The Imperial Vice President

Discussion in 'Politics' started by ZZZzzzzzzz, Feb 19, 2006.

  1. The Imperial (Vice) Presidency
    Since Cheney doesn't have a real chance of moving up, he felt he could change the rules.

    By Jonathan Alter

    Feb. 27, 2006 issue - Fox News's exclusive interview with Vice President Dick Cheney was, as CNN's Jack Cafferty sniped, "like Bonnie interviewing Clyde," but Brit Hume posed some good questions. When asked if he still thinks after everything that happened that he handled the story the right way, Cheney replied, "I still do." To me, this was the most revealing part of the whole episode. Cheney believes in what might be called partisan accountability—you answer only to your own side, on your own terms, not to the jackals of the mainstream media.

    This is standard in show business, where errant celebrities choose Larry King or other friendly venues to spin their stories. Through the 1920s, presidents also privatized their damage control. President Herbert Hoover would talk to his friend Will Irwin and one or two other friendly journalists, but otherwise answer only a few questions submitted in writing. Then, in 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted twice-weekly press conferences and transformed the idea of accountability in Washington. Politicians have felt obligated to accept the press as proxy for the public ever since. President Nixon had to put up with Dan Rather, President Reagan with Sam Donaldson. Bill Clinton learned the hard way that presidents don't get a private life.

    Before Walter Mondale became the first consequential vice president of the modern era in 1977, no one much cared if the No. 2 wanted to stiff the press. FDR's first veep, John Nance Garner, said the vice presidency "wasn't worth a pitcher of warm piss." (When a reporter changed "piss" to "spit" for taste reasons, Garner called him a "pantywaist.") But in the last three decades, vice presidents have steadily gained power. Their taxpayer-funded traveling retinues have become so large (Cheney even travels with his own medical team) that pretending to be normal citizens wouldn't wash. When Al Gore said there was "no controlling legal authority" on his fund-raising, it was at a hostile press conference, not an interview with The Harvard Crimson.

    Cheney has simultaneously expanded the power of the vice presidency and reduced its accountability. Because his health made him the first veep since ancient Alben Barkley (under Harry Truman) with no realistic chance of moving up, he felt he could change the rules. Fears of terrorism made his decision to go to an "undisclosed location" understandable, but he has taken secrecy about his whereabouts to inexplicable lengths. News organizations went along with this partly to save money by not sending reporters to cover his trips. They rationalized it by explaining that Cheney never said anything to reporters anyway.

    So Cheney has quietly figured out how to avoid answering the messy questions that are a vital part of a modern democracy. His message to the Washington press corps is the same as the one he delivered to Sen. Patrick Leahy in the Senate cloakroom, when the Democrat had the temerity to criticize him: "Go f--- yourself." By not holding a press conference since 2002, Cheney is telling the men and women assigned to cover the White House that they are irrelevant. No wonder they went crazy after learning of the shooting accident from a Texas paper.

    When Cheney shot his friend and the press fired back, the battle for the future of the political coverage was joined. Was his contempt for the "MSM" (mainstream media) so over the top that it will create a backlash against future White House efforts to keep reporters at bay? Or perhaps we are witnessing a variation on the "K Street Project," where congressional Republican leaders would deal only with lobbyists loyal to the GOP. We'll see how Sean Hannity likes it when a future Democratic president or vice president gives interviews only to NPR and The Nation.

    You can understand why politicians chafe under the old rules of the MSM. The media often focus on relatively unimportant, easy-to-understand stories as metaphors for shortcomings that the normal conventions of the business (and the inattentiveness of the audience) make hard to convey. When reporters wanted the public to see Jimmy Carter was being swamped politically, they focused on how he was attacked on vacation in a canoe by a "killer rabbit." When the press believed that Reagan was tilting toward the rich with his hard-to-explain tax policy, Nancy Reagan's acceptance of expensive White House china briefly became an issue. These feeding frenzies are unattractive, but the alternative is worse—reporters knowing an important truth about politicians and not letting the public in on it.

    The shooting could hardly be a better metaphor for Cheney. It neatly packages his faulty judgment, insularity and arrogance in a story that is not cataclysmic on its own terms but will prove hard to forget. That's too bad for Cheney, and certainly for Harry Whittington. But it is a blessing for anyone hoping to restore some accountability to a government that increasingly believes it is a law unto itself.
  2. Tony Blankley got it exactly right. We have dozens of momentus issues facing the country, eg Iranian nukes, terrorism, islamic repression, out of control budget, and what does the media focus on? A minor hunting accident involving the vice president and one of his best friends. As much as the mainstream media desperately wants to pretend otherwise, this is not Watergate II.

    The increasingly irrelevant old style media are having trouble coming to grips with the fact that they are no longer particularly important or able to control the public. I f they were, Kerry would be president.

    As for Democrats going on O'Reilly or Hannity, they are afraid to do so now. They will only sit for interviews with the safe leftwing media. Why should Republicans play by different rules?
  3. Pay attention to the "new style" media, the bloggers.

    They are not letting go of this story either.

    As far as comparing a press conference, where the Vice President would be in control, could spend as much or as little time as he wants to going on Hannity or O'Idiot....that is laughable.

  4. cock is afraid to be interviewed by chris mathews or katie couric.
    he went on the facist news channel caused he know he is rt at home. no wonder abc news fired brit the stonefaced hume.
  5. We didn't have any other pressing issues when the press and Congress salivated all over the fact that the President had been playing "Hide the Havana" with an intern? I suppose Congress didn't have anything else on the agenda than to hold hearings on what the President had been doing with his dick?

    I know, a high ranking political figure almost killing someone isn't nearly as entertaining, is it?

    Who in their right mind would agree to an "interview" with a journalist that will continuously interrupt you? With all the constant shouting and badgering, FOX news is a joke. Its the news delivered in the same format as Jerry Springer and wrestling.

    Granted the other journalists on this latest issue haven't behaved any better, but ALL of them have been guilty of continuously focusing on the wrong side of the issue and not asking the right questions:

    1) The Vice-President goes nowhere without a mob of Secret Service Agents. A group of professionals that are trained and paid to have "eyes on" any given situation doesn't notice someone leaving a hunting group and then returning?

    2) Finding a bird carcass in an overgrown field can be an exercise in futility. People that hunt quail do not ordinarily enjoy taking the time to kick the weeds to find their kill. Thats why they usually use dogs. This particular hunting party decided not to use them? Why?

    3) Mr. Whittington was shot because he had the sun to his back when he was returning to the hunting party in the opposite direction in which the party was sweeping the field for quail. Mr. Cheney didn't see Mr. Whittington because of this, but he could see his prey well enough to squeeze off a shot?

    4) Quail fly extremely low when they are startled. Anyone that has ever hunted them knows that to sweep a field with the sun in their face is just plain stupid. Its just a matter of common sense to change the direction of the sweep so one's view of the prey will not be impeded by the setting sun. Why did this group continue to move in that direction?

    5) Law enforcement officers are taught to never "take the word" of a caller purely for the sake of their own safety as well as the interests of the victim. A call involving a shooting of any type is to be taken with extreme caution and acted upon immediately. The police don't show up until the next day for this one? Or was the call not placed until the next day? Either way, its not an appropriate way to handle the situation by one party or the other. What was the time line and details of the call placed for this incident?

    A lot of shit doesn't add up for the explanations that were given. There are quite a few questions that need to be asked in response to the details (or lack of) for this incident. As usual, in regards to this administration, either noone is asking or they ask all the wrong questions.