Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Saturday disparaged President Obama’s flurry of recent national security picks, saying in a speech to the Wyoming GOP that Obama had selected subpar people to important federal positions.
“The performance now of Barack Obama as he staffs up the national security team for the second term is dismal,”Cheney said.
“Frankly, what he has appointed are second-rate people,” he added.
In doing so, Cheney said, Obama had undermined American foreign policy and put the nation at risk of attack. In particular, Cheney said, Obama’s nominations proved that he wanted to cripple the Defense Department by rolling back spending there. Obama’s defense secretary nominee, Republican Chuck Hagel, has in the past talked about the need to rein in defense spending.
On Hagel, Cheney said Obama, “wants to have a Republican that he can use to take the heat for what he plans to do to the Department of Defense.” Specifically, Cheney said, what Obama plans to do is cut spending so sharply that it diminishes America’s global military presence for years to come.
In addition to Hagel, Obama has nominated John Brennan to head the CIA. New Secretary of State John Kerry, another recent nominee, has already been confirmed by Congress.
All three of those nominees are career civil servants with long resumes in their respective fields. Kerry spent nearly three decades in the Senate, serving the last four as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Hagel, like Kerry, is a Vietnam vet and former Senator. And Brennan, a longtime CIA official, has held several high-ranking posts in the agency, even serving under Cheney’so old boss, President George W. Bush.
Cheney may seem to be an odd critic of presidential nominees, as President Bush faced strong criticism during his tenure for allegedly picking unqualified friends–most notably disgraced FEMA head Michael Brown–to hold government posts.