Where are the teeth-grinding, strict-
Under the Constitution, only by the death, removal or resignation of the President does the Vice President assume any powers of the Oval Office. The Constitution grants the Vice President the titular post of President of the Senate, but denies him any function except breaking ties. He can’t introduce or debate legislation. He has no authority over our military, nor even a smidgen of power in running the country.
But, as a must-read five-part series by The Washington Post proves, except for wielding the Presidential stylus, Dick Cheney has effectively seized the executive branch of the U.S. government.
Cheney has conducted his own intelligence operations. He’s steered military operations. He’s pulled off radical changes in America’s commitment to international law which the secretary of state and national security advisor discovered only by watching television news.
Cheney’s pursuing his own foreign affairs agenda. Standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier off the coast of Iran, he threatened another disastrous war.
Cheney anointed himself gatekeeper in selecting nominees to the Supreme Court. He has set energy policy, manipulated environmental regulations, stifled the voice of science and reached into the guts of agencies to massage details to his liking.
The vice president has spawned a separate vascular system for the flow of information and power in the federal government. And only Dick Cheney dictates its heartbeat.
His underlings are “ferocious negotiators,” according the Post. In addition to a staff of military and domestic policy advisors, attorneys and political deputies, Cheney has seeded “his people” throughout the federal bureaucracy. “His genius,” says Paul Hoffman, a former Cheney aide, is that “he builds networks and puts the right people in the right places, and then trusts them to make well-informed decisions that comport with his overall views.”
If they disappoint, they’re gone, for Cheney has mastered discipline by example.
Bush may be The Decider, but he’s ordering off the limited menu served up by The Controller-In-Chief. “Invade Iraq? Excellent choice, Mr. President. Now, perhaps you would care to order off the domestic policy menu. Today we have tax cuts for the rich and tax cuts for the rich. You’ll take tax cuts for the rich? Brilliant idea, Mr. President.”
Ah, yes. As the Post revealed, the infamous, deficit-spawning Bush tax-cuts for the ultra rich were one of Cheney’s personal priorities.
To make matters worse, Cheney has been stunningly wrong in everything he’s touched. Our military and foreign policy are in shambles. We’ve mortgaged our children and grandchildren to an ascendant Chinese military-industrial complex. Across the ideological spectrum, Americans have turned pessimistic about the future.
The masterminds of 9/11 have never been brought to justice. We defeated Hirohito and Hitler in less time than Bin Laden and Zawahiri have been laughing at us. A resilient Al Qaeda can again plot attacks on American soil. Cheney was given everything we had to throw against international terrorism, and he blew it.
Along the way to amassing unconstitutional powers, he has committed more than a few crimes and misdemeanors. Some of Cheney’s infractions provide fodder for three articles of impeachment Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D. Ohio) has laid out in H.R. 333. Count One: fabricating the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction as a pretext for war. Count Two: similarly fabricating a link between Al Qaeda and Saddam. Count Three: illegally threatening war against Iran, and thus undermining national security.
So far, only 13 Democrats have signed onto H.R. 333. New Mexico’s Democratic Congressman, Tom Udall, is not among them.
Democrats have been intimidated by Cheney since 2001. Swooning Dems have aided and abetted his accretion of enormous and unchecked power. Democrats legitimize Cheney’s hold on the Executive Branch by acknowledging his office as anything more than a remote contingency plan.
Push comes to shove, the Veep has no real power. How many divisions does Cheney actually command? Other than a lame duck President with historic disapproval ratings, who would mount his defense? Cheney is the country’s most despised politician, even among Republicans. A majority of Americans want him impeached, a statistic not even Bill Clinton suffered.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi derides impeachment as “a distraction.” But perhaps America needs Cheney distracted. He can certainly do a lot more damage with the time left on the clock.
By the way, you can reach Tom Udall at 994-0499 in Rio Rancho or (505) 984-8950 in Santa Fe. (Yes, that's a hint.)