The Sept. 11 commission reported yesterday that it has found no "collaborative relationship" between Iraq and al Qaeda, challenging one of the Bush administration's main justifications for the war in Iraq.
Along with the contention that Saddam Hussein was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, President Bush, Vice President Cheney and other top administration officials have often asserted that there were extensive ties between Hussein's government and Osama bin Laden's terrorist network; earlier this year, Cheney said evidence of a link was "overwhelming."
I've been too hard on Dick Cheney. Once, I even went so far as to call him one of the three stooges of the apocalypse. But it turns out that I've been wrong. Dick Cheney is just a man easily overwhelmed, a sensitive soul prone to hide in undisclosed locations when he becomes emotional.
Look at his picture. It is easy to label the man as angry or hostile. One is tempted to discount his mis-read on Iraq as an inevitable outcome for a man who listens to his gut, an organ that must be perpetually in turmoil, feeding him a string of curses that would make even a drunken sailor blush. ("No, I don't have data. But my gut tells me that Iran has a secret weapon that will make our boys in uniform begin to feel oddly attracted to each other.")
But look again at that expression. Think about a man who finds even a paucity – no, an imagined dollop - of data to be "overwhelming." It is hard not to see this face as one about to collapse into tears, or perhaps cries of fright. It is rare that such sensitive souls make it to such lofty positions of power. It is time that we see Dick Cheney for who he really is. Dick Cheney is a beacon of hope for every child who has found himself crouched beneath his desk in reaction to moving poetry or reports of starvation. Easily overwhelmed, yet unafraid of power.
I feel like such a cad. I am overwhelmed with regret.