Dick Cheney can talk the talk. He gets it, he really does. It's just too bad he has to hide out in Lithuania when he speaks the truth. Americans today really need to hear what he has to say, and it is doubtful he'll repeat these words here at home.
Here's some of what he had to say, as he addressed the Eastern European and Baltic attendees:
"This progress [of freedom] would not have been possible without leadership -- from patriots with names like Sakharov, Mindszenty, Walesa, Havel -- who, in decades of striving, challenged dictators, spoke the truth without apology, and refused to compromise their liberty. "
Somehow, I am thinking that Cheney can't imagine mentioning American names like Ray McGovern, Richard Clark, Tony Zinni, Cindy Sheehan, West Point Graduates Against the Iraq War, etc, in a speech like this one.
There was more! Cheney also said:
"Regimes that repress and tyrannize their own people also threaten the peace and the stability of other lands. They feed rivalries and hatreds to obscure their own failings. They seek to impose their will by force, and they make our world more dangerous....Free peoples do not live in endless deprivation, tending old grievances, growing in their resentments, and posing threats to others. Free peoples do not dwell on every disagreement and conflict of the past; rather, they see the possibilities of the future, and turn their creative gifts to building a better tomorrow." We Americans need to hear these words--they ring true in America today.
Cheney then told the crowd at Vilnius:
"Democracy starts with citizens casting their votes, but that is only the beginning. Elections must be fair, and regular, and truly competitive. Men and women must be free to speak their minds -- and here a simple test is proposed by the former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky: "Can a person walk into the middle of the town square and express his or her views without fear of arrest, imprisonment, or physical harm? If he can, then that person is living in a free society. If not, it's a fear society." Americans familiar with any recent presidential elections in America, this administration's unconstitutional "free-speech zones," those who have been thrown out of public spaces for a political message written on a T-Shirt, or who have been physically or legally threatened or smeared for speaking his or her mind may find it hard to believe that Cheney said these words. Well, to be fair, he didn't say them to us -- he was talking to the folks in Lithuania. Or was that Lilliput?
I couldn't believe he said this!
"Protecting civil society and upholding individual freedom requires the rule of law -- and that is at the very heart of government's reason for being. Government meets this obligation by ensuring an independent judiciary, a professional legal establishment, and honest, competent law enforcement." I imagine that many good people in Congress, the judiciary and the Justice Department can't either.
And you won't believe he said this:
"Leaders must also persevere in fighting the two greatest enemies of economic progress -- bureaucratic roadblocks and official corruption. If the private sector is to thrive and to generate jobs, then entrepreneurs must be free to start companies, to hire workers, and do business without unreasonable interference or favoritism. And the only way for an economy to consistently attract commerce and investment is to root out corruption at every level, and to require openness, transparency, and accountability in the systems of business and government."
Yes, that was Mr. Dick "Halliburton" Cheney, at your service.
Cheney was in fine form, at last, when he lectured Russia. Without a hint of irony, he stated, "In many areas of civil society -- from religion and the news media, to advocacy groups and political parties -- the [Russian] government has unfairly and improperly restricted the rights of her people. Other actions by the Russian government have been counterproductive, and could begin to affect relations with other countries. No legitimate interest is served when oil and gas become tools of intimidation or blackmail, either by supply manipulation or attempts to monopolize transportation. And no one can justify actions that undermine the territorial integrity of a neighbor, or interfere with democratic movements."
He said it, folks. And not a reporter in the world will call him on any of it. This speech, full of sound and fury, as Shakespeare noted in another sad time for a government characterized by banality, greed and self-righteousness, was a tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing.
We should not settle for this speech only in Vilnius. Why doesn't Dick Cheney come to St. Louis, or Boston, or Atlanta, or New Orleans, or Los Angeles or Portland or Miami and give this speech? We know the answer. If he did so, while Cheney would still be a corrupt and forgettable Vice President, a speech like this one might mean something. It might even be revolutionary.