The Obama Vice-President Committee 'Controversy': Has the Press Forgotten About Cheney?
The new fuss over Barry Obama's choice as chair of his veep-selection committee shows that the U.S. media have already dropped Dick Cheney into the memory hole.
Sure, many people want to forget the two terms of our de facto president, but even the best reporters are ignoring history.
How can anyone forget Cheney? He has run the presidency — into the ground. Using 9/11 as an excuse, he has encased us in Iraq the way various mastodons got trapped in the La Brea tar pits. He has hastened the dismantling of New Deal protections for the common folk.
Cheney achieved this by his appointment eight years ago as the chair of George W. Bush's veep-selection committee. Who did Cheney, the ultimate D.C. insider, pick? Himself.
Yet the banner headlines this morning, especially in the Washington Post, are that Obama's choice of James A. Johnson as chair of his veep-selection committee is controversial because of insider status and his lucrative consulting deals.
Wasn't Cheney the CEO of Halliburton before he was vice president? Didn't Vice President Cheney wind up making billions for Halliburton — which continued to pay him after he moved into the White House? (See my October 2005 post "Over a Barrel.")
This morning's Washington Post story "Obama's Choice of Insider Draws Fire: Republicans Assail Head of VP Vetting" doesn't even mention Cheney. One sentence would have been enough to at least jog people's memories and put this relative non-fuss over Johnson into context.
But normally excellent reporter Jonathan Weisman's story (co-authored with David S. Hilzenrath) blew it.
They had space to quote a GOP flack but they didn't even mention how Cheney came to rule the White House?
Of course, to even mention Cheney would have made today's A1 splash a relatively non-story, because Johnson is a piker compared with pre-veep Cheney, the classic insider.
The Post's first four paragraphs this morning:
Obama has proven that he's different. Bush has been eminently quotable as a malaprop waiting to happen. Obama is quotable in a far different way. For example, the Post notes:
Juicy, eloquent, witty quote. John McCain, a skilled schmoozer with reporters, is the same way.
No matter who wins the presidency, he'll be a good quote, though not in the way Bush has been.
In the meantime, though, don't forget Cheney. He was a terrible quote most of the time because access to him was severely limited to staged events and he was too clever to accidentally put his foot in his mouth.
In his unguarded moments, however, Cheney was eminently quotable. Cheney's "fuck yourself" to Pat Leahy is particularly memorable — the Post itself wrote an unexpurgated story about that episode in June 2004:
More important — and more obscured by the passage of time — is Cheney's 1998 speech to a bunch of Amarillo oilmen. As I noted in August 2004:
Almost exactly 10 years later, Cheney's attempt to grab the Caspian oil has failed miserably, and he has piled up 4,000 bodies in a futile grab for Iraq's oil.
The job of "worrying about it" has fallen to others.
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