"GEORGE W. BUSH has been faulted in some quarters for taking an extended vacation while the Middle East festers. It doesn't much matter; the man running the country is Vice President Dick Cheney.
When historians look back on the multiple assaults on our constitutional system of government in this era, Cheney's unprecedented role will come in for overdue notice. Cheney's shotgun mishap, when he accidentally sprayed his host with birdshot, has gotten more media attention than has his control of the government.
Cheney is in a class by himself. The administration's grand strategy and its implementation are the work of Cheney-- sometimes Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, sometimes Cheney and political director Karl Rove.
Cheney has planted aides in major Cabinet departments, often over the objection of a Cabinet secretary, to make sure his policies are carried out. He sits in on the Senate Republican caucus, to stamp out any rebellions. Cheney loyalists from the Office of the Vice President dominate interagency planning meetings.
The Iraq war is the work of Cheney and Rumsfeld. The capture of the career civil service is pure Cheney. The disciplining of Congress is the work of Cheney and Rove. The turning over of energy policy to the oil companies is Cheney. The extreme secrecy is Cheney and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
Why does this matter? Because if the man actually running the government is out of the spotlight, the administration and its policies are far less accountable.
When George W. Bush narrowly defeated John Kerry in 2004, many commentators observed that Bush was the fellow with whom you would rather have a beer. It's an accurate and unflattering comment on the American electorate -- but then who wants to have a beer with Cheney? The public may not know the details of his operation, but voters intuitively recoil from him.
Bush's popularity ratings are now under 40 percent, beer or no, reflecting dwindling confidence in where he is taking the country. But Cheney's ratings are stuck around 20 percent, far below that of any president.
If Cheney were the actual president, not just the de facto one, he simply could not govern with the same set of policies and approval ratings of 20 percent. The media focuses relentless attention on the president, on the premise that he is actually the chief executive. But for all intents and purposes, Cheney is chief, and Bush is more in the ceremonial role of the queen of England."
* howie klein has set up a pac. with video! and a song!
* kathleen sent through this site / radio program: Between The Lines I haven't checked it out - but it looks interesting.
* driftglass, smcd:
"On Stem Cell research: The Preznit and his people are keenly focused on all scientific developments. In fact there is a whole room in the White House that has been converted to a print shop specializing in converting complex, scientific papers into pop-up books for the Preznit’s bednight table with titles like “Oil -- Good Enough To Balm Our Savior, So Why Is The Christian-Hating Left Against It?” and “Jimmy Blastocyst – Pre-Boy Hero!”"comedy gold from drifty.
* the other day i wrote:
"* i think i just heard gwen ifill on lehrer say that there's no civil war because weekly attacks have fallen 16% since August 2.my global warming analogy didn't even capture the stupidity of the metric - because of course they can choose whichever metric they like in whichever arebitrary time period and find something that has shown a decline and call it 'improvement' - eg # of attacks, or # of dead people or the inverse # of dead 'insurgents' or whatever.
the 'funny' thing about ifill's comment was that she was just reaching back a couple of weeks - its like saying that global warming doesnt exist becuase it was sunny last week, and now its cold. (as well as the fact that one particular metric is meaningless, as you note)
maybe i heard her wrong - but it sounded completely fucking stupid the moment the words fell outta her mouth."
as it happens, apparently the 2 week thing was actually an honest-to-god talking point! here's drifty paraphrasing chris wallace in smcd:
"Wallace: We’ve had a couple of weeks where the carnage wasn’t as bad as it has been, so doesn’t that prove the Dear Leader has been completely right and that you Liberal elitist swine are wrong about everything and have been since the beginning of time?"