On MSNBC's "Live With Dan Abrams" Wednesday night we debated former President Jimmy Carter's newsmaking remarks about Vice President Dick Cheney to the BBC this week. Not surprisingly, Pat Buchanan thought it was unseemly for Carter to call Cheney a "disaster" and a "militant," while I thought Carter's statements were merely factual. Cheney has been the prime mover behind all the worst aspects of the Bush presidency, from military tribunals to torture to domestic spying, and especially the dishonest selling and awful mismanagement of the Iraq war. Now he's the chief advocate for war with Iran. Buchanan is actually closer to Carter's point of view on the questions of Iraq and Iran (not to mention Israel), but the conservative pundit, though he likes a good brawl, can get awfully prissy when it comes to the proper treatment of a current president by a past president. I said I'm glad to have Carter out there, telling the truth about Bush and Cheney.
There was a funny moment at the end of the segment, though, when Buchanan suggested that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was likely to fail in her efforts to block Cheney's get-tougher strategy toward Iran, North Korea and Syria. I noted that one thing Rice has going for her is the support of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, while Cheney lost his longtime ally (and Rice opponent) Donald Rumsfeld. Well, today comes the news that indeed, Cheney misses Rummy. In an interview that airs this weekend, he told Fox News he thought Bush made a mistake firing Rumsfeld after the 2006 elections. "Don was the right guy to continue to lead the Department of Defense," Cheney said. Noting that Rumsfeld hired him to work in the Office of Economic Opportunity back in the Nixon (and Buchanan) White House, Cheney added, "I wouldn't be where I am today if it hadn't been for what Don Rumsfeld was willing to do," Cheney said. Dick Cheney: One more Donald Rumsfeld disaster.