Morning Report 11/9/05Rogue Elephant


A wounded Cheney becomes even more dangerous

Defense Dept.


You can’t make it up: This is the test image used by the Defense Department on its website photo pages. Count the feet.

People are finally starting to talk about that elephant in the living room, U.S. CEO Dick Cheney.

The danger is that the de facto president and his allies in Congress are threatening to stampede. They’re fighting the Plamegate probe by trying to divert us with a counterdemand for a leak investigation of their own into the Washington Post‘s blockbuster piece by Dana Priest on the CIA’s secret prisons in Europe.

For months, I’ve been routinely referring to Cheney as the de facto president, and I tried to scare everyone on Halloween with a warning of more tricks from him.

How many metaphors, similes, gimcracks, and gewgaws does it take to get people to get it?

Chisel the chiseler on Mount Rushmore.

Graph his graft.

Dunk him in an oil barrel.

Dip his chief aide Scooter Libby in Iraqis’ blood.

Light him up with a piece of yellowcake.

Carve the damned pumpkin already.

As for the narrowly elected and re-elected president — or was he really re-elected in the second place? — how many times do people have to point out that the ersatz POTUS George W. Bush is naked and helpless?

The problem is that you can never run out of metaphors when it comes to describing Cheney’s unprecedented power — call him the vise president. Turns out Cheney’s office was involved in the infamous torture directives, according to Colin Powell‘s former top aide Larry Wilkerson.

And scary power domestically — have you received your National Security Letter yet? Plus a scary reach for more power, based on the idea of an imperial presidency but wielded by someone who isn’t even the president.

All of which makes yesterday’s editorial in the New York Times calling on Bush to rein in Cheney even funnier today.

Who usually gives a damn what a newspaper’s unsigned editorials say? Sometimes, especially on local issues, they’re important, like the unheeded cries from the St. Petersburg Times in January 2005 to clean up FEMA, which was being trashed by toxic clown Mike Brown.

Unfortunately, really stupid editorial pages sometimes keep people from gleaning good info from the brilliant work of reporters and columnists elsewhere in a paper. Case in point: Wall Street Journal, a must-read every day.

I read this Times editorial only after media citizen Tim Karr pointed it out to me. Karr, a watchdog on Bush’s flackery and other matters, reads the Times‘s unsigned editorials so most of us don’t have to, but in this case, I had to. Karr bravely sacrificed himself — kind of like what Libby is doing for Cheney — and for that I honor him (Karr, not Libby).

The Times savaged Bush, poking fun at his ineptness in South America, but ruined it by saying:

Mr. Bush cannot fire Mr. Cheney, but he could do what other presidents have done to vice presidents: keep him too busy attending funerals and acting as the chairman of studies to do more harm. Mr. Bush would still have to turn his administration around, but it would at least send a signal to the nation and the world that he was in charge, and the next three years might not be as dreadful as they threaten to be right now.

That’s just foolish. Only technicalities — like our Constitution — prevent Cheney from formalizing his rule over the country. Cheney needs another spokesman — Bush simply isn’t working out for him anymore.

Karr’s piece is smart when it comes to untangling the Times‘s conflicted corporate mentality, which clearly influences its editorializing — and how it handles its own rogues, like Judy Miller.

And Slate‘s Daniel Benjamin goes right to the heart of the matter with a November 7 piece simply titled “President Cheney.”

Read it and weep. And get out your elephant gun.