Matt Yglesias grabs a key paragraph from Peter Baker's lengthy New York Times magazine piece, "Inside Obama's War On Terror", in which Baker finds a coven of unnamed conservatives staying mum on their support of Obama's counterterror policies out of fear and/or resentment.
A half-dozen former senior Bush officials involved in counterterrorism told me before the Christmas Day incident that for the most part, they were comfortable with Obama's policies, although they were reluctant to say so on the record. Some worried they would draw the ire of Cheney's circle if they did, while others calculated that calling attention to the similarities to Bush would only make it harder for Obama to stay the course. And they generally resent Obama's anti-Bush rhetoric and are unwilling to give him political cover by defending him.
Matt calls Baker's willingness to set aside some of the more unnecessary journalistic niceties and capture this group collectively in this way to be "a good break with convention that more reporters should engage in." He's right, and this sort of thing is welcomed. To take it a bit farther, though, one of the things that's most annoying about the most recent instance of Politico's Mike Allen taking dictation from former Vice President Dick Cheney is that Cheney is in no way attempting to influence counterterror policy or make the nation more secure. That can't be done by following his advice, which is to use the word "war" more often.
Rather, what Cheney is clearly trying to do is influence the politics, so any reporter worth his salt should be able to simply listen to Cheney and accurately report that the former vice president has been reduced to demagoguery. It's really just stupid to pretend that there's some great policy debate unfolding between the current White House and the previous White House. It's nice that Baker finds a way to acknowledge this.
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