Monday, January 4, 2010

Are They Cowards?

Matt Yglesias and Steve Benen are full of contempt today for Bushies who told the NYT's Peter Baker that they actually like Obama's antiterrorism policies, but won't say so publicly because (1) they're afraid of Dick Cheney, and (2) they are pissed at Obama for bashing Bush too much.

On the latter point, fair enough.  But on the former point...well, I can only say that it's pretty clearly a legitimate fear.  Anyone who wants to work in a future Republican administration is well advised to stay on the right side of Cheney and other Republican enforcers.  This may seem odd to liberals, who mostly see the Bush administration as a fiasco, but a future Republican president-elect is unlikely to care who liberals think should be invited to join his or her administration. 

I'd add one thing: it's true that at some point, Republicans who believe that Obama's policies are better for the nation than Cheney's policies should be willing to fight for those policies, and would be rightly criticized for cowardice if they don't.  However, what's at stake (for Republicans) at this point isn't a choice between policies; it's whether to follow a rejectionist strategy in public.  It may not be ethical Best Practices to attack the president regardless of whether you think that he's doing the right thing or not, but it's not cowardice. 

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