Dick Cheney's Long Road to Tyranny
Billmon was the first to openly write about the Cheney administration, noting that some much of the ugly and no hold bars power grab was instigated by Dick Cheney in his desire to create an imperious executive. Today, Sidney Blumenthal lays out the case in a clear and undeniable fashion. Ever since Dick Cheney was part of the Nixon administration, he has been a principal driver of creating a presidency that has no checks on its power through every Republican administration that has governed in the past thirty-some years.
The hallmark of the Dick Cheney administration is its illegitimacy. Its essential method is bypassing established lines of authority; its goal is the concentration of unaccountable presidential power. When it matters, the regular operations of the CIA, Defense Department and State Department have been sidelined.
Richard Nixon is the model, but with modifications. In the Nixon administration, the president was the prime mover, present at the creation of his own options, attentive to detail, and conscious of their consequences. In the Cheney administration, the president is volatile but passive, firm but malleable, presiding but absent. Once his complicity has been arranged, a closely held "cabal" -- as Lawrence Wilkerson, once chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, calls it -- wields control.
Within the White House, the office of the vice president is the strategic center. The National Security Council has been demoted to enabler and implementer. Systems of off-line operations have been laid to evade professional analysis and a responsible chain of command. Those who attempt to fulfill their duties in the old ways have been humiliated when necessary, fired, retired early or shunted aside. In their place, acolytes and careerists indistinguishable from true believers in their eagerness have been elevated.
As Blumenthal reports, every Republican president before this Bush has failed Cheney and his cohorts in the goal of creating an American Caesar, yet each one's failure has been a lesson for how to "fix" the problems that kept him from his ultimate goal.
Dick Cheney sees in George W. Bush his last chance. Nixon self-destructed, Ford was fatally compromised by his moderation, Reagan was not what was hoped for, the elder Bush ended up a disappointment. In every case, the Republican presidents had been checked or gone soft. Finally, President Bush provided the instrument, Sept. 11 the opportunity. This time the failures of the past provided the guideposts for getting it right. The administration's heedlessness was simply the wisdom of Cheney's experience.
This is an important story. A story about how a party elder, brought in to provide maturity and seasoning to the feckless George W. Bush, is not just the power behind the throne, but is the main force backing the destruction of our Constitution by removing any semblance of a democratic, open and accountable government.
Hat tip to The Sideshow.