Tags: What's | Wrong | With | Dick | Cheney?

What's Wrong With Dick Cheney?

Friday, 10 September 2004 12:00 AM

Oh, I know about the four heart attacks, the two drunk driving convictions (could this really be the first all-alcoholic ticket?), his conflict of interest over Halliburton, swearing at a senator on the floor of the Senate, the secret energy meetings, the trips to the CIA to get the intelligence he wanted and the like. It's hard to remember that four years ago, Cheney was the one who was considered the heavyweight on this ticket.

But in just the last two weeks, the vice president has twice given me reason to wonder what he could possibly be thinking - and more importantly, what we should think about him.

The first time was at the convention, when I literally couldn't believe my ears.

Did he just say 1,100? I asked a friend, as I listened to his acceptance speech. Remember? He did: He saluted more than 1,100 brave Americans whose memories this nation will honor forever.

1,100.

When did we hit 1,000? Could I have missed it? Could the country? Is he adding past wars? Have 100 people died that someone isn't telling us about? Why would the vice president, of all people, want to make the body count higher? As any American who can read knows, we passed the horrible milestone of 1,000 American servicemen and women killed in the Iraq war this week, on Tuesday to be precise.

Then there was his comment this week that the country would face another terrorist attack if it elected John Kerry and John Edwards, a comment that goes far beyond the traditional role of vice presidential attack dog and raises serious questions of whether this particular vice president is, quite simply, losing it.

There was certainly nothing helpful, politically speaking, about the warning. It gave the Kerry-Edwards ticket an opportunity to attack Cheney as unpatriotic, and forced the Bush-Cheney ticket onto the defensive just when it wanted to go on the attack.

For two days now, the story has been about the scramble to insert a comma in the quote, or add a phrase to qualify it, or pressure the White House to disown it - none of which seems to be helping the Republican ticket, whose convention bounce has already deflated.

Coupled with the latest round of stories about George Bush's failure to take his medical exams, and show up for guard duty in Massachusetts or Alabama, the vice president's misstatement has put the White House on the defensive after a convention that even I have to say was brilliantly staged to put John Kerry squarely in that position.

But even more important, it legitimates a substantive debate that Cheney and his president cannot win. This is not a debate that Kerry is likely to pursue, but in this 527-ed world, where the independents say what candidates can't or won't, someone else surely will.

Maybe Americans for Truth about Terrorism?

Have George Bush and Dick Cheney saved American lives, or wasted them? Are we safer today, or more hated?

Did thousands of Americans have to die on Sept. 11?

Might they have been saved if the president and his team had listened to Richard Clarke when he asked over and over again, in the spring and summer of 2001, for a high level meeting about the threat posed by Osama bin Laden?

Did George Bush and Dick Cheney, and Condi Rice, and the Bush team, fundamentally misunderstand the threat of terrorism, ignore the warnings of the departing Clinton team, and even Clinton himself, of their own CIA director and counterintelligence team, treating bin Laden like fly-swatting and instead, under Cheney's ideological direction, focusing their attention on what has turned out to be the non-threat posed by Iraq?

Remember, it was only a few short months ago that the hot topic in America, and the best-selling books, were not about military service 30 years ago, or even drug use a decade or two ago, but about what the president was told, and by whom, in advance of Sept. 11. From Woodward to Clarke, it was not a pretty picture for Bush-Cheney. But the media and the public have the attention of a gnat, and then everything becomes old news, unless someone says something to justify bringing it up again.

Which is what Dick Cheney did this week.

Not very smart, for a guy who is supposed to be.

It begins to look like a pattern, which makes you wonder. What's wrong with Dick Cheney?

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Oh, I know about the four heart attacks, the two drunk driving convictions (could this really be the first all-alcoholic ticket?), his conflict of interest over Halliburton, swearing at a senator on the floor of the Senate, the secret energy meetings, the trips to the CIA...
What's,Wrong,With,Dick,Cheney?
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2004-00-10
Friday, 10 September 2004 12:00 AM
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