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In September 2002, after almost two years out of office, former Vice President Al Gore publicly criticized the Bush administration’s rush to war with Iraq in a speech in San Francisco:

Al Gore – September 23, 2002


Al Gore

Former U.S. Vice President

…Moreover, President Bush is demanding in this high political season that Congress speedily affirm that he has the necessary authority to proceed immediately against Iraq and, for that matter, under the language of his resolution, against any other nation in the region, regardless of subsequent developments or emerging circumstances. Now, the timing of this sudden burst of urgency to immediately take up this new cause as America’s new top priority, displacing our former top priority, the war against Osama Bin Laden, was explained innocently by the White House chief of staff in his now well-known statement that “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August…”

After being out of office and power for a fraction of that time former Vice President Dick Cheney has been speaking out against the policies of the Obama administration:

Posted on Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cheney’s speech ignored some inconvenient truths

By Jonathan S. Landay and Warren P. Strobel | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON – Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s defense Thursday of the Bush administration’s policies for interrogating suspected terrorists contained omissions, exaggerations and misstatements.

In his address to the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative policy organization in Washington, Cheney said that the techniques the Bush administration approved, including waterboarding – simulated drowning that’s considered a form of torture – forced nakedness and sleep deprivation, were “legal” and produced information that “prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people…”

Evidently some of the media aren’t as worshipful as he’d like, but he does get access. Why would Dick do this?:

Dick Cheney: Why So Chatty All of a Sudden?

By Michael Duffy / WASHINGTON Wednesday, May. 13, 2009

…A more likely explanation is that Cheney, who championed the idea of preemptive-attack doctrine as Vice President, knows that in politics as well the best defense is often a good offense. With the White House decision to release various Bush-era memos on interrogation, and the coming disclosure of thousands more photographs from Abu Ghraib later this month, Cheney is “trying to rewrite history,” says a Republican consultant who has experience in intelligence matters. “He knows that as time goes by, he will look worse. And so he’s trying to put his stroke on it…

Well yeah, those photos haven’t been released yet. But they will be.

A good portion of the media coverage of Al Gore’s dissent in 2002 was less then deferential, including republican talking points in their coverage:

Gore challenges Bush Iraqi policy

Questions the timing of a military strike

From John Mercurio

CNN Washington Bureau

Tuesday, September 24, 2002 Posted: 3:38 PM EDT (1938 GMT)

…Republicans were quick to dismiss Gore’s remarks as overtly political.

“It seemed to be a speech more appropriate for a political hack than a presidential candidate by someone who clearly fails to recognize leadership. It was a contradiction within a contradiction,” said RNC spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt…

Updated 9/24/2002 3:56 AM

Gore blasts Bush on Iraq war

By Susan Page and Richard Benedetto, USA TODAY

…Asked to respond, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said, “The president has united America and America has rallied behind the call for action, and he will continue to lead and unify even if splits begin to emerge within the Democratic party and its presidential candidates.”

Republican National Committee spokesman Jim Dyke dismissed Gore’s speech as crafted “for a political hack.” He said Gore “may be serving a political purpose in appeasing a certain segment of the Democrat party that wants to use this type of rhetoric…”

In 2009 the White House has been a little more circumspect:


Office of the Press Secretary


For Immediate Release                   May 22, 2009





James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

12:23 P.M. EDT

…Q : About the great debate yesterday, how does the President feel about having Cheney speaking on the same day? In a way is he pleased to have these speeches in such sharp relief that it gave the public a chance to say, okay, here’s column A, here’s column B, and to compare it? And also, how does the President feel about the propriety of a Vice President who just only recently left office speaking out? President Bush said he was not going to for a while. Presidents usually keep pretty quiet that first year after leaving office. Are there different rules for Vice Presidents? What are your thoughts?

MR. GIBBS: The second one is a good question. I don’t know what the rules are. I mean, obviously, anybody is free to speak. I think many, as well as you, have noted that the President and the Vice President have taken different tacks since leaving office about what they’re going to do and what they’re going to say. As I said yesterday, watching Vice President Cheney appears as if he’s extending an argument that my sense was had inside these walls for many years during the administration which he served as Vice President.

I think the President — in terms of yesterday’s speeches side by side I think the President is not going to shy away from the debate on these issues. I think that was evident yesterday, and I think he always thinks it’s helpful for the American people to be able to see, as you said, side by side, what the competing debate and narratives are. I don’t think that’s anything he’s going to shy away from.

I think both would understand that these are complex issues, big decisions that have to be made, that the President is going to do all in his power to keep the American people safe. But he is strongly committed to the notion that we’re going to change the way we conduct our foreign policy.

Q:  And he sees nothing inappropriate in what the former Vice President —

MR. GIBBS: I mean, you know, I think the President would leave it up to the Vice President as to determine what he wants to do…

And our old media considers Dick Cheney a “star”:

Howard Fineman

Meet the Real RNC

Ignore the party, Rush, Newt and Cheney are the muscle

May 20, 2009 | Updated: 9:14  p.m. ET May 20, 2009

…Right now there are two RNCs here in Washington, side by side. The contrast is instructive.

One, the Republican National Committee, is a clueless self-parody. The other, the (R)ush-(N)ewt-(C)heney tag team, is providing the real muscle as the Republican right begins to build traction in taking on President Obama and the Democrats.

The official RNC just spent the last two days wasting time and inviting ridicule-listening to a listless, empty speech by its chairman, Michael Steele, and debating the grand idea of calling the Democrats “socialists.” Meanwhile,
Rush Limbaugh hammers away at the Democrats and the president on radio every day; Newt Gingrich sarcastically attacks Nancy Pelosi on The Daily Show (and gets laughs for doing so); and Dick Cheney continues his high-profile, Iraq-star media tour…

And our old media in 2002?:

From the WSJ Opinion Archives


Tuesday, September 24, 2002 4:04 P.M. EDT

…So who’s this impostor, claiming to be Gore, who delivered a speech yesterday at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, in which he delivered what the Associated Press calls “a sweeping indictment of President Bush’s threatened attack on Iraq, calling it a distraction from the war on terrorism that has ‘squandered’ international support for the United States.”

It appears Saddam Hussein has unleashed a new weapon of mass distraction on America, a Gore-like android so realistic it is every bit as lifeless as the real thing. Quoth Robo-Gore…

Reporting on the usual media suspects in Salon in 2002:

Give ’em hell, Al

With a series of fiery speeches, the former vice president recovers his voice, his backbone and his place as the 2004 Democratic front-runner.

[September 28, 2002]

…Not everybody likes the new Al Gore. A Republican National Committee spokesman called him a “hack,” and a sputtering Charles Krauthammer termed his Iraq speech a “disgrace,” while an even more unhinged Michael Kelly denounced it as “dishonest, cheap, low … It was wretched. It was vile. It was contemptible. But I understate.” (Adjust Kelly’s medication now!) On Friday, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer took the same contemptuous line, sneering that “Al Gore changes his stories and his tune so often on so many different issues that it’s not an effective use of time to pay much attention to what he says.” Meanwhile Sen. Joe Lieberman, displaying the same habit of folding under GOP pressure that he did in Florida in 2000, rushed to the president-select’s side: “I’m grateful President Bush wants to do this [invade Iraq], and I don’t question his motives,” Lieberman told reporters.

Lieberman is not the only old friend who turned on Gore. The New Republic also quickly piled on after his Iraq speech. The TNR turnaround is particularly stunning: The magazine fired Michael Kelly for his Gore-bashing in 1997, but now Gore’s old friends at the magazine are smacking him almost as hard as Kelly is. TNR dismissed the San Francisco speech as “a political broadside against a president who Gore no doubt feels occupies a post that he himself deserves. But bitterness is not a policy position. In past moments of foreign policy decision — first the Gulf War, then Bosnia — Al Gore has championed the moral and strategic necessity of American power and thus offered a model for his party. We wish we could say that at this moment of decision he was doing the same.” The unprecedented spectacle of TNR bashing Gore for his reservations about an Iraq war shows the extent to which protecting Israel — publisher Marty Peretz’s first love, even before Al Gore — is the driving force behind the get-Saddam fever. ..

And some not so usual suspects:

Hawking War Guilt

By Jim Sleeper

October 25, 2007

One of the most dispiriting causes of the biggest strategic blunder in American history may be the least understood: from the run-up to the Iraq War in 2002 until at least the 2006 elections, it wasn’t the Rush Limbaughs and Ann Coulters who stampeded the chattering classes and liberal audiences toward our still-unfolding disaster. It was the “best” thinkers, writing in the New York Times Book Review and The New Republic, who cued the orchestra of high-minded opinion to play a medley of half-truths and hosannas in support of the war…

The right keeps trying to rewrite history (it’s in their nature):

Barnes falsely claimed Gore “flipped on Iraq”

August 14, 2006 7:42 pm ET

On the August 12 edition of Fox News’ The Beltway Boys, co-host and Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes falsely claimed that former Vice President Al Gore has “flipped on Iraq.” In fact, as Media Matters for America has noted, Gore has consistently opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

…Barnes argued that with the defeat of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman in the August 8 Connecticut Democratic primary, the Democratic Party lost its “last living hawk on national security.” He further stated that while Gore “used to be a hawk,” he has since “flipped on Iraq.” In fact, in a September 2002 speech, Gore made clear his reasons for opposing the United States’ Iraq policy, explaining how his opposition to President Bush’s push for the invasion of Iraq was consistent with his support of the 1991 war against Iraq. He stated that, although “in 1991, I was one of a handful of Democrats in the United States Senate to vote in favor of the resolution endorsing the [first] Persian Gulf War,” and Saddam Hussein’s “Iraq does … pose a serious threat to the stability of the Persian Gulf region,” “I am deeply concerned that the course of action that we are presently embarking upon with respect to Iraq has the potential to seriously damage our ability to win the war against terrorism and to weaken our ability to lead the world in this new century…”

Say it ain’t so, Joe:

The Truth About the War in Iraq and Al Gore

Posted May 8, 2006 | 09:42 PM (EST)

…It is sometimes said that good ideas have many fathers but bad ideas are always orphans. And so it is with the retrospective of the decision to go to war in Iraq. As everyone from the White House and Secretary of Defense to members of Congress and the media engage in revisionist history concerning who said what and who knew what about the decision to invade Iraq, it is important to hold everyone’s feet to the fire. The integrity of our democracy requires it. The American people should demand it. Joe Scarborough, the self-styled straight-talking host of Scarborough Country, contributed to annuals of revisionism last Thursday (May 4, 2006) when he suggested that Al Gore was a Johnny-come-lately in his opposition to the War in Iraq. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The truth is that, on September 23, 2002, in a speech at the Commonwealth Club — long before the invasion of Iraq and before members of Congress voted to give President Bush authority to invade — Vice President Al Gore unequivocally and emphatically stated his opposition to a War in Iraq and set forth a multitude of reasons why…

Never let the facts get in the way of republican memes, talking points, and spin.

Former Vice President Al Gore on former Vice President Dick Cheney:

Al Gore to Dick Cheney: ‘I waited two years’

By ANDY BARR | 5/16/09 7:05 AM EDT 

Al Gore said Friday that fellow former Vice President Dick Cheney has jumped back into the political fray too soon into the new administration’s term.

“I waited two years after I left office to make statements that were critical,” Gore said during an interview on CNN, pointing out that his critiques were focused on “policy.”

“Talk about somebody that shouldn’t be talking about making the country less safe, invading a country that did not attack us and posed no serious threat to us at all,” Gore said of Cheney…

Now, which one of the two won by 543,895 votes in 2000?