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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Criminal Mastermind or Dumber Than a Sack of Onions?

You may have enemies whom you hate, but not enemies whom you despise. You must be proud of your enemy: then the success of your enemy shall be your success too.
--Friedrich Nietzsche

I don't think Nietzsche was offering an instruction. It's more like an observation. People tend to build up what they oppose; maybe to render failure excusable or to make our success over our opponents something to be proud of.

Sometimes, those opponents are our own fears, projected onto something else. You see it all the time on nature programs -- dangerous creatures are given genius they don't actually have. "The shark," a narrator tells us, "Is a wily hunter. He bides his time until he sees the best time to strike."

But the shark is just a fish. On the intelligence scale, it's somewhere above moss. It's not a wily hunter, it's an extremely efficient machine that strikes anything shiny. Cut open a shark and you'll find license plates, deck chairs, and old beer cans in his gut. 'Smart' isn't something a shark's got.

I offer this as a way of explaining Dick Cheney. We tend to think of him as some sort of criminal mastermind. 'Darth Cheney.' He's like a Bond villain -- the man for whom the presidency is merely puppet theater. But the real Dick Cheney is the guy who shot Harry Whittington in the face, thought outing Valerie Plame was a great idea, and was convinced that everyone would buy the argument that the vice presidency was a fourth branch of government.

In short, he's not very smart. Cut open Dick Cheney and you'll find license plates, deck chairs, and old beer cans in his gut. 'Smart' isn't something Dick's got.

If you're still unconvinced, consider this; everyone (even his few remaining supporters, in their more honest moments) thinks President Bush is an idiot. If Dick Cheney is calling the shots in the White House and everyone thinks Bush isn't all that bright, then what does that say about Dick? The puppet makes the puppeteer's mistakes. It was Dick Cheney who argued that Reagan 'proved' that deficits don't matter, for example. How dumb do you have to be to believe that?

A four part series on Dick by Washington Post writers Barton Gellman and Jo Becker seems to back me up here. What we get is a portrait of Dick Cheney as a political athlete with more ambition than talent who winds up playing way, way out of his league. He has a twisted idea of what government should be and fails to see that this idea is contrary to the facts. His current troubles with claiming that the VP's office isn't an executive position demonstrates that. In fact, Cheney doesn't seem to think that history is linear, having contradicted his argument in the past by claiming executive privilege. He once said, "It's really a function of the last 50 years or so that the vice president's become an important part of the executive branch." You know, for a Blofeld-type genius, that's really a rookie mistake. They don't make criminal masterminds like they used to.

Of course, the White House is now backpedalling on the non-executive VP argument. Reports are that they have "no plans to reassert the argument there is any vice presidential distinction from the executive branch." It's a little late, though. There are moves to take Cheney at his word.

Raw Story:

While some would argue that Dick Cheney has sought unlimited power for his office in President George W. Bush's White House, the Vice President could soon be facing some major limits on his government bank account. A top House Democrat has announced his intention to offer an amendment to strip funding from the yearly budget for the Office of the Vice President.

"On the Hill, there's an overwhelmingly positive reaction," a spokesman for Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) told RAW STORY Monday afternoon.

And the wisdom of calling attention to the VP's office so soon after seemingly dodging a bullet with the Scooter Libby/Valerie Plame scandal is questionable, at best. The best thing would be to just lay low. The worst thing to do was exactly what Dick did -- posturing over territory like a mountain gorilla.

Like pretty much everything this administration has done, it's in trying to cover up the facts that got them into the most trouble. Their scandal-avoidance strategies absolutely suck. It was Scooter Libby's lying that got him put in prison, it's Alberto Gonzales' deception that got him in hot water, and it's Dick's BS campaigning that put the White House into its latest scandal.

After all of Dick's masterful and machiavellian behind-the-scenes engineering, the White House is getting a new round of subpoenas. Containment isn't something these guys are good at.


The Senate Judiciary Committee is going big-game hunting with a slew of subpoenas related to the Bush administration's controversial eavesdropping program. Chairman Patrick Leahy has signed subpoenas for Dick Cheney's office, the White House, the Justice Department and the National Security Council.

Predictably, the White House is resisting the subpoena and, if history is any guide at all, that's going to work out just great for them. Writes John Nichols for The Nation, "If Cheney's office and the other targeted agencies do not comply by the 18th, [Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick] Leahy can take the matter to the courts -- provoking a conflict like that seen [with] the Nixon administration when it refused to comply in the 1970s with Congressional investigators of the Watergate scandal."

It's hard to imagine Dick wringing his hands in his office and laughing, "The fools! Everything's going according to plan..."

In a piece titled Impeach Cheney, Bruce Fein writes in Slate, "In grasping and exercising presidential powers, Cheney has dulled political accountability and concocted theories for evading the law and Constitution that would have embarrassed King George III." I'd argue that Cheney's as on the ball as Mad King George, as well.

If we're supposed to be proud of our enemies, we're going to need better political opponents that Dick, George, and The Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight. Maybe some bears or sharks or mountain gorillas or something.


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This sums it up.
Dick Cheney takes over USAF base. Launches nuclear strike