President in All But Name
George W Bush likes to think of himself as President, but he truly is only the figurehead. As it is becoming increasingly clear, Dick Cheney is operating as President in all but name.
This was largely understood by bloggers years ago as we noticed that during crises, Cheney was the one whisked away to top secret locations that were to be the root of the continuing government, while Bush was left to hang out without anyone asking him to lead. The rest of the MSM is beginning to catch on to the state of our so-called representative Democracy as they awaken to the fact that Cheney has deemed himself above all laws that ordinary people must follow and he has done this by working his dark magic to convince the president in name to issue edicts that subvert our Constitution and our government.
Today, the Washington Post started a four part series that examines the role of this Vice President and how he has taken upon himself all the roles and decisions that normally are held by the President. Here are some of the more telling quotes from today's remarkable piece.
Cheney preferred, and Bush approved, a mandate that gave him access to "every table and every meeting," making his voice heard in "whatever area the vice president feels he wants to be active in," Bolten said.
...Mary Matalin, who was counselor to the vice president until 2003 and remains an informal adviser, described Cheney's portfolio as "the iron issues" -- a list that, as she defined it, comprises most of the core concerns of every recent president. Cheney took on "the economic issues, the security issues . . . the energy issues" -- and the White House legislative agenda, Matalin said, because he became "the go-to guy on the Hill." Other close aides noted, as well, a major role for Cheney in nominations and appointments.
...He receives a private intelligence briefing between 6:30 and 7 a.m., often identifying issues to be called to Bush's attention, and then sits in on the president's daily briefing an hour later. Aides said that Cheney insists on joining Bush by secure video link, no matter how many time zones divide them.
...In the usual business of interagency consultation, proposals and information flow into the vice president's office from around the government, but high-ranking White House officials said in interviews that almost nothing flows out. Close aides to Cheney describe a similar one-way valve inside the office, with information flowing up to the vice president but little or no reaction flowing down.
And almost assuredly, nothing flows out to Bush except what Cheney wants to flow to him. Bush, being incurious and a vain man, doesn't realize he is being played because Cheney knows how to shape what he hears and to get from Bush whatever Cheney wants.
Using secrecy and deceit, Cheney has created a monster of unaccountable and illegitimate power. What is even more telling is that after 9/11, Cheney betrayed his own advice about how not to make policy.
Cheney told Baker, according to the notes, that an "orderly paper flow is way you protect the Pres.," ensuring that any proposal has been tested against other views. Cheney added: "It's not in anyone's interest to get an 'oh by the way decision' -- & all have to understand that. Can hurt the Pres. Bring it up at a Cab. mtg. Make sure everyone understands this."
In 1999, not long before he became Bush's running mate, Cheney warned again about "'oh, by the way' decisions" at a conference of White House historians. According to a transcript, he added: "The process of moving paper in and out of the Oval Office, who gets involved in the meetings, who does the president listen to, who gets a chance to talk to him before he makes a decision, is absolutely critical. It has to be managed in such a way that it has integrity."
Two years later, at his Nov. 13 lunch with Bush, Cheney brought the president the ultimate "oh, by the way" choice -- a far-reaching military order that most of Bush's top advisers had not seen.
But that was before the power was in his hands.
According to this account, so many of the callous and frankly immoral actions and statements of this administration can be traced to the Office of the Vice President. It was not Gonzales who termed the Geneva Conventions "quaint" but Cheney's own capo, David Addington. And it was done in such a way (as were so many other decisions made within the White House) so that the fingerprints of Cheney and his capos were rubbed out.
Addington, under Gonzales's name, appealed to the president by quoting Bush's own declaration that "the war against terrorism is a new kind of war." Addington described the Geneva Conventions as "quaint," casting Powell as a defender of "obsolete" rules devised for another time. If Bush followed Powell's lead, Addington suggested, U.S. forces would be obliged to provide athletic gear and commissary privileges to captured terrorists.
One of the reasons that everyone gives for why impeachment is off the table is look who comes next. It is clear that in order to stop the damage this administration is doing to our country and our world, Cheney must be impeached first. That won't make Bush a better president, but at least it would slow him down.
Cheney unleashed is a very dangerous man. In fact, he is the epitome of the psycopathic personality that Kurt Vonnegut wrote about here.
When Cheney has gone back into that black hole he climbed out of, this country will need a long and through inquiry into the pathologies of our country and how the Republican Party became so corrupted to allow someone like Cheney through his puppet, Bush, to be given the power to subvert our Constitution in such a manner.