Sunday, July 24, 2005

From an Undisclosed Location, a Message in a Bottle

We established (unscientifically but beyond doubt) that the undisclosed location Dick Cheney keeps retreating to (and emerging from) is not a nuclear-safe bunker, but deep within his own brain.  This most private of retreats is where he has his eureka moments and the resultant disclosures are sometimes bold and CNN-like, sometimes surreptitious. 


Those are his message-in-a-bottle connivances and because this is a conniving vice president, they are worth watching.  In yesterday’s commentary I mentioned that I could hardly wait for the ‘next exciting chapter coming down the pipeline from an undisclosed location.’ 


Little did I think it would be so soon.


Thursday evening (July 21st) our intrepid carrier-of-the-truth sat down with three runaway Republican Senators for some Cheney-style steamrollering.  John Warner, Lindsey Graham and John McCain all tried to keep straight faces and be respectful as the vp took them to the woodshed for their support of and contribution to the proposed legislation . . . it is in fact, a McCain document. 


The meeting in itself is not unusual.  The White House regularly lobbies Senators and Representatives on issues it deems important.  What is unusual is the whimsy of Cheneys message-in-a-bottle. That and the fact that these guys are all Republicans of the major-league variety.  Heavyweights, scolded by a lightweight. The legislation at issue would bar the U.S. military from engaging in . . .


  • Cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees

  • Hiding prisoners from the Red Cross

  • Using interrogation methods not authorized by a new Army field manual

. . . and the vice-presidential arm-twisting had to do with defeating that legislation (which is asking a bit much of the author). 


Cheney represents himself as four-square in favor of all of the above.


The Army, of course, has been absolutely run through the wringer by this administration insofar as its pride, honor and traditions are concerned.  Several hundred years of military code have been reduced to tatters, denigrated and dragged through the mud by the unique current relationship between a professional military and its civilian commander in chief. 


That’s never happened before. 


Presidents quite properly assert their constitutional civilian control over the military as Truman did when he fired MacArthur.  It's a pillar of our freedom from dictatorship.  But presidents have thus far managed that responsibility while simultaneously upholding the highest traditions and conduct within the services.


No more.  This president has abdicated that responsibility to the Neverland of the vice-president’s musings and strange they are.  The Army, its code of prisoner ethics and military justice in shreds, has come up with a new set of rules and limits on interrogation methods, standardizing them in a new field manual.  The Senate, outraged by being continually blindsided in a seemingly never-ending exposure of abuse, seeks to cast that policy in bronze. 


Cheney hollowly argues that such legislation would usurp the president’s authority, which is exactly what the Senators expect to do.  They can hardly wait to get on with the usurping.  He quavers that cruelty, inhumanity and degradation are the American way to protect ourselves effectively from terrorist attack. The president, shooting himself in the foot at the same time he’s trying to stamp it like an angry child, warns darkly that he will veto the $442 billion defense bill if he doesn’t get his way. 


What a laugh.  He would probably do it and then complain he doesn’t have the money to fight this personal war of his.  These two guys, Heckle and Jeckle, #1 and #2 are so far out on a testosterone-trip as to be unreachable.


McCain has been a prisoner of war.  Cheney has never been a prisoner of anything but his own ego, greed and hubris.  It must be very hard for McCain to sit and listen to such a man.


More about politics in America at my personal web site.