Monday :: Jun 25, 2007

Cheney Three


by Mary

Tonight's story has Jo Becker, not Barton Gellman as first author on the piece. Perhaps this is why there is a very different feel about what is being exposed about the very private Cheney. Here's Cheney, the masterful politician who can break logjams, come up with creative solutions to thorny problems, and just generally does a great job of complementing the decider-in-chief. This is the piece where the Cheney fans get to tout what a great VP he is.

And it's not only Cheney who's reputation is being buffed. Did you know that Abu Gonzales and his top staff threatened to resign over principle?

When the FBI seized files from the office of Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.) as part of a bribery investigation, House Republican leaders erupted. With a number of their own members under investigation for other matters, they charged that the search violated the Constitution. They demanded the return of the files.

Cheney quickly gravitated toward the House's position, aides said, but Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales; his top deputy, Paul J. McNulty; and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III threatened to resign if forced to hand over evidence they believed had been properly collected under a warrant.

White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten called a meeting on May 25, 2006, to resolve the political and legal crisis. The president's lawyers and congressional liaison were in the room, and so was Cheney. Once again, it was the vice president who came up with a solution, according to a participant. Cheney's plan met his goal of keeping the files from federal investigators. The files would be placed under seal for 45 days. Within hours of the meeting, Bush made Cheney's recommendation official.

I guess that makes up for the fact that Ashcroft and his top staff threatened to resign in an earlier crisis. So what was Cheney's role in that earlier crisis?

Then there was the time that Cheney solved a significant problem when the shuttle blew up and the President was so bogged down by the tragedy experienced by the families of the astronauts, that he wasn't able to contribute to thinking about the problem. So Cheney stepped in and solved it without having to go to Congress.

How about this little passage when they talked about how Cheney took on the overall budgetary reins so that Bush wouldn't have to worry his pretty little head over the begging from his cabinet ministers?

The vice president chairs a budget review board, a panel the Bush administration created to set spending priorities and serve as arbiter when Cabinet members appeal decisions by White House budget officials. The White House has portrayed the board as a device to keep Bush from wasting time on petty disagreements, but previous administrations have seldom seen Cabinet-level disputes in that light. Cheney's leadership of the panel gives him direct and indirect power over the federal budget -- and over those who must live within it. [Read then-OMB Director Joshua Bolten's memo about the review board.]

Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., who served as Bush's budget director from 2001 to 2003 and is now governor of Indiana, said that during his tenure the number of times a Cabinet official made a direct budget appeal to Bush "was zero," which aides from previous administrations found "stunning," he added.

Daniels said he chalked that track record up to "the respect people had for the vice president." Cabinet members, he said, recognized that if the board didn't agree with them, "then the president wasn't likely to, either."

Realizing that Rice and Powell didn't dare confront Cheney even when they were upset by his high-handedness, it seems that rather than touting the respect that Cheney garnered by those he was ruling, one wonders if isn't more likely fear because Cheney clearly was ready to take someone out if they crossed him.

And did you know that it was Cheney who forced Jefford's hand which caused him to change party and had the Republicans lose control of the Senate in 2001? It was because Cheney is a true blue "little government" conservative according to Phil Gramm and wasn't about to be blackmailed into giving extra money to special education. Of course, this piece doesn't discuss the fact that Cheney has no problem with funnelling billions and billions to a company he still has enormous stakes in.

And then there's this. I find it hard to believe that this paragraph wasn't written as satire:

R. Glenn Hubbard, Bush's former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said of Cheney: "I'd have conversations with him that were at a level of detail that those with the president were not."

Well, yeah. It is too hard to remember what Paul O'Neill's impressions were of Bush's interest in economic discussions?

"I went in with a long list of things to talk about and, I thought, to engage (him) on. ... I was surprised it turned out me talking and the president just listening. ... It was mostly a monologue," O'Neill was quoted as saying.

O'Neill was the guy who described the way Bush ran a cabinet meeting as "like a blind man in a room full of deaf people."

Of course, this piece left the best work of Cheney to last. He decided almost unilaterally how to best give his business cronies a monsterous tax cut and found a way to shaft his good pal, Alan Greenspan at the same time. Oh, well. It was all for a good cause.

You will be pleased to know that Cheney isn't the author of everything bad in the Bush administration. He lets Bush take credit for those hot-button issues, preferring to keep his power dry for the things he really cares about: war, tax cuts, massive spending for the right people, and gutting the environment. It's hard to imagine which issue that Cheney hasn't touched that hasn't become part of the reason Americans think this country is going to hell in a handbasket. Too bad we can't just draft Cheney and let him fight that war he deferred for so long.

Mary :: 10:31 PM :: Comments (4) :: Digg It!