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August 27, 2006

The Cheney Presidency

Cheney's control of the government will be one of the big stories uncovered by history.  Robert Kuttner, co-editor of the American Prospect, has an article in the Boston Globe today arguing 1) that Cheney in fact runs all major aspects of the government and 2) that "if the man actually running the government is out of the spotlight, the administration and its policies are far less accountable".   Here's an exerpt:

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.

If Cheney were the president, more of this would be smoked out because the press would be paying attention. The New York Times' acerbic columnist Maureen Dowd regularly makes sport of Cheney's dominance, and there are plenty of jokes (Bush is a heartbeat away from the presidency). But you can count serious newspaper or magazine articles on Cheney's operation on the fingers of one hand.

America's President has always served two roles.  He (so far it's always been he) governs the country and also handles most of the ceremonial aspects of the role.  What we got this time was a split in duties, only we haven't noticed it yet.  So we go on following what Bush says and does without realizing it's rather like following what Queen Elizabeth is doing rather than what Tony Blair is doing.   

Hat tip to my sister, Nancy.

Posted by Lynn Allen on August 27, 2006 at 10:50 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink

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