22 May 2009
The fragile state of constitutional government and deep crisis of American democracy has been laid bare by the extraordinary public confrontation between President Barack Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney on Thursday morning.
Speaking before a public audience at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., Obama accused the previous administration of violating the Constitution. Obama’s speech, devoted to a defense of his decision to close the Guantánamo prison camp, had been scheduled at the last moment. Its purpose, clearly, was to preempt Cheney’s attack, of which the president had been forewarned.
That attack came within minutes of the conclusion of the president’s remarks. Cheney, speaking before members of a right-wing intelligence think tank, delivered a provocative and bitter denunciation of the president. Dismissing with derision Obama’s criticisms of the Bush administration’s policy of “enhanced interrogation”—i.e., torture—the former vice president all but accused the president of aiding and abetting the enemies of the United States.