Sound and Fury: The Cheney Show

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Rick Horowitz
Tuesday, September 1, 2009

If I were Dick Cheney—not to worry; the Lord works in mysterious ways, but there are limits—I’d be kicking up a fuss, too. A really good fuss.

I’d be scowling for whatever sympathetic cameras I could still find. I’d be flinging accusations of political payback, or institutional ingratitude, or diplomatic naiveté at the people who succeeded me.

I’d even let the occasional curse word fly, just to prove to one and all how ticked off I am.

If I were Dick Cheney, in other words, I’d probably be doing exactly what Dick Cheney is doing.

It beats going to prison.

* * *

Maybe it’s true: Maybe the best defense really is being offensive—in which case, Dick Cheney is doing an absolutely top-notch job of guarding his perimeter. There isn’t the slightest hint of apology in his voice, or in his manner, when it comes to the Bush administration’s treatment of suspected terrorists in American custody. When it comes to Attorney General Eric Holder’s recent decision to take another, closer look at who did what to whom, and on just what authority.

Disdain instead—and barely restrained fury. And, of course, generosity of spirit to those poor souls further down the chain of command.

Because this isn’t about Dick Cheney, not at all. This is about the courageous men and women who did what was necessary to safeguard their country—our country!—from evil-doers. End of discussion.

And anyway, it was legal. Dick Cheney’s lawyers said it was legal.

And anyway, it worked. Dick Cheney insists it worked.

Dick Cheney insists a lot of things when he’s got a sympathetic camera, and nothing’s going to stop him, or even challenge him—certainly not Chris Wallace’s entranced interrogation techniques. He’s free to cross the fact-fantasy frontier whenever he chooses, free to make whatever claims suit his twin purposes:

Protecting his country.

Protecting his butt.

Am I the only cynic out there? Am I the only one who suspects that Cheney is borderline apoplectic about Holder’s investigation because he knows only too well that these inquiries, as narrowly focused as they might be initially, tend to acquire a momentum of their own? And because Cheney knows exactly where that momentum could lead?

Am I the only one who hears Cheney’s strong defense of those CIA interrogators as an insurance policy? There’s nothing a prosecutor likes better than a little fish willing to give up a bigger fish. Dick Cheney is one very big fish; he can’t afford to have one of those small fry decide that the former veep hasn’t been sufficiently supportive, and that the only way to save his own neck is to…

You get the picture.

And one more picture, because Dick Cheney, after all, is only half of the Cheney Family Media Blitz. We can’t forget about Liz Cheney.

Try as we might.

Now, a daughter’s love—for her father, for the spotlight—is a wonderful thing to behold. Would Liz Cheney prefer that Dick Cheney not have to worry about being treated as a war criminal? Absolutely. Would she prefer that he go into the history books as a fine fellow rather than a felon? You bet.

All of which might excuse her sudden eagerness to sit for the cameras, if not her insistence on getting the first word, the last word, and most of the words in between. She goes on, and on—oblivious to data (and courtesy)—no matter how many others might be gathered around the table trying to inject an actual fact or two into the conversation. Liz Cheney has a message to deliver.

And Liz Cheney apparently believes that speaking at high speed and high volume can turn tripe into treasure.

Hey—her father thought we’d be greeted as liberators.

A family needs its dreams.

Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at rickhoro@execpc.com.

Last updated: 11:36 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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