Dick Cheney is not a nice guy---Part Two
For Part One, click here.
Back in 1998, when the Republicans decided they could get away with removing a popular President from office for no other reason than that he didn't belong to their party---
Don't give me that perjury crap!
The "lie" about Monica came about a result of the conspiracy to drive Clinton out of town. Claiming the "lie" justified impeachment is like saying, after you've cut the brake lines and drained the power steering fluid from your neighbor's car, "He wouldn't have crashed into that tree at the bottom of the hill if he hadn't had a beer before setting out, so that proves that he deserves to have his license revoked."
The Starr investigation was meant to result in impeachment from the start.
And back in 1998 a lot of Republicans must have thought, if not said, that once they got rid of Clinton they'd have an easy time of it in the 2000 election. The Democrats would have been the party of a disgraced President, Al Gore would have been tarnished by association, whatever benefits he might have derived from being the incumbent for two years worn away by the constant barrage of investigations the Republicans would have launched against him.
At the time there were some well-meaning supposedly friendly pundits and analysts who were arguing that Clinton should resign to give Gore the boost of being the incumbent. That was dumb advice on the face of it, but was probably even dumber because who knows how far the emboldened Republicans would have gone. It's not much of a stretch to believe that as soon as they'd finished off Clinton they'd have set about taking down Gore. Remember all those "inappropriate" phone calls and the China lobby? Jesse Helms clearly had Gore in his sights.
Realistically, though, by mid-1999 it had begun to look as though whoever the Republicans nominated for President in 2000 would be a sacrificial lamb. The best to be hoped for was that the candidate would put up enough of a fight to keep Congress in play.
Perhaps realistic Republicans expected that's the way it would play out, and that explains why they stood by and let George W. Bush take the nomination.
Why else would they have nominated such an obvious screw-up? Surely they did not want to stick the country with a President whose greatest accomplishment in life so far had been trading Sammy Sosa?
If they'd really expected to win, wouldn't they have gone out and found someone up to the job? Nevermind the country's needs. The Party couldn't afford to have a second failed Bush Presidency, could it?
Nobody in their right minds could have looked at George W. Bush and thought, This is Presidential timber!
But then people in their right minds were not the ones pushing George W. Bush to the fore.
I'm not calling Karl Rove and Dick Cheney crazy.
I'm calling them twisted.
They are both demonically cynical, criminally-minded men with not much regard for anything except their own continued power and success, and to them George W. Bush was the perfect man for the job because he was so completely wrong for it.
They didn't want a President.
They wanted a puppet.
In part one of this post I said that I think George W. Bush is not quite right. I think his wiring is faulty. I don't think he's crazy. I think he is borderline autistic. I think that not because of how he acts as President, but because of incidents from his youth and young adulthood that are completely in keeping with how he acts as President.
I also think that he has undiagnosed learning disorders, as well.
When he was growing up the idea of high-functioning autistics wasn't commonly believed. And it would have been hard for people like George and Barbara Bush to accept that there was something "wrong" with their eldest son. It's still hard for parents to accept, and many parents, and teachers, even now would rather attribute a child's strangeness to bad behavior, mainly because bad behavior can be corrected---and condemned.
But you don't have to agree with my armchair psychoanalysis to agree that for a very long time, for as long as anyone's been paying attention to him, George Bush has had a very idiosyncratic perception of reality.
It's not that he isn't all there. It's that he isn't all here.
Of course, in trying to evaluate George Bush's odd behavior you have to deal with the fact that so much of it has been bad behavior. For twenty years and more he was an out-of-control drunk.
It would have been natural to look at the man and think, With all his advantages, just think what he could do...if he'd just sober up!
Maybe that's what some people around him thought. I doubt it's what Dick Cheney or Karl Rove were thinking.
In the 1980s, when George Herbert Walker Bush was Vice-President and President, when Cheney and his gang would have first gotten to know Dubya, he was an angry, loudmouthed drunk, probably a recreational asbuser of his sinus cavities as well, and a middle-aged failure with nothing on his resume but an oil venture that went bust, a Congressional campaign that went nowhere, and a stint in the National Guard that, whatever happened between his time in a cockpit in Texas and his time at a desk in Alabama, clearly did not go as it was supposed to have gone or Lieutenant Bush would have wound up the fighter pilot President Bush seems to believe he actually was.
He was not a chip off the old block. He was certainly not the second coming of Ronald Reagan, who, by the way, was a hardworking and successful man---the seeming laziness he exhibited as President was probably a sign that his age was catching up with him and, possibly, that Alzheimer's had begun to take hold of him---and he was temperamentally cheerful, self-disciplined, and self-controlled.
If you were looking around the Reagan and then the Bush White Houses for the future of the Republican Party, the Bush son who should have caught your eye was Jeb.
I wouldn't have wanted Jeb Bush to be President instead of Al Gore. I'm glad he's not governor of my state. You can fault the man on his politics and be dismayed by his principles, such as they are. But Jeb is still possessed of all that his brother the President lacks. He's smart, he's hardworking, he's competent.
He is the son most like the father.
Which is, I suspect, what Dick Cheney disliked about him.
Because George Herbert Walker Bush had a fatal flaw, from Dick Cheney's point of view. The first President Bush did not take Dick Cheney's advice above all others'.
If Jeb was like the old man, President Jeb Bush wouldn't be any more in thrall to Dick Cheney's wisdom than his father had been.
Back to George the son.
From Dick Cheney's point of view, George the son had a couple of important virtues that his father and brother lacked---a willingness to let other men do his work for him and a habit of not asking difficult questions.
He was also easily manipulated by flattery.
I'm going to do something that goes against my better nature. I'm going to give Karl Rove the benefit of a doubt.
Rove was attracted to George Bush because---well, Rove was attracted to George Bush. He had a serious man-crush. But beyond that I think Rove is committed to a permanent Republican majority and I suspect that when he looked at the Bush brothers he decided George was the better bet than Jeb because he saw that George wasn't the kind of guy who'd balk at doing the things Rove thinks Republicans have to do to win, like lie, cheat, and steal.
I think he overerestimated Jeb---or underestimated him. Depends on if he saw Jeb as a man with too many scruples or not few enough.
Whether or not Rove knew that the reason George wouldn't balk is that George doesn't care and he doesn't care because he's too wrapped up in himself, making himself the perfect tool, we'll have to wait for Rove's prison memoirs to tell us. I think, though, it's possible that Rove isn't consciously aware that George is his puppet and not his manly man leader.
But I'm sure Cheney knows.
He's always known.
And although I'm not sure at what point Cheney decided that if he could never be President himself he could at least have all the power of a President by making George W. Bush his front man and puppet, he did decide to do just that.
Let me make this perfectly clear, to invoke the ghost of the man who hovers in the backgound and haunts the Bush White House.
Dick Cheney found a way to make himself President of the United States without having to ask the American people to vote for him.
In what is supposed to be the world's greatest democracy, Dick Cheney had himself appointed dictator.
That comes close to treason, if not by the legal definition, then by the definition that gets sinners condemned to the Ninth Circle of Hell. It was a betrayal. Dick Cheney betrayed the principles on which this country was founded in order to make himself the most powerful guy on earth.
Dick Cheney told George Bush to pick Dick Cheney to be his running mate, knowing that the running mate and then the VP would be in a perfect position to be always telling Bush what to do.
Cheney's self-appointment was treated by Republican spinmeisters and many people who think of themselves as serious journalists as a sign of Bush's fitness for office.
Look, the story went, Bush knows his own limitations and understands the problems arising from his own inexperience, so he's surrounding himself with mature, older statesmen to advise him, and not only is this smart, it shows that he is both modest and confident---he's not afraid to have these graybeards around telling him what to do, as if Bush was a 20 year old undergraduate unexpectedly called home from college to take over the family business and not an ambitious 54 year old who had set out at nobody's invitation to make himself President of the United States.
Grown men deep into middle-age don't get to be callow.
At the time two things should have been glaringly obvious.
The first was that it was not a good sign that a potential leader of the free world had allowed himself to be told who he wanted for his Vice-President and a worse one that the guy telling him and the guy he was being told he wanted were the same person.
The second was that Dick Cheney's going out to comb the country in search of the perfect candidate and coming back with the news that, Hey, what do you know, it's me! was a proof of such vanity, arrogance, and bald lust for power that it should have disqualified him for the job instantly.
Cheney made himself de facto President. And he did it with apparently no greater goal in mind than giving away the store to his pals.
He may have done it in order to be able to start the war in Iraq, too, but as the point of that appears to have been grabbing the oil fields and securing for Haliburton a lot of no bid contracts, the war is just like his energy plan---a scheme to make his pals more money.
And since he's been in office he's been happy to use his power to make the United States a rogue and outlaw nation and a disgrace to the West. That's unexpected perk of the job though. I doubt he thought he'd get to have that much fun when he signed on.
Couple weeks back I wrote that Dick Cheney is the most odious excuse for a human being to ever hold the office of Vice-President. Worse than Aaron Burr, who was actively in the treason business.
But Spiro Agnew was just a common variety corrupt political hack, a small-timer with an ugly way of expressing his ugly thoughts but who was pretty much content with his dirty deals on the side and willing to let the people the Constitution says should be running the country run the country.
And John C. Calhoun was a principled man who unfortunately held two opposing principles. He was committed to preserving the Union and he was adamant in advocating the right of states to allow slavery.
Richard Nixon is a special case. If he had disappeared into obscurity after losing the California governor's race in 1962 he would be remembered as a demogogue and dirty campaigner but in the grand scheme of things not a major player in history. It took the powers of the Presidency and the temptations that come with such power to bring out the very worst in him. And when all was said and done, it does appear that Nixon had the best interests of the nation in mind, that he respected most of its laws and principles, that he got into trouble when he decided the best interests of the nation included keeping himself President at all costs, which in no way makes him a good guy who just made mistakes. It just suggests that he had a conscience and a sense that there were boundries that even he dare not cross.
We'll never know for sure if it was just vanity or hubris that kept him from shutting down Congress before giving up those tapes, if he thought he could outlast or outfox his enemies in the end, or if when push came to shove he couldn't bring himself to scrap the Constitution just to save himself.
I don't like to think about what Cheney would do if he was ever cornered like that.
Cheney didn't just start the war in Iraq for fun and profit, he started it ahead of schedule in order to distract the Media from the Enron mess and his energy "policy" and from the unfolding story of his own corrupt reign at Haliburton.
But we don't need to play a game of what-if to make the case against him.
I can't say if when he first took a look a George W. Bush he saw a hopeless drunk, a borderline autistic or someone with Asperger's, a heartless and feckless narcissist, a kindred spirit, another sociopath like himself, or a plain, ordinary fool.
But I know he saw someone patently unqualified and unfit for the office of President of the United States, and he said to himself:
I can use this!