With 42-year-old Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) making a splash in Des Moines, Iowa at Republican fundraiser, former Vice President Dick Cheney weighed in on ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos. Watching from the sidelines, Cheney saw Cruz and the Tea Party push the government to the brink of default over President Barack Obama’s March 21, 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. While Cruz bloodied the Republican brand, he believes he stood up to Obama, positioning himself as the Tea Party’s favorite for president in 2016. Ripping Obamacare has become the signature issue of a new generation of House representatives believing, as Cruz, they were sent by their narrow constituencies to stop Obamacare. Stumbling out of the gate, Obamacare hasn’t helped itself with serious flaws found in the program’s Web site, making it next to impossible to sign up.
When Democrats couldn’t get Medicare-for-all in 2010, thanks, in no small part to Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), the flawed alternative, private-sector insurance plan known today as Obamacare emerged. Dealing with the powerful insurance lobby hasn’t been easy, making it more difficult for the White House to achieve its goal of affordable health care. About all Obamacare can boast about is that the insurance industry can’t discriminate against individuals with pre-existing conditions, the buzzword for prior medical conditions that either prevent individuals from qualifying for coverage or the basis for making plans too expensive. It’s no accident that the National Assn. of Health Plans backs Obamacare because the industry has a chokehold on price-gouging, raising rates at will. Without any cooperation in Congress, the White House remains at the mercy of the insurance industry.
Known as a flamethrower, Cheney was uncharacteristically demure over the future of the Republican Party. He urged the GOP to pick a new generation of leaders as the Party gropes with the negative fallout from the government shutdown. If you listened to Cruz in Des Moines, you’d think that he scored big political points shutting down the government and threatening to default the U.S. Treasury. Cruz demonstrates that Orwellian skill of saying the opposite and getting folks to believe it. When Cheney admits that the GOP got whipped in the 2012 presidential election, he’s drawing attention subtly to current problems in the Republican Party, mainly the influence of the Tea Party. Cheney wants the Party to pick “first-class” leaders like his daughter Liz, who’s running in Wyoming against Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wy.) next year. Now that Liz’s running, Cheney’s rips the Washington establishment.
Despite his widely-publicized health problems, receiving a hearth transplant March 24, 2012, Cheney came out of the shadows recently calling Obama a “radical operator.” Cheney ignores completely the role he played in leaving the GOP in shambles after tanking the U.S. economy before leaving office in 2009. “It’s not the first time we have had to go down this road and it’s basically, I think, healthy for the party to be brought up short, say, OK now it’s time to go to work,” said Cheney. Ignoring any mention of Cruz or Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), both potential 2016 GOP presidential candidates, speaks volumes about the GOP’s direction. It was Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) who got the Party off track picking Tea Party favorite, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his VP running mate in 2008. McCain has never admitted the colossal blunder that quickly sank his campaign.
GOP strategists like to blame McCain, or more recently former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, for being too moderate. Romney learned nothing from McCain’s mistake, picking Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), also, like McCain, watching his presidential fortunes go south. Both Palin and Ryan represent the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party, far too conservative to win national office. Neither McCain nor Romney admitted their mammoth mistakes, instead touting their VP choices as the “future of the Republican Party.” When asked directly about future GOP presidential candidates, Cheney said he’s “not going to predict or endorse anybody. We’ve got a long way to go to the next presidential election,” hinting strongly he doesn’t like what he sees with Cruz and Paul. If there were any positive signs, Cheney wouldn’t hesitate to hazard his opinion.
Cheney’s refusal to name names or acknowledge any of the GOP’s new squeaky wheels indicates he doesn’t have too much regard for the Party’s new breed of right wing ideologues called the Tea Party. When Cheney speaks of the GOP’s next band “first-class” leaders, he’s referring to corporatists like himself, seeking to pillage-and-plunder foreign lands for good old Wall Street. Taking a shot at Obama’s foreign policy, Cheney said the U.S. was “significantly diminished,” not like the expanded clout and credibility when he prosecuted the Afghan and Iraq Wars. “I think our friends no longer count on us, no longer trust use and our adversaries don’t fear us,” said Cheney, obliquely referring to Syria, where Obama wisely opted to keep the U.S. out of another Mideast civil war. Reluctant to share his views on the new GOP, Cheney makes no apologies for his time in office.
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