Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Big Dick

The Washington Post series on Dick Cheney is a testament to the power of position, knowledge and will. The articles clearly demonstrate the locus of influence in the Bush Administration and more than justify my appellation, CheneyBush, when I refer to the president. As a long time observer of government and politics, I marvel at his ability to influence policy and effectively control the decision-making process. The George W. unit may be “the decider” but, as the Post notes, the Big Dick unit makes up the menu. Not so much a puppet master as programmer and controller.

Cheney’s influence and success are nothing new. Many others have used some variation of his approach, which combines mastery of detail with organizational leverage. It’s the kind of control a strong, successful president would exercise himself through a network of trusted, dedicated assistants. In this administration, Dick Cheney performs this function while a lazy figurehead takes all the “credit” for policies implemented in the president’s name.

I make no secret of my disdain and distrust of Dick Cheney but I cannot deny his success. He’s learned the system, has gathered a coterie of sharp, intelligent people to assist him and has outplayed virtually everyone in Washington in the past six and a half years. No mean feat. Certainly not a task for the lazy, uncertain or faint of heart.

Of course, power and success are morally neutral, their worth being subservient to the purposes to which they are employed. I can appreciate the accomplishments of Franklin Roosevelt or Abraham Lincoln because of their legacies. I am less certain of Dick Cheney’s legacy, which consists largely of American aggression and contempt for the rest of the world, serious diminution of Constitutional rights and economic policies that concentrate wealth in a few at the expense of many.

Cheney is said to be wholly unconcerned with his image; he is secure in knowing that he is right. He can point to FDR and Lincoln as his companions in doing what is necessary to protect America and often reviled for doing so. Unlike FDR and Lincoln, Cheney’s actions are not a matter of necessity but rather a clear plan to change the nature of government in this nation from an open to a closed system wherein the few will decide for the many. Even worse in my opinion is that little of what he advocates actually helps this nation. Case in point: Iraq.

As I think about others who have pursued Cheney’s route to power and influence, the one model that keeps coming to mind is Joseph Stalin. That’s an ugly, brutal comparison but, like Cheney, Stalin used his position of Party Secretary to make contacts, control agendas and expand his influence. The party’s great intellect, Leon Trotsky, dismissed Stalin as a mere functionary, only to learn later that Stalin had outmaneuvered him in the battle to succeed Lenin. Cheney’s opponents have learned a similar lesson about the Office of the Vice President in the past few years.

Labels: ,


Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

the stalin comparison is very apt. cheney seems to have always been attracted to power for the sake of itself. as a chief of staff for ford he was a notorious gatekeeper, by controlling access he held control. as a defense secretary one of the few times he lost was when powell and a few of the other saner voices, like scowcroft, prevailed over cheney's "on to bagdhad" buglings. schwartzkof, in his memoir (later echoed by powell), had actually become concerned about the psychological effect, and damage that was being done to the flyers who created the "highway of death" on the road to basra. cheney wanted to tell them "toughen up" and continue the slaughter.

he never forgot, or forgave that defeat, and one of his guiding beliefs has been that had he been listened too and iraq invaded and taken down back then, the world, the mideast, and all the rest would have been much better off. he probably still feels that way.


9:33 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home