Dick Cheney just accused Obama of 'playing the race card' -- in a Playboy interview

Dick cheney playboyPlayboyThe April edition of Playboy.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney doesn’t mince words when it comes to President Barack Obama.

In a new interview for the April edition of Playboy, Cheney repeatedly tore into Obama on a whole range of issues, from the racially-charged riots in Ferguson, Missouri, to foreign policy.

“I look at Barack Obama and I see the worst president of my lifetime, without question,” Cheney told journalist James Rosen. “I used to have significant criticism of Jimmy Carter, but compared to Obama and the damage he’s doing — it’s a real tragedy.”

On the cover, the interview is billed as “A FIERY DISCUSSION WITH THE MOST POWERFUL VICE PRESIDENT IN HISTORY” next to a photo of 23-year-old rapper Azealia Banks. Cheney is well known for his unusually active role in shaping the administration of former President George W. Bush, Obama’s predecessor.

Business Insider collected some of Cheney’s other criticisms below.

The ‘Race Card’

Cheney said Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, who are both the first black officials in their respective offices, played “the race card” by suggesting their ethnicity has factored into some of the attacks against them:

“I think they’re playing the race card, in my view. Certainly we haven’t given up — nor should we give up — the right to criticise an administration and public officials. To say that we criticise, or that I criticise, Barack Obama or Eric Holder because of race, I think it’s obviously not true. My view of it is the criticism is merited because of performance — or lack of performance, because of incompetence. It hasn’t got anything to do with race.”

Ferguson

Cheney said he was surprised there was so much controversy over the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teen shot to death by police officer Darren Wilson in August of last year. Intense and sometimes violent protests erupted in November when Wilson was not indicted. Cheney panned Obama for not speaking out in the officer’s defence:

“Well, what I see is disturbing. It’s always a tragedy when there is a death involved and so forth. But it seems to me it’s a clear-cut case that the officer did what he had to do to defend himself. ….. And I’ve been disappointed, I guess, in the Obama administration’s response. …. I don’t think it is about race. I think it is about an individual who conducted himself in a manner that was almost guaranteed to provoke an officer trying to do his duty.”

The Bush Legacy

Cheney said he could go on “for hours” on all of the ways Obama undermined Bush’s accomplishments. Citing Obama’s alleged foreign policy mistakes, Cheney said the president “absolutely” rolled back Bush’s record, either intentionally or inadvertently:

“Where do you start? I think with respect to the situation in Iraq, his precipitous withdrawal and refusal to leave any stay-behind forces, to negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqis, was a huge mistake; we are paying a price for it now. He’s having to go back in now, and the guy who campaigned on the basis of bring the boys home and get out of Iraq is now redeploying forces to Iraq. I think his apology tour, when he went to Cairo in the summer of 2009 and said the U.S. overreacted to the events of 9/11, was a huge mistake. I don’t think he ever bought into the notion that we’re at war, in terms of a war on terrorism; I think he always wanted to treat it as a law-enforcement problem. I think he’s done enormous damage to the military. I think what’s happened to the military in terms of morale, in terms of financing, budget and so forth is just devastating. The way Obama is functioning now, he’s crippling the capacity of future presidents to deal with future crises.”

George bush dick cheneyBrendan Smialowski/Getty ImagesFormer President George W. Bush, right, and former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Syria

Cheney is clearly not a fan of the Obama administration’s decision not to attack Syria after that country’s government used chemical weapons against its own people in 2012. The president infamously said such a move would be a “red line” for him, and Cheney argued Obama should have held to that vow:

“That’s a classic example, where Obama got everybody ready to do something about Syria and then at the last minute pulled the plug. I had a prominent Mideast leader talk to me when I was there last spring. First time I’d ever heard him say this; he’s always been very self-confident and very much in command. He said, ‘You assume there is no political price to be paid for those of us over here who support the United States — wrong assumption.’ …. Our friends no longer trust us, and our adversaries no longer fear us. We’ve created a huge vacuum in that part of the world, and ISIS has moved in big-time. Now we have a caliphate in Syria and Iraq.

Energy

Cheney, a former CEO of the oil company Halliburton, accused Obama of aggressively pursuing a flawed energy policy agenda:

“We’ve had enormous success, a lot of it due to the private sector, in terms of becoming self-sufficient on energy. That is a huge development for the United States, affecting our situation globally. Yet Obama is doing everything he can to shut down the coal industry. We will not build the Keystone Pipeline. We ought to develop our capacity, support the European gas market for US exports. The Baltics should not have to get 100 per cent of their gas from Russia. You can put a real cramp in Vladimir Putin’s economy and activities, and his eagerness ot create problems for us in Europe, if we would take advantage of what we’ve got.”

Why Obama Is Different From Past Presidents

Fundamentally, Cheney said Obama has a different worldview than every other president in modern US history. Cheney asserted that Obama doesn’t believe the US “has to play a leadership role” globally:

“When I look at Barack Obama I see a guy who is not part of the consensus that has governed Republican and Democratic administrations alike since Harry Truman’s day. You can argue about Carter and how committed he was, but there’s been a basic fundamental belief since the end of World War II that United States leadership in the world produces a far more peaceful, less hostile world and greater prosperity. The US has to play a leadership role. And it’s going to take a lot to rebuild the damage that has been done over the past few years, because we’ve actively conveyed to the world the notion … that we no longer believe that.”

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