Immediately following a speech by former Vice President Dick Cheney on Thursday, MSNBC assembled its usual panel of left-wing pundits to tear him down, including political analyst Lawrence O'Donnell, who proclaimed: "Well, he came today to - obviously to do nothing much other than defend torture, which he calls 'tough questioning.' This was as sleazy a presentation by a Vice President as we've had since Spiro Agnew. This was an absolute abomination."
Chris Matthews anchored the coverage and had just asked O'Donnell: "Lawrence, can he get away with this? Giving a speech that's - well, it was 16 pages long - and never mention the main foreign policy initiative of the administration just passed, which is the war in Iraq." After O'Donnell denounced Cheney's sleaziness, he went on this diatribe:
He [Cheney] cannot, ever, frame the other side's position honestly. What you saw with Obama earlier was Obama describes the other side's position fairly. He then goes on to advance his position. Cheney comes out and lies about the other side, it's only way he can talk. He says that Obama will not use the word 'terrorist,' when Obama does indeed use that word. He pretends that all we did was tough questioning. He says that 9/11 - he says that 9/11 made everyone take a second look at the threat. That is a lie. Dick Cheney and the President were in possession of memos that said this threat was present, this particular methodology was going to come, that they were going to use airliners. He and the President failed in their first nine months in office to pay any attention to the A.Q. Khan network, who he now wants to take credit for dismantling. What did Cheney do before 9/11? He denies, in this speech, that 9/11 changed him and then describes his very specific activities on 9/11, which were frightening for the Vice President. Then he goes on to say that he thinks about it every day. This guy just has to lie from beginning to end through his setup of his opposition's position in order to advance any of his ideas at all, none of which have any proof to them at all.
Matthews later turned to another hard left voice, former CIA agent Jack Rice, who attempted to match O'Donnell's vitriol: "He [Cheney] beat the CIA like a pinata for year after year until all of a sudden he's going to be their champion. Look, this is a guy that I'm watching today who wraps himself in the flag with the Constitution in tatters at his feet...We look at where we're going and what it means, he apparently doesn't care as long as he looks good doing it."
Moments later, correspondent Andrea Mitchell chimed in, claiming that Cheney: "...sets up what I think is a false choice when he says that you can only draw two conclusions. That either the vigilance and the strategy that they employed worked because America was never attacked since 9/11, or that 9/11 was a one-time event and won't happen again and that you don't have to use those techniques. There is - there are other choices...you don't have to use those techniques, the techniques of the Bush/Cheney administration, in order to keep America safe."
Matthews next referenced Cheney's criticism of the closing of Guantanamo Bay and the possibility of American taxpayer dollars being used to support terrorists in American prisons. Pat Buchanan, the only voice from the right, argued: "They get lawyers paid - yeah, if they're in the United States, they'll get lawyers paid for by the American people, they'll get various privilege in defenses and stuff like that paid for by the country." O'Donnell lashed out again: "Now Chris, you've pointed out another very clear Dick Cheney lie. It is just a lie. Who is paying for the daily existence of the terrorists in Gitmo now? Who is paying for that? The American taxpayer. This is the kind of sleazy arguing that this guy does in these speeches. It is just ridiculous. It is an insult to the intelligence of anyone who's listening to him."
Mitchell made one final point: "There was one clever thing, also, that he did do, was to challenge the President to declassify those memos, which he claims prove that he's correct, that the techniques worked and kept us safer." O'Donnell angrily ranted: "But after objecting to the release of top-secret information. The Vice President objects to the release of top-secret information. In the next sentence, he advocates it." Buchanan summed up the cause of O'Donnell's rage: "Lawrence's reaction tells you that Cheney's speech worked."