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NYT columnist wants to keep Cheney in the White House
Nick Juliano
Published: Monday November 19, 2007
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Obama-Cheney ’08?

If Thomas Friedman has his way, those bumper-stickers would be gracing the backs of automobiles across the country by next summer. The New York Times columnist argues that Vice President Dick Cheney’s war-mongering would make the perfect addition to Sen. Barack Obama’s policy team.

The Illinois Democrat has made his promise to negotiate with America’s enemies a central theme in his presidential campaign, but Friedman argues that Cheney’s hawkish approach to the world is the only way to put some weight behind Obama’s words.

“When it comes to how best to deal with Iran, each has half a policy — but if you actually put them together, they’d add up to an ideal U.S. strategy for Iran,” Friedman writes Sunday. “Dare I say, they complete each other.”

Friedman already has lost plenty of fans on the left due to his pro-war cheerleading before the US invasion of Iraq. Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald argues that the columnist hasn’t changed a bit since 2002.

“Back in 2002, Tom Friedman devoted virtually every column to paying homage to the glories of war and the need for America to start kicking ass in the world again,” Greenwald writes. “Why? Because -- expressing exactly the same thoughts he expressed this morning -- Friedman argued that in order for us to keep the Muslim world in line, they need to believe that America is run by deranged warmongers.”

Obama has repeatedly pledged to meet directly with the leaders of regimes hostile to US interests. His position is diametrically opposite that of the Bush administration but lacks the adequate threats to accomplish anything, Friedman writes. Meanwhile, the Bush administration is taking an all-swagger approach to the Middle East and not working hard enough to capitalize on Cheney’s threats.

"Vice President Cheney is the hawk-eating hawk, who regularly swoops down and declares that the U.S. will not permit Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. Trust me, the Iranians take his threats seriously,” Friedman writes. “But Mr. Cheney’s Dr. Strangelove imitation is totally wasted with President Bush and Secretary of State Condi Rice. Because the president and secretary of state have never been able to make up their minds as to what U.S. policy toward Iran should be — to bring about regime change or a change of behavior — it’s impossible to have any effective diplomacy.”

“If she were taking advantage of Mr. Cheney’s madness,” the columnist continues, “Secretary Rice would be going to Tehran and saying to the Iranians: “Look, I’m ready to cut a deal with you guys, but I have to tell you, back home, I’ve got Cheney on my back and he is truly craaaaazzzzy. You guys don’t know the half of it. He thinks waterboarding is what you do with your grandchildren at the pool on Sunday. I’m not sure how much longer I can restrain him. So maybe we should have a serious nuke talk, and, if it goes well, we’ll back off regime change.”

Although Friedman has expressed regret for his Iraq-invasion advocacy, Greenwald says Sunday’s column proves little has changed for the pundit.

“The drooling, bloodthirsty desire for war and vengeance which Friedman spewed forth in the months after 9/11 has been suppressed some as a result of the disaster in Iraq, but it is still lurking in him and the rest of our pundit class with all the vibrancy it had in 2002,” Greenwald writes. “And now that they are starting to convince themselves that they were Right After All about Iraq, they're starting to unveil it again, in completely unchanged form. They have learned absolutely nothing. They cannot, because they are convinced that they are the Guardians of Great Wisdom and cannot err. Even in Iraq, they did not err.”