Dick Cheney: Man of Letters

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As Ana noted here yesterday, the Vice President is a man whose own letter-writing style displays a distinctive elegance and tender wit. So it was interesting to hear last night on Larry King his assessment of another person’s correspondence that has drawn some attention of late–that of Pentagon policy chief Eric Edelman. Edelman, you will recall, is the Cheney ally who wrote a scathing letter to Hillary Clinton accusing her of reinforcing “enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies” after she inquired for information regarding any contingency plans the Pentagon is making for a troop withdrawal.

That letter was widely criticized as a politicized, unwarranted and heavy-handed response to a reasonable inquiry from a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (who also happens to be the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination). And it turned out to be a big political win for Clinton. Since then, Edelman’s boss, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, has acknowledged that such planning is underway, calling it “not only appropriate, but essential.” And yesterday, in his confirmation hearings to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen also talked of the need to plan for an eventual drawdown of troops, and promised to be heavily involved in that effort.

Given all that, might Cheney have any reservations about the tone and substance of Edelman’s letter questioning Clinton’s patriotism?

KING: Do you agree with that letter?

CHENEY: I agreed with the letter Eric Edelman wrote. I thought it was good letter.