- The Washington Times - Friday, March 2, 2007

Vice President Dick Cheney yesterday fired up hundreds of conservatives at their annual conference in Washington, drawing cheers when he upbraided Democrats for not realizing an “inconvenient truth” — that Iraq is the central front in the global war on terrorism.

In a pointed potshot at his Democratic predecessor, Mr. Cheney took direct aim at former Vice President Al Gore, who starred in the film “An Inconvenient Truth” that won an Academy Award last week for best documentary.

“In these circumstances it’s worth reminding ourselves that, like it or not, the enemy we face in the war on terror has made Iraq the primary front in that war. To use a popular phrase, this is an inconvenient truth,” the vice president said to laughter and applause.

Addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference on its opening night at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Northwest, Mr. Cheney entered to a standing ovation, complete with yells of approval. His boss, however, did not fare as well.

“I always do appreciate the warm reception I receive at CPAC, and I bring personal greetings to all of you from our president, George W. Bush,” he said, but the applause was tepid, far short of that offered when John R. Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, took his seat at the head table before Mr. Cheney entered.

But the vice president, a favorite among staunch conservatives, kept hold of his audience, ripping Democrats for their anti-war stance and obstinance during the first two months in control of Congress.

“With a divided government and strong feelings on both sides of the aisle, getting things done is a bit more of a challenge than it was before. But the American people expect results, and the president and I are committed to working with Congress for the good of the country. What we will not do is abandon the conservative principles we ran on in 2000 and 2004,” he said to cheers.

Mr. Cheney served up red meat to the roomful of conservatives, pushing the president’s tax cuts and health care proposal. The vice president also chastised Democratic senators for moving to trim funding for the war and deliver a vote of no-confidence against Mr. Bush, as when the House passed a nonbinding resolution criticizing Mr. Bush’s troop “surge” proposal.

“The fact is that every statement we make has multiple audiences,” he said. “The enemy listens, and so do the Iraqi people. A watching world needs to know that the United States is determined to prevail because we’re a nation that keeps its word, and because we understand the consequences of failure,” he said to applause.

Mr. Cheney hit a score of hot-button conservative issues; drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve — “had they passed legislation when we asked, this nation would be well on its way to receiving up to 1 million barrels per day of new supplies” — and the foot-dragging by Democrats on the president’s judicial nominees.

“During President Clinton’s last two years in office, the Republican Senate confirmed dozens of district judges and 15 appellate judges. The current Democratic majority should proceed in that same spirit,” he said, citing Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., which brought robust applause.

But he closed with Iraq, making a case for continued support of the war, which a majority of Americans now oppose.

“Very soon both houses of Congress will have to vote on a piece of legislation that is binding — a bill to provide emergency funding for the troops. And I sincerely hope the discussion this time will be about winning in Iraq, not about posturing on Capitol Hill,” Mr. Cheney said.

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