I yield the floor


I yield the floor to TPM Reader WC:

I don’t think anyone of any political stripe could seriously argue that Tim Russert pulled punches in this morning’s interview of the vice president. But even in such an unrelenting interview, he neglected an angle of inquiry that I believe is uniformly neglected in all questions posed to the vice president about his statements in the run up to the Iraq invasion.

There’s a long, long litany (and Mr. Russert did a very representative job summarizing it this morning) of public statements that Mr. Cheney made during this period that were verifiably wrong. And these statements weren’t just wrong, they were, in almost every case, forceful and unquivocal, and finger-waggingly certain.

Now, there are essentially two, if you’ll permit the oversimplification, responses to this record: 1) He was intentionally deceptive (to whatever varying degree) in the service of marketing an invasion he favored (for whatever varying reason); and 2) He was unintentionally deceptive and in each case repeated incorrect assessments he had been given and genuinely believed.

Whenever an interviewer confronts Mr. Cheney with any portion of this litany of forcefully incorrect assertions, he is permitted to reply as though he were addressing the concerns exclusively of the first group (i.e. that he was deliberately deceptive.) And he manages in this vain to acquit himself fairly capably in an intricately-parsed technical sense. . . . But, granting him that then, I would like to see an interviewer seriously call him to task on behalf of the second camp.

Is the vice-president seriously allowed to express no remorse for the fact that he was so forcefully wrong. In public. So often. On so many matters. As they pertained to pre-emptively invading a sovereign nation?

The connotation of this morning’s interview (and several others) is that because he has (to his satisfaction) demonstrated that he wasn’t lying, criticisms of his statements are without merit. Does he consider it perfectly fine to receive and repeat (and make epic policy decisions based on) incorrect advice from clearly incapable advisors over and over and, well, ‘That’s what the pros we all trust told me, so: their fault, not mine?’

I would love to hear an interviewer ask him whether or not he considers himself sufficiently capable to gather diverging assesments from sources with various agendas and arrive at actionably accurate conclusions. And furthermore what he blames for his failure to do so so frequently in the past.



David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.