The hallucinations of the Cheneys

Paul Schwietering
This past week Dick Cheney criticized the Obama administration for announcing plans to withdraw the last combat troops from Iraq (by withdrawing the troops, the Obama administration was fulfilling the terms of an agreement negotiated by the Bush-Cheney administration). He also stated that because a drone U.S. aircraft went down in Iran, we should bomb Iran.

The years of the Bush/Cheney administration seemed endless. Historians may rank the administration of George Bush, Jr., as the very worst in American history and justifiably so, but they will certainly rank the administration of Bush, Jr., in the bottom five. In terms of the condition the country was in at the time of inauguration and the condition the country was left in when the administration left office, the only administration that compared to the administration of George Bush, Jr., was the Hoover administration.

However, this comparison may not be fair to Hoover for a couple of reasons. First, although Hoover seemed hapless when it came to dealing with the Great Depression, he did not do anything to cause it. Although some of the deregulation that enabled the current recession to happen took place on President Clinton’s watch, much of it took place during the Bush administration with the administration’s active support.

Second, economic theory in America during Hoover’s time had not yet caught up with the Industrial Revolution and the economic realities faced by a large manufacturing nation. America had no one like John Maynard Keynes of Britain, capable of understanding the causes of the economic problems of the time and producing the solutions to those problems.

By the end of George Bush, Jr.’s, tenure in the White House he was more unpopular than Richard Nixon when Nixon resigned. However, at the end of George Bush, Jr.’s, second term there was one member of the administration whose approval rating was lower than George Bush, Jr.’s. That would be Vice President Richard “Dick” Cheney, whose approval rating was at 8 percent.

Cheney will be remembered by most people as one of the most vocal of the “chicken hawks.” The chicken hawks were people who attacked the patriotism of anyone who questioned the pretenses that were used to start the Iraq War.

The other thing the chicken hawks all had in common was that they all had managed to avoid serving in Vietnam even though all of them were the right age to serve. The Bush administration was riddled with chicken hawks. Cheney himself obtained six deferments and never went to Vietnam.

Cheney was seen at the time, and will be seen by historians, as “the most powerful Vice President in American history.” Cheney was always out front and speaking out for the administration’s most unpopular policies, such as the decision to attack Iraq. Ever since he has left office, Cheney has periodically criticized President Obama for a wide variety of his policies, but mostly for the President’s foreign policy. Given Cheney’s irrelevance, it is questionable whether or not the current administration is aware of Cheney’s disapproval. If Cheney’s remarks have any effect at all, it is probably to make Obama slightly more popular. Every tape of Cheney that I have seen since he left office seems to have originated with Fox “News,” the least credible broadcast media source in America. Study after study has demonstrated as a matter of statistical fact that Fox “News” viewers are the most misinformed people in America. Not only are they misinformed in terms of people who watch other networks, but Fox viewers consistently score lower than people who do not patronize any news source on a regular basis (broadcast or print) and rely on hearsay from friends for most of their information.

Perhaps the only person who comments on politics who is more irrelevant than Dick Cheney is his daughter, Elizabeth “Liz” Cheney. I have yet to hear of a single qualification that she has to be a television commentator on any subject whatsoever, much less foreign policy. At least Sarah Palin, for all her ignorance, was actually elected Governor of a State. Liz Cheney’s only “qualification” is, apparently, that she is Dick Cheney’s daughter.

Dick Cheney has visibly aged since he left office, and he walks with a cane. Given his remarks of last week, it seems entirely possible that he may be battling senility. Watching him evokes pity and sadness rather than anger. We see him limping along into old age, as he imagines that his remarks are committing the United States to start a war with Iran. As for Liz Cheney, the person she most reminds me of is the 2010 Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Delaware, Christine O’Donnell.

Paul Schwietering is a former Democratic state central committeeman. He lives in Union Township.