) on Wednesday delivered a fervent and stinging rebuke to former Vice President Dick Cheney's recent attack on President Obama after the failed Christmas bombing.

"I am sick and tired of the former vice president of the United States taking shots not only at this administration, for problems he was largely and personally responsible for, but by an extension at those of us who served in the military and bring that experience," Massa said on MSNBC's The Ed Show.

"This man suffers from a horrible case of political Tourette's [syndrome], and it's about time that we stand up and kick right back because I'm sick and tired of him kicking us in our shins," Massa said.

Cheney's forceful critique of Obama quickly garnered significant media attention, and several journalists accused the story's author Mike Allen of failing to fact-check Cheney's seemingly curious claims.

"We need to grow a spine and stand up and show America exactly who did what," Massa said, pointing to Cheney's role in the events leading to the Christmas day attempt and the fact that the Bush administration took several days longer than Obama to address the 2001 shoe-bomber incident.

"It was Dick Cheney personally responsible for the release of the masterminds of the Christmas airline terror plot," he said, accusing the former vice president of shifting his culpability to Democrats.

"It makes no difference what we do, this man suffers from political diarrhea of the mouth, and unless we stand up and call it as it is he's going to keep on getting away with it," Massa said.

Host Ed Schultz called Cheney a "coward" and heatedly rebuffed the GOP meme that their party is more effective on national security, and said the Democratic Party cedes ground by failing to counter these claims.

"What do we have to do to get the Democrats to be aggressive on security?" Schultz said. "We got hit on [the GOP's] watch. They were told that bin Laden was going to do this and they sat on their fat ass on vacation and did nothing about it."

Massa agreed, saying that "this is not a political problem, it's a national security issue -- and for the Republicans to come out swinging and make this a political issue is the height of absolute arrogance and the depth of incompetence."

In a direct challenge to Cheney, Massa added: "I want Dick Cheney to come debate me, anywhere, anytime, anyhow -- and let's see how he stands up to the truth."

The New York Democrat also lashed out at Sen. Jim DeMint as "personally responsible for placing you, the traveling American public at risk" by "placing a hold on the nominee of the director of the Transportation Security Agency."

"People like Jim DeMint and people like Dick Cheney need to go away so we can solve the problems they've created," Massa said.

This video is from MSNBC's The Ed Show, broadcast Dec. 30, 2009.

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