April 08, 2004

Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Fools? (Special Dick Cheney's Puppet Edition)

I won't call George W. Bush a puppet for Dick Cheney if Cheney will stop re-tying Bush's strings whenever they break. Dan Froomkin writes:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/politics/administration/whbriefing/

...there is a growing focus on President Bush's willingness only to face the panel investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in private, unrecorded and with Vice President Cheney at his side.

Here's CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider on Tuesday: "The question that's emerging out of all this is simple: Why does the president of the United States have to appear jointly with the vice president of the United States? I mean, can you imagine Clinton and Gore testifying before such a commission or the first George Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle? Why do they have to appear together?

"It's raising some damaging questions about whether or not George Bush knows enough to testify on his own or whether he's dependent on Vice President Cheney."

Presidential confidante Karen Hughes defended the joint appearance on Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press": "I'm not sure what the rationale specifically was, but I think the White House believes that it is an effective use of their time," she said. "Many times, President Bush and Vice President Cheney were in the room together during much of the events, much of the briefings, much of the lead-up that the commission is looking at. And so I think it's appropriate that they appear together and discuss how they saw the events leading up to September 11."

Shorter Karen Hughes: "I can't think up a convincing lie, and nobody else has thought up a convincing lie either."

Posted by DeLong at April 8, 2004 11:31 PM | TrackBack | | Other weblogs commenting on this post
Comments

Actually, I thought Karen Hughes' response was remarkably forthright.

Shorter Karen Hughes II: "How can you expect Bush to answer questions about 9-11 without Cheney now, when he couldn't answer questions without Cheney on 9-11?"

Posted by: agrajag on April 8, 2004 11:42 PM

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Is there any administration official who has previously testified, but who was *not* "in the room... during much of the lead-up"?

Posted by: Jeffrey Kramer on April 9, 2004 12:20 AM

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It is such Batman and Robin scenario it makes one blush.

Posted by: David Irwin on April 9, 2004 12:22 AM

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Hey, where are the dancing girls?!
Thought this was dinner and a show,
not Ringling Brothers, on steroids.

Posted by: Hesai Deshaid on April 9, 2004 12:28 AM

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Exactly as Jeff has it. One wonders what " an effective use of their time" means here. Is Hughes telling us that this is a distraction from the campaign ( and what could be more important than that)?
'Effective' for whom exactly? Is this semi-private 'commission' in some sort of race or is it investigating something?

Posted by: calmo on April 9, 2004 04:49 AM

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Batman and Robin? How about Edgar Bergan and Charlie MacCarthy!

Posted by: SW on April 9, 2004 05:12 AM

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> what " an effective use of their time" means here
sort of a Freudian slip.
Questioning Bush alone would be an ineffective waste of time which is not to say Cheney's presence will be much of an improvment.
The "talk" will not be under oath and not televised so we will not get to see Cheney flashing George hand signals as you would a trained poodle.

Posted by: cj on April 9, 2004 05:20 AM

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It's perfectly done. Bush talks and you can't even see Cheney's lips moving.

Posted by: Chuck Nolan on April 9, 2004 05:44 AM

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What's really infuriating is that the Commission actually accepted this. I think the Commission now has more than enough political pull that they could essentially order anyone in the administration to appear and testify publicly under oath--and they would get what they wanted.

Both the press and the public is catching on to the idea that Bush is doing everything in his power to make sure that 9/11 is never investigated thoroughly. And that's getting even Bush supporters pissed off.

Posted by: Derelict on April 9, 2004 06:02 AM

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Today's assignment is 'compare and contrast':

'Effective use of their time'

and

'President Bush has begun his Easter week vacation in Crawford'

Posted by: Bruce Lokeinsky on April 9, 2004 06:06 AM

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Bush is supposedly spending Easter week at Crawford "with his family."

Has anyone checked whether the twins are there?

Posted by: wvmcl on April 9, 2004 06:13 AM

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My, my, my... just asking this question clearly shows us how much more primitive you Democrats are than us Republicans.

You lefties seem to really think that everyone is the same.

Well... you're all WRONG, AGAIN.

I particularly like the distinction my friend K Harris made between FINE GRAINED UNDERSTANDERS and TRIUMPHALISTS.

Guess what, neither one is right and neither one is wrong.

Using a baseball metaphor, managers tend to be FGAs while players tend to be triumpalists. Listen my primitive friends... YOU NEED BOTH TO SUCCEED in baseball!... or any other endeavour.

A more evolved political party like the REPUBLICAN PARTY uses the diversity of human abilities and points of view to great advantage while the more primitive Denocrats hew to the party line talking points espoused by whoever the top apparatchik is at any given time.

You Dems pay lip service to diversity while us Republican have mastered its' usage to whip your buts.

Adrian Spidle CT (Certified triumphalist)

Posted by: Adrian Spidle on April 9, 2004 07:03 AM

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the thing that gets me about this is that a famously political administration should have decided to do it anyway. either it speaks ill of their core competency -- for who could possibly look at this and not see political fallout? -- or there is something much, much darker going on behind the scenes than what we already imagine.

I hope it's the first one, myself.

Posted by: wcw on April 9, 2004 07:04 AM

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I think Cheney will wow us all by drinking a glass of water while Bush is answering a question.

Posted by: SW on April 9, 2004 07:19 AM

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So Bush notches up 233 vacation days - that's about 233 x 24, or approximately 5,000 hours of vacation. Yet the commission had to beg for more than 1 hour to interview this guy. And when he conceded, he would not allow himself to be interviewed without his Dick Cheney to hold his hand.

Can anyone say spineless sloth? So we have a so-called "war" president who cannot walk into a room unassisted and answer a few questions to make us safer?

Posted by: Boosh on April 9, 2004 07:19 AM

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My Mr. DeLong, what weird trolls you have here!

Posted by: SW on April 9, 2004 07:22 AM

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wcw,
That jumped out at me too -- the admin looked at the situation, weighed the outcomes both political and operational, and decided it was STILL a good idea for GW to appear with Cheney. I mean, GW's image as a tough individual sort of crumbles with this news. Makes me wonder what the truth of the matter is. Are they afraid GW and Cheney will tell different stories because :
o GW doesn't really know anything and it will come out
o GW will make blunders, admit to wrongdoing, tell secrets he's not supposed to
o Cheney wants to control the situation

I'd really love to know.

Posted by: heet on April 9, 2004 07:42 AM

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Boosh: the 233 days is just at Crawford. In total, it's something like 500 days of vacation, or 40% of his time. Forty motherf***ing percent.

Posted by: Tom Hilton on April 9, 2004 07:57 AM

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Bush is the head of state while Cheney is the head of government. The problem with this dual presidency is in plain sight after Condi's testimony yesterday. There simply is no political responsibility for policy miscues. Bush has to be presented, ala the Queen of England, as floating above the fray, whereas Cheney answers to no one beyond the corporate sponsors of the Repubican Party. This administration combines the toughness of a street gang with the smile of a Cheshire cat.

Posted by: Walter Hall on April 9, 2004 08:12 AM

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The idea is not to protect Bush. The idea is to protect Cheney. Cheney was the guy who dropped the ball on the terrorist commission. Cheney was given the task of redoing the Rudman Hart commission work. Cheney is the one with the secret energy policy meeting where who knows what was said about oil and the Middle East and Iraq?

By Bush appearing and limiting his time to 1h, then Cheney appearing with Bush, then Cheney's time is necessarily limited to 1h. Questions addressed to Cheney can be deflected by Bush and Bush can be there to claim executive priviledge if they delve too deep into the dark side of the administration. Bush keeps his own hands and image clean.

After the near miss that his father had with Iran Contra indictments, Bush43 leaves the political dirty work in the hands of Mr. Rove and policy dirty work in the hands of Mr. Cheney. The hope is that Mr Bush will draw most of the questions and fire and Cheney will escape. Instead of the good cop / bad cop routine, Bush is running the good president / bad vice president routine.

Posted by: bakho on April 9, 2004 08:22 AM

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Don't most people "vacation" somewhere around 40% of the time? 2 weekend days is 28% + 2 weeks vacation (another 4 %) + 10 holidays (another 3%), so that is not so far off the average. Plus Mr. Bush has never stopped campaigning since 1999 so he sort of has 2 jobs.

Posted by: bakho on April 9, 2004 08:26 AM

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bakho,
Interesting idea, has that "just crazy enough to be true" ring to it. It's a simple explanation but answers alot of questions. Maybe Cheney's involvement IS the dirty secret. I notice he wasn't mentioned much yesterday at the Rice hearings. Makes ya wonder.

Posted by: heet on April 9, 2004 08:33 AM

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If pressure is put on the White House about this, like most everything else they will cave.

I understand Clinton talked to them for three hours all by his lonesome yesterday afternoon.

Of course, Clinton has the ability to put a coherent sentence together too and talk about complex subjects.

Anybody think Bush can do either of these things?

Posted by: attaturk on April 9, 2004 08:34 AM

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Note of correction:

The commission now has Bush/Cheney for longer than the one h period they originally granted (no time constraints whatever that means). If questioners only had 10 min each with Dr. Rice over 3 h, then 1 h would be 1.5 minutes of questions per panel member per witness. Clearly, not a long enough time.

Posted by: bakho on April 9, 2004 09:03 AM

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When Bush underwhlems with his ignorance and Cheney pisses them off with his arrogance, the Democratic members of the Commission will come out will all guns blazing with leaks about how inept and uncooperative they were. Bush cannot answer every question with "if I knew that on the morning of 9/11 four planes were to be hijacked in Boston and NJ and that the hijackers intended to fly those planes into the WTC, the Pentagon and the White House or Capitol, then I would have done everything in my power to try and stop it." It will wear thin.

Posted by: Cal on April 9, 2004 09:20 AM

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Navigating the Bush disgrace-o-sphere has become tedious! I have decided to withdraw into my own thoughts, talk to no one, become a sociopath, get Daddy's friends to finance me, declare eminent domain on a bunch of poor people to clear the way for a stadium, and run for office.

Posted by: Lee A. on April 9, 2004 09:22 AM

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By the way, anybody know the tag to contact the 9/11 families who send questions to the commission? It's about time somebody asks: since we know what the policy WASN'T, please tell us exactly what it WAS, and why in hell did you send $43 million to the Taliban before the Twin Tower Attack, when Condi clearly said you knew everything about Al Qaeda? Are you dense?

Posted by: Lee A. on April 9, 2004 09:28 AM

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Since "The Price of Loyalty" has been out for some time now, there is simply no excuse for anyone not to see Bush as a complete mental defective.

Posted by: Bob H on April 9, 2004 09:44 AM

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"You Dems pay lip service to diversity while us Republican have mastered its' usage to whip your buts"

Try butts with two ts. And we do see your lily white diversity in the republican board rooms, devoid of women and minorities.

Posted by: me on April 9, 2004 09:58 AM

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While I was reading Cal's post above, by chance a White House spokesman (Bartlett?) was telling the world that of course Bush would have done what was necessary had he known that hijackers would crash planes into buildings in Washington and New York. What the 6 August PDB appears to tell us is that they did know about threats of hijackings -- and allowed them to happen. With the PNAC agenda lurking in the background one must one must at the very least examine the possibility that they expected to utilize the hijackings to implement the agenda.

Posted by: RJRjr on April 9, 2004 10:53 AM

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From ABCNews.com:

"AL GORE finishes 3-hour "candid and forthcoming" chat with 9/11 Commission, statement says... brings long-time national security aide Leon Fuerth in tow..."

Whoops! Looks like AlGore can't answer any questions without Leon Fuerth "re-tying" Gore's strings "whenever they break".

What's the matter? AlGore too stupid to appear alone? What's AlGore afraid of?

Idiots.

Posted by: Al on April 9, 2004 11:30 AM

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Al sez:
Idiots.

remind us why you are here again?

Posted by: heet on April 9, 2004 11:43 AM

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"AL GORE finishes 3-hour "candid and forthcoming" chat with 9/11 Commission, statement says... brings long-time national security aide Leon Fuerth in tow..."

Link? Thus far none of the reports I've seen mention bringing Fuerth or anybody.

Posted by: NTodd on April 9, 2004 11:58 AM

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I find it interesting that Dear Leader had three hours freed up yesterday to watch Condi testify on TV, but can only manage to spare one hour of his precious time to face the 9/11 Commission....

Posted by: peter jung on April 9, 2004 12:06 PM

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Clinton and Gore consented in February to separate private interviews.

President Bush (news - web sites) and Vice President Dick Cheney (news - web sites) also will meet privately with the full panel in a joint session in coming weeks. They initially restricted the interview to one hour with two panel members, but under mounting public pressure agreed last week to a joint session without time constraints.

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=544&e=2&u=/ap/20040409/ap_on_go_pr_wh/sept_11_commission_clinton

There is a real difference. Bush and Cheney have been stonewalling the commission from the get go. They are in the cover your ass mode. Condi was a typical cover your ass bureaucrat.

Clinton and Gore want to see reforms that will improve security.

All in all, it makes sense for Bush and Cheney to go together. An interview between Bush and the commission that resembled the Bush MTP interview would be too painful and unproductive. At least with both of them there, they might get some information.

Personally, I think the commission would get more out of talking to Hart and Rudman.

Posted by: bakho on April 9, 2004 12:50 PM

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C'mon, if Bush can't handle Russert on MTP without making a complete ass of himself can you imagine his performance in front of the 9/11 comission? Please, stop pressing the issue, it's too embarrassing (painful) to imagine Bush testifying alone before that comission.

Posted by: CSTAR on April 9, 2004 12:57 PM

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An 'effective use of his time'?

I was leaning towards the thought that Bush is even dumber than he appears, and might actually explode if questioned without Cheney.

But bakho might be on to something.

After you eliminate everything that is IMPOSSIBLE, the solution that is left, no matter how IMPROBABLE, will be correct.

Posted by: serial catowner on April 9, 2004 01:01 PM

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It's an effective use of their time because two can waste three hours more effectively than one.

Posted by: Steve on April 9, 2004 01:25 PM

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I see your Batman & Robin allusion, and raise you one Spock & McCoy.

In the Star Trek episode "All Our Yesterdays," Spock & McCoy had to return through a time simultaneously, because they had stepped through together at first.

I'm sure that's what Karen Hughes was thinking of.

Posted by: Grumpy on April 9, 2004 01:32 PM

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Should be, "time portal." Y'all saw the show. You know what I'm talking about.

Posted by: Grumpy on April 9, 2004 01:36 PM

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Once again Bush is rattling off his reason why the terrorists hate us. The terrorists hate freedom and we love freedom blah blah blah. What a fucking idiot! I can't wait until monkey boy gets his ass kicked in 2004.

Posted by: spyder on April 9, 2004 01:49 PM

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Once again Bush is rattling off his reason why the terrorists hate us. The terrorists hate freedom and we love freedom blah blah blah. What a fucking idiot! I can't wait until monkey boy gets his ass kicked in 2004.

Posted by: spyder on April 9, 2004 01:49 PM

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--
Don't most people "vacation" somewhere around 40% of the time? 2 weekend days is 28% + 2 weeks vacation (another 4 %) + 10 holidays (another 3%), so that is not so far off the average. Plus Mr. Bush has never stopped campaigning since 1999 so he sort of has 2 jobs.
Posted by: bakho on April 9, 2004 08:26 AM
--

Bakho. 40% of the year is 146 days.

There are 52 weeks per year, which yield 104 days of vacation. I personally get 12 holidays per year, which brings that up to 116.

That leaves 30 days of "vacation" time, which only includes the business days of the vacation (ie, 5 days per week) as the weekends were accounted for previously.

Wouldn't you just about kill for a job which gave you six full weeks of vacation?

I know most people would.

Granted, it's a high-stress job, but during times such as these (noting escallating situation in Iraq) and those past (August 2001 vacation while the CIA was giving briefings declaring OBL as planning US attacks) ... it's a bit much. I think times of national crisis should be allowed to cramp a President's vacation schedule.

The fact that he is spending a good portion of his "on duty" time campaigning instead of tending to the business of the American People is more damning than excusing. If I took six weeks off per year, didn't work weekends, and still spent 10-20% of my time at work playing machiavellian office politics, I think I'd be fired. Okay, I *know* I'd be fired.

Then again, with a bit of luck, W will meet the same fate. Not because he's taking breaks, but because he's not getting the job done and taking breaks when the crisis requires his full attention and presence.

Posted by: Jet Tredmont on April 9, 2004 01:52 PM

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Adrian Spidle CT (Certified triumphalist)

Yes, Adrian, it is obvious that you are.

Posted by: ____league on April 9, 2004 01:55 PM

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" Clinton and Gore want to see reforms that will improve security."

Why didn't they do something like that from 1993-00?

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on April 9, 2004 02:10 PM

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Any leader not able to handle testifying by himself at a commission hearing isn't fit to be our leader, period. ABB!

Posted by: Neil on April 9, 2004 02:29 PM

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I've seen aWol live recently and he looks lost;
unable to complete sentences; unsure of his facts.

Also, he and cheney together testifying will put out more boilerplate & filibustering than condiliar ever dreamed to do. Every answer will
have several talking points attached; like tin
cans dragging behind a "Just Married" car.

Posted by: Bartolo on April 9, 2004 03:59 PM

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What's with the half baked Manichean psychoanalysis out of the GOPer? Did someone let the taunt clown off the dunk tank at the fair?

Posted by: pesky on April 9, 2004 05:01 PM

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What's with the half baked Manichean psychoanalysis out of the GOPer? Did someone let the taunt clown off the dunk tank at the fair?

Posted by: pesky on April 9, 2004 05:01 PM

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about the presidain't and the REAL presicrat testifying (oops, excuse me - meeting) with the 911 commission:
1. can you imagine ANY other president who couldn"t try to defend his actions without a chaperone?
2. don't give me this drivel about "judicious use of time" - that dog won't hunt. this is only about the most momentous event in the last 20+ years.
3. since the president obviously (and rightly so) dreads talking directly to the people via press conferences the commission should have demanded a public hearing. under oath or not is immaterial right now.
4. that he would certainly refuse to speak publicly would infer loads about having something to hide.
5. the commission won't learn anything from either of them, alone or together.
6. expect a masterful display (esp. from cheney) of "if you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit".

Posted by: terrydactyl on April 9, 2004 05:25 PM

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"AL GORE finishes 3-hour "candid and forthcoming" chat with 9/11 Commission, statement says... brings long-time national security aide Leon Fuerth in tow..." - Al

Link? Thus far none of the reports I've seen mention bringing Fuerth or anybody. - NTodd

You can't link to Rush "Big Pharma" Limbaugh.

Posted by: Thumb on April 9, 2004 06:12 PM

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Clinton wanted to fire Freeh's incompetent ass but could not do so because of the GOP support for Freeh. The Republicans made sure that the Whitewater non-scandal kept Clinton from effectively utilizing his FBI.

Posted by: bakho on April 9, 2004 06:33 PM

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And please don't forget the resistance that President Clinton got for his anti-terrorist proposals. Stop money laundering? Not while Phil Gramm was Senator. Put taggants in explosives? Not while the NRA is funding the GOP.

Posted by: bakho on April 9, 2004 06:35 PM

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Another:

" Clinton and Gore want to see reforms that will improve security."

Patrick R. Sullivan:

"Why didn't they do something like that from 1993-00?"

You never get tired of feeding my roses, do you?
Perhaps you might want to consider that 9/11 happened *after* a new administration put anti-terrorism on a back burner, behind just about everything else.

Then again, you probably don't.

Posted by: Barry on April 9, 2004 07:10 PM

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Is the deal still that now that Condi has testified (sort of) and the Bush/Cheney act will appear and perhaps respond to questions if they feel like it--not answer--but respond (and not under oath) then none of them can ever be called again? That's the bargain I read of. If so, then Bush/Cheney can stall and blather and say nothing useful (they're good at that)---maybe Cheney will once again tell the Commission that it really is true that Iraq had WMDs and was going to use them and it really, really is true that Hussein helped Bin-Laden/Al Quaida accomplish 09/11. And then that's it. Besides continuing to stonewall on document releases and release of the eventual Commission report. And perhaps even finding a way to suspend elections in 2004 if things don't look good. Sure, Lincoln thought it was important to have elections in the middle of the Civil War, but hey, this is a war on Terrorism and that makes everything different--

I doubt if the Commission really has the guts (and/or isn't too heavily influenced by the Bushies and their cronies) to draw reasonable conclusions from all the testimony it's hearing, documents reviewed.

Posted by: azurite on April 9, 2004 11:06 PM

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Beyond how bad the lie Hughes gave, was how it didn't even make logical sense. Her rationale is that since both were there together much of the time, it's a more effective use to have both of them testify together. But if both were there together, why are both needed in the first place? Either the stories are the same, in which case you only need one of them, or they are different--in which case you'd want to interview them separately.

Shorter Hughes III: "Only Dick really knows how to work the joystick when George isn't at the podium."

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