Former Vice President Dick Cheney said that President Barack Obama was “playing the race card” to excuse criticism of his record as president.
“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 criticize an administration and public officials. To say that we criticize, or that I criticize, Barack Obama or Eric Holder because of race, I just think it’s obviously not true,” Cheney said in a wide-ranging interview with Playboy magazine released on Tuesday. “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.”
Cheney likewise thought that the protests in Ferguson and the Black Lives Matter movement that stemmed from it had been wrongly linked to race. “Well [pauses], 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. He was perfectly within his authorities to take action … And I’ve been disappointed, I guess, in the Obama administration’s response. I think there should have been more people who were ready to stand up and say, ‘Look, the evidence is pretty overwhelming. The grand jury has reviewed it thoroughly. Here’s what we know. This is what happened.’ And that we should not sort of throw it all over on the burden of race, or racial inequality or racial discrimination, as being responsible for this particular event,” Cheney said.
“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,” Cheney concluded.
Cheney went on to say that Obama had undone some of the legacies of President George W. Bush. “[H]is 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,” he said.
Cheney also called Obama “the worst president in his lifetime,” even when stacked up against other liberal presidents. “I look at Barack Obama and I see the worst president in my lifetime, without question—and that’s saying something. I used to have significant criticism of Jimmy Carter, but compared to Barack Obama and the damage he is doing to the nation—it’s a tragedy, a real tragedy, and we are going to pay a hell of a price just trying to dig out from under his presidency,” he said.
The conservative critique that the Obama administration is “playing the race card” is fairly common. After Obama gave a deeply personal speech about race after the death of African-American teen Trayvon Martin in Florida, conservatives were quick to say that Obama was the “first racist in chief” or that Obama was making the death of the unarmed teen “all about race.”