US system 'designed for political combat,' former VP says
Arguing that the Jan. 8 shooting in Tucson was the act of a "lone, crazed gunman," former Vice President is deflecting blame from the "political class" for the massacre that took the lives of six people and seriously injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
In an interview with NBC's Jamie Gangel, set to air on the Today Show Tuesday, Cheney made it clear the blame should be laid with the alleged gunman, and not with politicians or media pundits.
"I think our politics can get pretty rough at times. Having been vice president for eight years, maybe I'm more sensitive to it than others," Cheney said. "I think we have to be cautious I guess about jumping to conclusions here about the extent to which the sort of the political environment contributed to or caused this event. I think the event was caused by a deranged individual. And that's where we ought to look in terms of trying to assess guilt."
Jared Lee Loughner, 22, was arrested at the scene of the shooting, sparking a fierce debate over whether the inflammatory rhetoric seen in US politics in recent years may have contributed to his decision to open fire on a politician he allegedly disliked. Some observers have argued Loughner is suffering from severe mental illness. Others have even blamed marijuana.
"I'm reluctant to judge our politicians based upon the act of what appears to be a lone, crazed gunman who perpetrated the crime," Cheney said.
Though Cheney appeared receptive to "toning down" political rhetoric as "always good advice," he warned against changing US politics as a result of the incident.
"I don't think we should anticipate that we can somehow take a system that was designed for political combat, if you will, between the parties, between ideas, between principles, and set that aside," he said. "I wouldn't want to do that. That's the heart and soul of our political system. And that's basically a good thing."
Cheney also reiterated his assertion that President Obama will be a one-term president, dismissing the president's recent bounce in the polls.
"I think his overall approach to expanding the size of government, expanding the deficit, and giving more and more authority and power to the government over the private sector is a lack of -- sort of a feel for the role of the private sector in creating jobs, in creating wealth and getting our economy back on track," Cheney said. "Those are all weaknesses, as I look at Barack Obama. And I think he’ll be a one term President."