Dick Cheney’s waning influence over Bush

Vice President Dick Cheney Friday called departing Donald Rumsfeld "the greatest Secretary of Defense in history."

Honest. That’s what the man said. Standing on the podium in a lavish going-away ceremony that seemed more like a coronation, Cheney heaped so much praise on Rumsfeld that I thought maybe I had missed the outgoing defense secretary’s ascension to sainthood.

Which raises an immediate question: If Rumsfeld is so damn good, why did Bush fire him the day after the election? If this man is the "greatest Secretary of Defense in history," then why did the President of the United States sack him in the middle of a war that Bush calls so important?

On the one hand, you could say Cheney is just playing nice at a going-away party and saying laudatory things about the man who just lost his job, but Cheney’s message goes much deeper.  His comments were aimed not so much at the American people (Cheney doesn’t much give a damn about the American people anyway) but at a President who stopped listening to him and who has decided that he can run things on his own without a puppeteer called the Vice President.

The November mid-term elections did much more than just cost Republicans control of Congress or send Bush a message that he needs to find a way out of the morass called Iraq. It sent a divisional spike between Bush and Cheney that White House insiders say may never heal and one that could mushroom into a full-blown uncivil war.

Both Cheney and Rumsfeld are old-school politicians, joined at the hip since the Nixon and Ford days. Neither respect Bush. They consider him a political and mental lightweight but were content to live with such shortcomings as long as he left them alone to craft policy in Iraq, drive billion-dollar no-bid contracts to Halliburton and run things pretty much as they wanted.

But Bush needed a scapegoat after the November election debacle and Rumsfeld, the public face for most of the failures in Iraq, took the fall.

Cheney, by most accounts, went ballistic and fought in vain to save his friend. Bush refused to budge. Cheney tried political arguments, saying Republicans would be pissed because of the timing. Bush still refused to listen. Since the firing, White House sources say the two men speak to each other mainly through memos, carry on very little conversation in cabinet meetings and appear together in public only when necessary.

The test of whether or not Cheney has any influence remaining in the White House inner circle will come in January when Bush finally gets around to announcing his plans for change, if any, in Iraq. Cheney continues to push for more troops on the ground and a sustained effort in the failed war.

At this point, no one – including those closest to Bush – is sure what the President will do. Few expect him to follow any of the key recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. No one really expects him to announce any realistic timetable for withdrawal.

But others say he is cool to sending more troops into Iraq, a move that even he realizes will cement public opposition to the war.

Whatever happens, it may mark the first time in the Bush presidency that he will make a decision on his own. Yes, "the decider," the commander in chief who all too often mistakes stubbornness for resoluteness, will now have to see if his failing mental capacities are up to the job.

Comments

  1. Kent Shaw

    The reason Bush keeps shooting down stem cell research is to keep his evangelical constituency happy. To them it makes more sense to flush those frozen embryos down the drain than to use them to facilitate life-saving research. They don’t want to anger their imaginary supernatural being in the sky, being good god-fearing people and all. Which angers their god more? Life-saving research or flushing god-given life into the sewer?

  2. TVAQ

    First off, I would put the crack pipe down for a second or two. Racism does exist in the United States. However, to imply that “white” liberals are at the root of the “current situation” is completely ignorant. I could easily give you statistics that would support your assessment of the black communities (ex top five largest cities with the highest crime rates have a black population of over 60%) but I prefer not going there because it is a social problem that I believe has not been properly dealt with because black political representatives will eat anyone who points it out.

    Secondly, I am a Hispanic, first generation Mex/American who served in the US Army for over six years, worked for the Department of Homeland Security for over three years and am currently waiting for my class date for ICE. To me there is nothing greater than being apart of this great country regardless of what political party you associate with. To bring race as a factor into this blog, my fellow American you have officially ruined a good thing.

    BTW, what have you done for your country today?

  3. Joe Lawrence

    TVAQ and others seem quick to “argue” by always demanding “a plan” from others, and most are able to infer the demanders also require that any such plan proffered has to fit certain Bush-like parameters:

    1. The “plan” must fit on a bumper-sticker.

    2. The “plan” must never refer to the origins of the problem to be solved.

    3. The “plan” must, somehow, lead to a “victory.” (For those who don’t have time to think that final requirement through, it means “control of Iraqi oil, into the next millenium.”

    It is hard to imagine any plan, put forward by anyone, anytime would receive even lip service from the remaining 30-percenters, much akin to the ISG’s plan. Perhaps, though, we could all gain by a semantic query? What, precisely, is the opposite of “surrender monkey?”

  4. Meg

    Most of you seem to believe that if you point to a few “aberrant’ white men, then you are different from them. That you are not them. But you have historically and currently been the ones who have made the worst of you both possible and probable. Your racism and your white womens’ racism, have, with your pornographic senses of entitlement, gotten us where we are. We who are not white, are not fooled. Carry on, whiners. Look to others, even those just like you, to place the blame for our ultimate demise. It is still true, despite your protestations, that whites kept black victims of Katrina from safety. It is whites who named black people as the aggressors in the Rodney King riots, when your beloved hispanic immigrants were the bulk of the rampaging crowds. It is you who believe we (meaning us) can continue to harbor every illegal in our black communities who diminish our housing stores, our schools and health care; so that you can have nannies, gardeners, and gang members to kill us in our very homes. You, white “liberals”, are the root of our undoing. Hell, you didn’t even count our votes, when Bush was selected. Blame yourselves. And keep pushing those billions into the culturally poisonous rap and hiphop. That’s helped you enormously. Or is it “anti-semitic” to point out that Jews are the greatest funders of this profoundly soul-killing form? Congrats, whites. You are everything you purport to hate.

  5. Carolyn

    I am a shrink,I have listened to bush and the way he thinks through these miserable six years. The world is a collage with different religions, races, cultures,governments etc- they aren’t like ours- he doesn’t or can’t think like that- it’s either black or white- so I doubt he will be able to fix anything sad to say- Condi probably doesn’t do much to confront him- and because of his lack of his ability to think beyond the surface- Rumsfield and Cheney and Cheney had a field day- The other issue that is amazing to me is the stem cell issue- third world countries are now ahead of us- because of his executive order regarding stem cell research- He had a sister who died of leukemia back in the fifties- His parents like most, tried everything to save her, back then there was nothing. His father had a picture of her on his desk when he was president. Yet, knowing now that this could of saved his sister, and many Americans from all types of diseases he blocks it. He claims its a religious issue to him- Jimmy Carter was a born again Christian and he didn’t block it- This guy has no empathy, and is not capable of it- because of the way he thinks- The Democrats have to stand up to him and not pussy foot around him like they have been doing- I heard Harry Reid say he’d send more troops for three or four months if they would come back- he doesn’t get it- this will never end

  6. Rhett

    Sandy Price, what are you talking about? Getting our missile defense and civil defense corps in ready for a Muslim invasion? That is perhaps the most ludicrous idea I have ever seen posted on this site.

    Who is going to invade us? Muslim countries like Morocco? Egypt? Indonesia?

    We have nuclear weapons. These third world countries are not going to send their tinpot “navies” to occupy New York City.

    This kind of fear-mongering is beyond irresponsible.

    There are already 8-10 million American Muslims living and prospering here. If they were all terrorists, or if even 10% of were extremists, we would be facing daily terrorist attacks and massive civil unrest. But guess what — Muslims in America are loyal and patriotic. Most came here to escape oppression in their native lands. They are making too much money and are way too invested in this society’s prosperity to wish it harm.

    There is no Islamic invasion coming. The only way our people face danger in the Muslim world is by going over there and getting ourselves shot at.

  7. RE:

    The one great thing about our country is a Democracy. The Dems will have their opportunity to make significant impact to current international issues. The only problem is the dysfunction the party currently has on aligning on one platform. I take that back, they did stand on one platform, We hate Bush. Point taken. Okay can any one outline the Dems priorities with solutions for the next two years? Ex-Marine Murtha and his proposal for overnight withdrawal from Iraq, Nuclear activity in Iran and N. Korea, Terrorist petri dish Syria, Border Security plan (guest worker program or jail time for all undocumented aliens?) etc.

    Please educate me. I have really missed the Dems plan. I am not attempting to be sarcastic, I truly would like some clarity from the other side of the fence.

  8. martin

    Republicans delight in pointing out that there is little concensus among the democrats and point to this as a certain sign of weakness.

    We have the last six years to illustrate what happens when a majority party walks in lockstep. While it may not be pretty, obviously efficient, or lend itself to the 60 second american attention span, i see vigorous debate and reasonable compromise as our best hope.
    Martin

  9. Dilligafst

    None of these GOP people, including Bush 43, really care about the American people. We are just taxpayers to give them free money.

    They are all brainless, each and every one of them, canny but brainless. The world will be a better place with them gone. Bush and Cheney both deserve nothing but impeachment and imprisionment. Rove should be sent to jail immediately for a life term. Why are they still in office?

  10. TRUTH 101

    RE

    OK, if you have the numbers, I will stand corrected on the border issue. Not living in the USA we get CNN and FOX, one on each side of the issue or today…NON-ISSUE.
    If what you say is so I would have expected FOX to have Shaun Hannity down on the Border a second time proclaiming what a great job GWB and Chertoff were doing. They aren’t

    You are also right about Katrina, However, I said what I said based on the fact of the people that were in charge and are STILL in charge and shouldn’t be.

    Chertoff nor Brownie “hell of a job” would have ever held either position., It “might” not have been any better…but with Chertoff, a year later and there is still a massive amount of work to be done there while Chertoff catalogues every flyer by the meals they order. That was my point there.

  11. Ahh … the decider .. just George and his bottle trying to figure out how, as a “compassionate conservative”, to get himself out of the mess he’s in.
    He’s not worried about getting the troops home safe, and he’s not worried about the United States – his feelings regarding this great nation are well documented by his trampling on the Constitution of the United States. No – he’s worried about the same selfish, greedy, simpleton that he’s worried about since he hid in the ANG during Vietnam, he’s worried about George W. Bush.
    As his party moves ever further from him, as impeachment looks ever more probable, as the potential for facing charges of crimes against humanity loom ever larger, George is trying to find a way out – for George.
    F*ck the people …
    Sorry for George that his true mentor, Pinochet, passed away before he could impart his “how to avoid jail” lessons ….
    Way to go George – way to go.
    And the sounds you’re hearing “are the ringing of revolution” (Phil Ochs)

    Peace

    Steve

  12. TVAQ

    Truth 101: I will concur that Homeland Security does have some kinks in its armor. However, you couldn’t be more wrong about the National Guard impact on border security. “At Entry” apprehensions are down 30% across the SWB and engineer projects have forced smugglers to LEA choke points.

    Katrina was a blow not to a political party, but to a nation. I would submit that the Dems would be in the same position that the current political party is in right now. However, the left wing, puppet master, media has the ability to spin events to favor their political initiatives. You have to agree with me on that considering that 75-77% of all media is supportive of the great donkey. Not saying that the right wing doesn’t try to push their own. I believe that educating yourself and listening to both sides you can peal back the B.S. and read between the lines. Unfortunately the majority of Americans do not have the ability to do that and want the bottom line up front.

    Joe: Your right I do consider myself to be conservative, however, not full fledge Republican. I will submit to you that I will take the lesser of the two “evils” any day of the week. For example J. Kerry or GW Bush, I will take Bush even if hell freezes over.

    “Service to the Nation”

  13. RE:

    Truth 101: I will concur that Homeland Security does have some kinks in its armor. However, you couldn’t be more wrong about the National Guard impact on border security. “At Entry” apprehensions are down 30% across the SWB and engineer projects have forced smugglers to LEA choke points.

    Katrina was a blow not to a political party, but to a nation. I would submit that the Dems would be in the same position that the current political party is in right now. However, the left wing, puppet master, media has the ability to spin events to favor their political initiatives. You have to agree with me on that considering that 75-77% of all media is supportive of the great donkey. Not saying that the right wing doesn’t try to push their own. I believe that educating yourself and listening to both sides you can peal back the B.S. and read between the lines. Unfortunately the majority of Americans do not have the ability to do that and want the bottom line up front.

    Joe: Your right I do consider myself to be conservative, however, not full fledge Republican. I will submit to you that I will take the lesser of the two “evils” any day of the week. For example J. Kerry or GW Bush, I will take Bush even if hell freezes over.

  14. Nicholas H.

    Yep, Joe Lawrence, I agree. It’s very easy to spot the right-wing-nut Republinazis who post on here because, like Peter T above, they avoid discussing the issue but attack the poster. Typical Rovian tactic. They’re so predictable.

  15. RealityCheck

    The truth is, Bush has put himself in a no-win situation. People are waiting to hear his “plan” in early January, just like we were all waiting for the Baker group’s plan. He’s got no options. So what are we waiting for?

    All this is beside the point. Insurance companies are starting to wise up and not cover properties in Florida. Next will be no insurance for ANY coastline property. The Iraq war, foreign oil, and geopolitics will be nothing when you can’t get insurance for your home or office. There’s a sea change coming, folks, and that’s not just a rhetorical remark.

  16. Joe Lawrence

    TVAQ seems to subscribe to the right-wing-nut policy – the only one remaining – of trying to make any and all opponents sound evil by making fun of their names.

    Small wonder the country is in deep trouble.

  17. TRUTH 101

    SANDY

    Right on Again IMO

    The PORTS are about 50% protected, mainly by the Coast Guard but STILL only 5% of the containers on average are inspected. Of course we broadcast that all over the NEWS so that anyone with a computer or a TV set could learn of this vulnerability.

    Tehn comes the borders. BUSH was sending in the Guard to help, but the situation has gotten neither bettwer or worse and as you say essentially the borders are wide open from Mexico and even wider from Canada.

    Katrina’s damage in the southern states THAT VOTED SOLIDLY FOR BUSH and COMAPNY is still an abject mess. Are they learning they got exactly the government they wanted?

    So where is Chertoff.

    OH I FORGOT he is compiling records on every citizen that travels, If they buy a one way ticket, where they sit on a plane, what they eat, what they read and all of this is TOP SECRET of course and lest I forget unchallengable.

    Oh and the new program to inspect trains traveling through mid America with “hazardous cargo” Not a problem for the time since trains when so much else NEEDS to be addressed.

    YEP !!
    You’re doin a hell of a job Chertoff. Ther’s another MORON, IMO that needs to be sent packing.

  18. TVAQ

    Bottom-Line up front, I believe President Bush and his staff will be remembered as a White House that “Walked tall and Used the Big Stick”

    Rumsfeld was the Big Stick and he was used accordingly. While the Dems were busy jumping fence and joining Cindy Sheehan and her circle of trust, he was making the calls that needed to be made so America could be safe. It is unfortunate the way we measure success to tangible measures. The lack of terrorist activity in the United States has been minimal to non-existent.

    On another note, the only thing that will happen on January 2, 2007 is the passing of the gun to the Democratic Party.

    I believe the next two years will be very comical for the simple reason that the Dems can not agree on any “HOT” issue. Honestly, half of the Dems appear to be Manchurian candidates for the GOP (which is a good thing).

    To top it off you have Pelosi leading the way, Reyes in charge of the Intel Committee (Already making waves), and the possible presidential candidates for the Dems bumping heads. For Sh!@s and giggles let me name the possible brain trust for the Democratic Party; Hillary (SATAN) Clinton, Osama Hussein Obama, John (“I have a Purple Heart”) Kerry, John (Pretty Boy) Edwards.

    My prediction, the Dems will mirror the DEA agent from Florida that shot herself in the foot.

  19. Aurele

    My opinion is a statement lost in the wind..The American public is to be congratulated in their blind support of an idiot..Very Patriotic indeed.

  20. I’d suppose you are correct about The Great Divide. But it just distracts us from the looming colapse of The Great US Empire. You almost make it look like there is something left to save either with the ‘W’ or with the US Empire. You almost legitimize the Phony Iraq Study Group by repeated references. Going to Iraq on lies, staying on lies, leaving on lies, and it still doesn’t make either of the Bush’s War Crimes anything but.

  21. Kent Shaw

    Peter T. said, “You’re a fg idiot.”

    I believe this is a perfect example of the psychological phenomonon the psychologists call “projection”. Regardless, I do not see how this would add to an intelligent discussion.