04 July 2007

Compare & Contrast: Cheney and Skateboarders

Compare and contrast how this country handles those who snub their noses at the law. In exhibit A, we have kids who ignore the law about skateboarding. You can see in this video the violent reaction of cops. In exhibit B, we have Cheney who ignores the laws about transparency in the conduct of his office. You see in this editorial the capitulation to his unreasonable defiance.

Exhibit A (thanks to Thomas):

Exhibit B:
Has he gone too far?
[Taken in its entirety from The Week]

Dick Cheney has his own special way of dealing with the rules that apply to everyone else, said USA Today in an editorial. “He just ignores them.” In just the latest example of a long series of “arrogant” decisions, Cheney is refusing to obey President Bush’s Executive Order 12958, which compels White House personnel to regularly inform the National Archives about material they’ve classified. Newly released documents show that Cheney’s office is claiming that he’s not an “entity within the executive branch” and so is not governed by Bush’s order. Since the vice president also serves as president of the Senate, Cheney argues, he belongs to neither the executive branch nor the legislative—and thus is not bound by the rules of either.

Even for our famously secretive vice president, said Maureen Dowd in The New York Times, this is a breathtaking, “new level of gall.” Not only is he saying he’s above the law, but that he functions on “his own dark planet—a separate entity from the White House.” The man is beyond parody, said Aziz Huq in The Nation. To keep the public from knowing what he’s doing behind the scenes, Cheney has made “extravagantly petty claims of secrecy.” Claiming executive privilege, he’s refused to let Congress or the public know what energy-industry and Christian right figures he’s met with in shaping the administration’s policies. Then, when the federal Information Security Oversight Office tried to get him to obey Executive Order 12958, he tried to abolish that agency. “If it weren’t so frightening, the irony would be delicious.”

There’s a method to Cheney’s madness, said Barton Gellman and Jo Becker in The Washington Post. By remaining completely behind the scenes while exerting enormous influence over President Bush, Cheney has made himself the most powerful vice president in history. It was Cheney who decided that the Geneva Conventions should not apply to captured terrorists, instituted interrogation tactics that many consider torture, and insisted that the administration could monitor phone calls and e-mails without warrants. Yet for all the policy that flows across his desk, “almost nothing flows out.” Cheney won’t reveal the size, much less the names, of his staff. Cheney also stamps everyday documents Treated As: Top Secret/SCI and locks most of his paperwork in “man-size Mosler safes.”

Cheney is probably the only politician in Washington who doesn’t give a damn what people think of him, said Jonah Goldberg in National Review Online. Unlike most people, “I love that.” He doesn’t pander to the press or the public; he simply does what he thinks is right. But as one of the few Cheney fans left, even I think he’s gone overboard. His argument that he’s not part of the executive branch is “goofy on its face,” and only makes a wounded White House look even worse. Cheney may not care that “millions of Americans think he’s a comic-book villain,” but his unpopularity is now dragging the entire administration down.

Many other Republicans have come to the same conclusion, said Sally Quinn, also in The Washington Post. They see Cheney as so “toxic” that they are whispering about begging Bush to replace him with a more palatable No. 2—someone like Fred Thompson. It’ll never happen, said Michael Currie Schaffer in The New Republic. First of all, Bush would never cut him loose. Second, the beauty of Cheney’s extravagant refusal to abide by any rules is that, on one level at least, it works. Cheney’s crazy, everybody says. So what else is new? After a few days or weeks, the furor dies down, and Cheney goes on making his own rules—unembarrassed and unrepentant.

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