Tuesday, July 24, 2007

To Impeach or to Not Impeach

The absolutely incredible Vice Presidency
of Dick Cheney
by Charlie Leck

Constant emails are getting through to me from every possible kind of organization – substantial and thrown-together – urging me to join the movement to impeach Dick Cheney (you know, the weird guy who plays our Vice President in that movie that is just so wildly insane that no one really believes it as possibility). When one looks closely at the actions of Cheney over the last six years, one is tempted to join ranks with Dennis Kucinich in his “rabid” attack on the Vice President.

Hendrick Hertzberg, in the 9 July 2007 issue of The New Yorker, says a Broadway play about Cheney/Bush would be “irresistible.” He says it would be the “story of the scowling, scheming, domineering, silently sinister Vice-President and the spoiled, petted prince who becomes his play thing… -- …set in a pristine White House, played against an ominous unseen background of violence and catastrophe, like distant thunder, and packed with drama, palace intrigue and black comedy.”

My wife called my attention to the Hertzberg commentary. She regularly downloads articles from the New Yorker to her IPod. “This is crazy! You won’t believe this,” she said. Funny, though, because I believed every word.

The Hertzberg condemnation of Richard Cheney is magnificent, funny, powerful and surgical. Don’t miss it if you’re interested in this question about whether or not Cheney should be impeached. http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2007/07/09/070709taco_talk_hertzberg
The only thing good about this administration is this palace intrigue. It is certainly better than the finest thriller fiction and it pushes the reader to the edges of credibility. One puts down the book occasionally and breathlessly asks: “Is it possible?”

In my lifetime, no occupants of the main offices in the White House and Executive Mansion have been so zany. It’s like the craziness of the Adams Family without the slapstick comedy! It would be totally laughable if it wasn’t so dangerous. Hertzberg refers to Cheney as Elmer Fudd. Think of Cheney in his duck blind and the appellation fits.

It has been the so-called War on Terror that has given Cheney excuse for such looseness (as in “loose cannon” or as in “monster on the loose.”) Again, as Hertzberg says, Dick Cheney, more than anyone else is the man who, through his actions and policies, has “…inflicted unprecedented disgrace on our country’s moral and political standing.”

The indictment, more than any other, that drives the organizations that want to impeach Dick Cheney is that he has been responsible for launching this war (Iraq) under false pretenses. In is not an indictment against the President mind you, because, again, he is seen only as a palace prince.

Dick Cheney lives in disgrace even in the eyes of real conservatives – I’m not talking here of those Bible thumping idiots who can’t see beyond some easily quotable words of scripture that they aren’t even capable of fully understanding. They love Cheney.
Cheney’s roll call of dishonor surpasses anything I know about in history.

Cheney was the force behind the firing of those U.S. Attorneys for fully political reasons.

Cheney was responsible for the tax cuts for the rich that went even far beyond anything the President thought wise and politically safe.

Cheney has built for this administration an environmental policy that is an absolute disgrace in the eyes of nearly the entire world. These policies have resulted in a breath-taking disregard for the safety of our air and water and invited a level of pollution into our environmental infrastructure such as we never dreamed could happen.

It was Cheney who single-handedly invented the EPA rule that allowed refurbished power plants to NOT install modern controls against pollution. This action, it turns out, is what caused Christy Todd Whitman to resign as EPA administrator.

And, it was Cheney who convinced his palace prince to ignore calls for national action and global cooperation in the battle against greenhouse gases.

The new Supreme Court Justices, Samuel Alito and John Roberts, were hand-picked by Dick Cheney. We now have a majority that will do this nation great harm for many years to come. It is the Court that recently ruled that conscious racial integration and conscious racial segregation were moral equivalents.

Now here is the scary part. Dick Cheney still has 18 months of control over this nation yet to go.
I’ve printed out for myself the four-part series in the Washington Post that Hertzberg refers to in his New Yorker Magazine piece: http://blog.washingtonpost.com/cheney/ …it runs for over 40 pages in very small type. It is an extremely cautious bit of reporting that documents every single accusation, charge or claim it makes. If you’re sitting on the fence about this impeachment movement, this series of articles may push you into the Kucinich camp. This magnificent piece of journalism is done by Barton Gellman and Jo Becker. They will receive some major awards for this remarkable work. It drew on interviews with more than 200 men and women who worked closely with Cheney or in opposition to him.

Cheney’s most remarkable achievement, which will stand as his legacy – whether you regard it positively or negatively – is that he has vastly expanded the war making authority of the President. This is a power that congress, especially over the last 60 years, has allowed the Executive Branch to slowly and conclusively steal from them. Cheney/Bush finished the deal!
Though it is not likely to be permanent, Cheney has also reshaped the roll of the Vice President in Executive Branch policy making. Clearly, Cheney is the most influential and powerful V.P. in the history of the nation. No Vice President has made decisions that had the force of changing history until Dick Cheney came along. Former Vice President Dan Quayle speaks of Cheney as a “surrogate chief of staff.” This is the first time I have ever said this, or dreamed I would say it, but Quayle’s words ring wise and true. George W. Bush is not a strong enough person to handle such a Vice President and is unable to keep Cheney in his historic place; that is, out of the decision making loop. To many, it is the Vice President, and not the President, who is “the Decider” on many, many issues.

Cheney has access to every meeting and every important discussion that takes place within the White House. He may voice his opinion about any matter, at any time. And, he usually has the President’s ear last in all controversial discussions. Most importantly, Gellman and Becker point out in their Washington Post series, the Vice President also intervenes in discussion at the sub-cabinet level when the President is absent from those discussions. In those meetings, Cheney speaks with the force of the Presidency.

What are the issues that Cheney keeps on his plate and works on regularly? How important do you think the following list is? (1) Economic Issues; (2) Security Concerns; (3) Energy Policy; (4) White House Legislative Agenda; (5) Nominations and Appointments.

The Washington Post Series has not drawn significant criticism from the Vice President’s office or from the Republican Party. In many ways it draws a very positive picture of Dick Cheney. His is far more intelligent than the President. He understands the working of the Executive Branch as well as anyone in government (remember, he served as Chief of Staff to President Gerald R. Ford). He routinely works harder than the President, beginning his reading before 5 A.M. on most mornings. He is more familiar with the relationship between the Executive and Legislative branches of government and, as President of the Senate, moves freely and easily between both. So familiar is he with the workings and inter-workings of these two worlds that I doubt he has one shred of worry about his possible impeachment.

If Dick Cheney were on the side of liberals, fighting for their issues, I don’t believe they would have one problem with him. We all like tough guys when they’re on our side. None of us are afraid of bullies who are our buddies.

Even with that in mind, one has to remember that any reading of current history points to Chaney as the author and enforcer of the policy regarding terrorist prisoners that carefully circumvented the intentions of the Geneva Convention regarding torture. It appears he was also the chief author of the evidence that pointed to Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. Was he fully aware that the evidence did not exist and that the carefully constructed reasons for war were false? Likely. These two issues provoke the possibility of impeachment.

I can imagine how forceful Dick Cheney was in convincing a gullible President of the importance of these two matters. In impeachment hearings on Capitol Hill that would be very difficult to prove as fact.

What I find totally curious about Dick Cheney is his absolute indifference to public opinion. Most politicians have a constant thermometer stuck up the rear of the public, checking the heat constantly. Cheney doesn’t mind the heat. He’s told countless people to get out of the kitchen if they couldn’t take it. Cheney’s attitude may have led the Administration directly into the problem that strangles it today – polls that show no confidence on the part of the American people.

Read, if you will, Gellman and Becker’s remarkable description of Cheney roll in economic and tax issues and his leadership in the legislative fight for multiple tax cuts for the very wealthy – cuts that went even far beyond what the President thought economically and politically wise. The third and fourth sections of their series deal with these subjects and with Cheney’s impact on environmental matters.

The so-called environmental left, the tree-huggers, are hard on the impeachment band wagon. No one else in history has taken such a hard line on issues that do serious damage to the environment than Dick Cheney. It infuriates me and I wonder if we can endure 18 more months of such harmful policies. The impeachment band-wagon looks inviting, but I still conclude that it will do more damage politically to the Democratic Party than it can stand.

Between the war in Iraq and our absurd policy regarding the world’s environmental health, the image of the United States of America is at its lowest ebb in all of history. We are held in disdain by most other nations of the world. The tough guy, Dick Cheney, doesn’t care. I wonder if he ever wonders if the rest of the world might be correct on this matter and that he might be wrong. I doubt it.

Your homework, class, if you wish to continue in this course, is to go to the Washington Post web site to read these four extraordinary documented essays about Dick Cheney and his amazing influence on life in America. This is not elective. It is required. http://blog.washingtonpost.com/cheney/

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