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Via ThinkProgress, I see that David Axelrod hit back today against Dick Cheney’s recent criticisms of Obama’s foreign policy.  George Bush, by contrast, has said that Obama “deserves our silence,” which prompted this from Axelrod: “He’s behaved like a statesman. And as I’ve said before, here and elsewhere, I just don’t think the memo got passed down to the vice president.”

I’ve been mulling this ever since Cheney started spouting off a few weeks ago, and I still haven’t really made up my mind about it.  Does an outgoing administration owe an incoming one silence?  I don’t think that’s always been the case (historians please correct me here if I’m wrong), and I wonder if it really should be.  Sure, it would be unseemly for ex-presidents and their staffs to engage in partisan feeding frenzies after they leave office, but is there really any reason why they should all take vows of silence?  If Cheney thinks torture and warrantless wiretapping are vital to the nation’s security, then maybe he should go ahead and say so.  Why not?

Obviously this isn’t the best time to bring this up, since after eight years of wrecking the country most of us really do think the Bushies ought to take a nice, long time out.  But just in general, and assuming it’s done in moderation, I’m not sure I see the harm in former administration mucky mucks continuing to express their (sincerely held!) opinions.  Let a thousand flowers bloom and all that.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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