Stateside

Dick Cheney: Confidential

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I’ve long been uneasy with the shadowy influence of Vice President Dick “Dark Side” Cheney in the Bush administration, and it looks as if he is starting to get a bit of a comeuppance. Not that it’s likely to change anything.

This week The Washington Post published a four-part series about Cheney’s often-hidden reach in into all aspects of government decision-making, ranging from interrogation methods for accused terrorists (he joined in the successful effort to allow techniques bordering on, and probably crossing into, torture) to easing environmental regulations to benefit business and industry.

Meanwhile, the White House agreed that Cheney was justified in ignoring a Presidential order requiring executive branch offices provide data to the National Archives on how much material they classify and declassify. The reason, according to the White House, is that since Cheney is president of the Senate, he is not covered by regulations relating to the executive branch.

Note that the order does not require Cheney’s office to provide actual classified information, but simply statistical data on that information. But secrecy is such an obssession with Cheney that he felt the need to declare that his office really isn’t what it is.

As Dana Milbank wrote in The Post:

That’s quite opposite the argument Cheney made in 2001, when he said that a congressional probe into the workings of his energy task force “would unconstitutionally interfere with the functioning of the executive branch.” Cheney has, in effect, declared himself to be neither fish nor fowl but an exotic, extraconstitutional beast who answers to no one.

Democrats in the House of Represenatives, reacting quite logically to Cheney’s insistence that he is outside the purview of the executive branch, tried Thursday to cut off funding for for Cheney’s offices in the, um, Executive Office Building and the White House. Unfortunately they fell short.

Harry Shearer, the voice of many of the great characters on “The Simpsons,” does a weekly radio show with a hilarious occasional feature called “Dick Cheney: Confidential.” (Listen to an episode here.) The more I learn about Cheney, the more I think Shearer has him absolutely pegged.

There are, by my count, 552 long days to go before we can finally be rid of Cheney, his too-often clueless, incompetent boss (nominally, at least) and the rest of this disastrous adminstration. I’m sure I’m not the only one wishing they could go faster.

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