From The Washington Post -- The Fix -- February 16, 2010:
Dick Cheney vs. Joe Biden (and why it's good for Democrats)
The twin appearances by Vice President Biden and former vice president Dick Cheney on Sunday talk shows yesterday were highly anticipated by political junkies and, by and large, they delivered. Cheney, appearing on "This Week" with Jon Karl, took umbrage with President Obama's initial description of the attempted Christmas Day bombing as the work of an "isolated extremist," arguing that it is evidence of a "mindset" that suggests the current administration does not understand the state of play with regard to the central national security issue of the post-9/11 world. "What the administration was slow to do was to come to that recognition that we are at war, not dealing with criminal acts," Cheney told Karl. Biden, who appeared on "Meet the Press" and "Face the Nation," pulled no punches when talking about Cheney. "All I know is he's factually, substantively wrong on the major criticisms he is asserting," Biden said of Cheney. "Why he's insisting on that, he either is misinformed or he is misinforming. But the facts are that his assertions are not accurate." While today's coverage is sure to focus on the Cheney versus Biden dynamic, the underlying debate is a good one for the White House for two reasons. First, the most recent Washington Post/ABC poll showed President Obama's approval ratings on most domestic issues were mediocre but on the issue of terrorism his numbers were strong with 56 percent approving of his handling of the issue and 39 percent disapproving. Given that data, Republican strategists would much prefer a message focused on the economy and health care rather than terrorism. Second, as we've noted before, Cheney is a flawed messenger at best. In an Associated Press survey conducted in mid-January just 38 percent had a favorable impression of Cheney while 55 percent saw the former vice president in an unfavorable light. The more Cheney talks -- about almost anything -- the more people (especially independent voters) are reminded about what they didn't like about the last administration. And, that's very good for the Obama White House.