Dick Cheney is my kind of guy. No, really. Okay, maybe not.
I’ve had my eye on Dick Cheney since 2000, when he and Bush “won” the general election, which makes me something of a latecomer to the sport. Cheney’s had his hand in the American Way since the bad old days of the Nixon administration, 1969, when he was but a lowly intern before Donald Rumsfeld snapped him up as a staffer for the Office of Economic Opportunity. Which is hilarious, because if there’s one thing Cheney has shown an aptitude for over the years, it’s economic opportunity – at least as it applies to himself and his smug, capitalism-hating buddies. Truth be told, I don’t like the guy. I think he’s a weasly, nasty bully who has immeasurable disdain for the regular American people and the political processes that have served this country so well for the last 225 or so years. But now I’m giving the man who once famously said that “deficits don’t matter,” the guy the CIA calls “Edgar” – that’s as in Bergen, and I’ll give you one guess as to who Charlie McCarthy is in this scenario – a second look. I’ll tell you why: When I was against him, the guy was a white knight, an enforcer who had the confidence of the voters (almost half of them, anyway) and a strong, determined vision of what America should be. And now that his approval ratings are in the teens, I’m thinking that he might actually be my kind of guy. I’m basing this on a policy of my own: When everybody else zigs, I zag. Last week the Washington Post ran an exceptional series on the vice president, and in it I found much to admire about the man. He blithely dismissed former VP Dan Quayle when he proffered travel tips he thought might be useful in Cheney’s new post. He faced the cataclysm of 9-11 with a steely resolve – quite a different reaction than that of our commander in chief – and turned crisis into opportunity. Once in office he circumvented all checks and balances on vice-presidential authority, a phrase which heretofore had been an oxymoron, to impose his will on a complacent and afraid American public. He milked those teats of fear and loathing – mostly in secrecy, mind you – to obliterate habeas corpus, wage unfounded war, create a virtual dictatorship and secure record profits not only for his pals over at Halliburton, but also for his cronies in the energy business. The guy surely knows how to pick his moment and, when it comes, to get things done. And he doesn’t take shit from anybody, including fellow politicians – he once famously told a Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to go fuck himself on the senate floor, a sentiment, I believe, everybody needs to hear from time to time. He effectively neutralized Colin Powell, a decorated veteran of the Korean War, when he rewrote the rules concerning treatment of enemies of the state, inducing Powell to say, “What the hell just happened?” after hearing about the order on CNN. The Post series was chock full of dirt on the man who sits just one defibrillated heartbeat from the presidency, and more dirt surfaces, it seems, each passing day. Cheney has declared himself exempt from the rules governing the executive branch of government – as president of the senate, he says, he is actually “attached to” of the legislative branch and is part of a “fourth branch” of our government, despite what the Constitution says – and therefore refuses to hand over classified documents to the National Archives and Records Administration. This, by the way, is in direct contrast to something he said in 2001: He cited executive privilege when pressed for details about his secret energy policy meeting. And when pressed by the president himself to comply with the request from the National Archives, Cheney’s staff attempted to disband the governmental body. One more: He recently had Secret Service agents destroy visitor logs to his private residence and offices, basically saying it’s nobody’s goddam business who he meets with and why. To say the least, it is a brilliant bit of political maneuvering. And smart money says he’ll keep on getting away with things like this because he’s got everybody in Washington scared to cross him lest they get shot in the face. Frankly, I’m scared of him, too. Cheney could have me wiped out by lunchtime and I’d never see it coming. And I’ve got to admit, I respect this kind of brutal, creative and unyielding use of power. I know I’ve been on board the “impeach Cheney” initiative, but I think it’s time to get real. This guy would sooner kill us all in our sleep than relinquish the reigns of power. And maybe… just maybe… he’s exactly the kind of guy we need to steer the ship of the American Way. Just so long as the American Way is devoid of privacy, free enterprise, government transparency, fiscal responsibility and humanitarianism.
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