Morning Report 11/23/05Cheney’s High Dive into Shallow Waters


After creep veep’s belly flop in the press pool, he’s all wet. So is the press.

Harkavy; White House

Dick Cheney is so smug that he thinks he can set the agenda for America’s news media. Unfortunately, he’s right.

His speech yesterday reflected the current schizoid state of the Bush regime. Under severe pressure, one day it lashes out at critics, the next day it’s conciliatory, the day after that it lashes out again. Now that Wampumgate’s Mike Scanlon has pled guilty, this a two-front war for the regime, so the pressure will only get more intense.

But not as intense as it is for average Americans. Or for the 37 million Americans who were poor in 2004.

By the way, the Wampumgate scandal promises to envelop congressmen and White House aides and expose influence-peddling as it’s never been exposed before in the nation’s long history of influence-peddling. But that didn’t stop either the New York Times or Los Angeles Times from putting Scanlon’s guilty plea — which will surely unravel the threads of this scandal — inside, while Cheney’s repetitious speech took up front-page space. (The Washington Post, which has been the leader in covering Wampumgate for the past five years, put Scanlon’s plea on the front page, of course.)

What the hell is the Fourth Estate doing with its valuable real estate?

For his predictable speech, Cheney fled into the arms of the friendly, not-poor folks at the American Enterprise Institute.” The vise president didn’t get the coverage he deserved. He got more, and he got less.

Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times gave her usual blinders-on appraisal of the fabric of the emperor’s new clothes. (Cheney is the real emperor, not Bush.) She acknowledged that Cheney picked a slow news day, terming it a strategy but hilariously going along with him anyway. What wasn’t funny was that she didn’t note in her first paragraph that all he did was repeat himself in a very strange way.

To repeat: Cheney simply repeated what he said five days earlier. (For an assessment of that November 16 speech, see “Lies My Fodder Told Me.”)

A particular passage of Cheney’s November 21 speech will fascinate future historians when they try to do a psychological profile of Cheney under pressure. Cheney has vowed to throw his critics’ words back at them. I hope he’s prepared for the boomerang effect.

This is how Cheney started that key segment of the November 21 speech:

Several days ago, I commented briefly on some recent statements that have been made by some members of Congress about Iraq. Within hours of my speech, a report went out on the wires under the headline, “Cheney says war critics ‘dishonest,’ ‘reprehensible.'”

Yes, that’s true, that’s what the papers said. Then he said:

One thing I’ve learned in the last five years is that when you’re Vice President, you’re lucky if your speeches get any attention at all.

Well, maybe that’s because he doesn’t give many speeches to the public, unless he can absolutely control the makeup of the audience by carefully screening them. Besides, the doofus POTUS gives the speeches, while Cheney and Don Rumsfeld run things. Anyway, Cheney continued:

But I do have a quarrel with that headline, and it’s important to make this point at the outset. I do not believe it is wrong to criticize the war on terror or any aspect thereof. Disagreement, argument, and debate are the essence of democracy, and none of us should want it any other way.

Yeah, whatever. The headline was accurate. Let me remind you what he said in that November 16 speech. From the White House transcript:

[T]he suggestion that’s been made by some U.S. senators that the President of the United States or any member of this administration purposely misled the American people on pre-war intelligence is one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city.

As I said, the headline was accurate. Back to the November 21 speech: So then, Cheney went into his “public service” routine:

For my part, I’ve spent a career in public service, run for office eight times — six statewide offices and twice nationally. I served in the House of Representatives for better than a decade, most of that time as a member of the leadership of the minority party. To me, energetic debate on issues facing our country is more than just a sign of a healthy political system — it’s also something I enjoy. It’s one of the reasons I’ve stayed in this business. And I believe the feeling is probably the same for most of us in public life.

I guess that’s why, after some “energetic debate” with Vermont Democratic senator Pat Leahy on June 22, 2004, Cheney told him, “Fuck yourself.”

Again, back to the November 21 speech: After some more babble, Cheney said:

What is not legitimate — and what I will again say is dishonest and reprehensible — is the suggestion by some U. S. senators that the President of the United States or any member of his administration purposely misled the American people on pre-war intelligence.

I thought he said he had a problem with the headline after his November 16 speech, the headline that he said read:

Cheney says war critics ‘dishonest,’ ‘reprehensible.’

So let me suggest a headline that accurately portrays his November 21 speech:

Cheney says war critics ‘dishonest,’ ‘reprehensible.’

Is that better?