R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find Out What It Means to Cheney.

At today’s White House presser, Robert Gibbs was asked to respond to Dick Cheney’s CNN interview in which he told John King that Pres. Obama was putting the country at risk of another terrorist attack by announcing his intention to close Guantanamo and to end former Pres. Bush’s pro-torture policy, as well as his regime’s policy of detaining suspected terrorists indefinitely with no legal protections or rights.

Gibbs’ reply:  “Well, I guess Rush Limbaugh was busy. So they trotted out their next-most popular member of the Republican cabal.”

And on Cheney’s comments on Obama’s handling of the economic crisis: “I think not taking economic advice from Dick Cheney would be maybe the best possible outcome of yesterday’s interview.”

Here is the unbelievable part. Later in the same press conference, another reporter — Chip Reid of CBS News — asked Gibbs if he thought he had treated Cheney with the proper respect:

Reid: Can I ask you, when you referred to the former Vice President, that was a really hard-hitting, kind of sarcastic response you had. This is a former Vice President of the United States. Is that the attitude — is that the sanctioned tone toward the former Vice President of the United States from this White House now?

Gibbs: Sometimes I ask forgiveness rather than for permission, Chip. But no, I hope my sarcasm didn’t mask the seriousness of the answer with which I addressed Ed — that for seven-plus years, the very perpetrators that the Vice President says he’s concerned about weren’t brought to justice.

Umm, can we talk?

… [L]et’s consider the full context here. Dick Cheney did an interview with CNN in which he went out of his way to repeatedly attack the new White House, saying they were putting the country at risk of a new terror attack. But the question here is whether it’s appropriate for the Obama Administration to fire back in response — that it’s Obama’s people who are accused of showing insufficient respect to the office?

Even more astonishing: Chip Reid was not the only member of the news media to give Gibbs a dressing down for his sharp response to the former vice-president’s gratuitous attack (the second one) on the chief executive of the new administration for deciding not to keep all of the previous administration’s favorite policies in place. The Note’s Rick Klein is shocked to the core of his sensitive soul:

“I guess Rush Limbaugh was busy.” wow — we’re talking about the former vice president here

Emphasis is from Yglesias, who snarks: “The way I look at it, the idea of respectful debate has no real meaning unless you actually deny respect to someone. Cheney seems like a good candidate.”

Jon Perr remembers the respect that Darth Vader gave to a sitting U.S. senator:

One day after Dick Cheney claimed President Obama is making the nation less safe, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs joked that CNN invited the former vice president only because “Rush Limbaugh was busy” and Cheney was “the next most popular member of the Republican cabal” available. But when CBS’ Chip Reid protested the “sarcastic” tone towards the ex-VP, he apparently forgot that as vice president Dick Cheney told a sitting United States Senator to “go f**k yourself” on the floor of the Senate. And completely absent from the discussion was the almost unprecedented spectacle of a former vice president attacking the successor administration within days of its assumption of power.

All links via Memeorandum.

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