The worst news Dick

July 16, 2002 8:39 p.m.

The worst news Dick Cheney has gotten in the last week isn’t any specific revelation of wrongdoing or any news out of the SEC. It’s this series of quotes out of the current Newsweek. Halliburton CEO David Lesar told Newsweek that of course Cheney knew all about their accounting methods. Of course, he did. Point being: Don’t look for a lot of help from David Lesar. Or rather, David to Dick: We’re all in this together, buddy.

That message came through even more clearly in another passage in the article. Apparently the Vice President’s Office routinely refers Halliburton related questions to Halliburton. And they’re apparently miffed. “At some point, [Cheney] is going to have to address these [accounting] questions,” Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall told Newsweek.


A major F— You! like that doesn’t get made by a flack on the record unless the people on the inside have given the matter a lot of thought. And if the Cheney people are smart, which they are, that’s got to give them a lot of pause.

What’s striking though is how flat on his feet Cheney seems to be right now. It’s not just that you don’t see much of him. His people just don’t seem to know how to react, how to spin the situation, how to take a few questions, how to do anything. The problem I suspect is that Dick Cheney is really the von Clausewitz of political gamesmanship. All frontal attacks and massed troops and beating the enemy into the ground. He’s got none of what B.H. Liddell Hart called the “indirect approach.”

In the calculus of the Bush White House political game Cheney isn’t just the heavy. He’s the anvil. Whenever there is a hint of trouble — like when the first intelligence failure revelations came out — you can bet they’ll send out Dick Cheney to go right for the Dems’ jugular.

Cheney is like the mob goon who comes to your house, looks at you with maniacal eyes, wrings your neck with his clammy hands and tells you if you don’t cool it he’s not just gonna kill you, he’s gonna wipe out your family, knee-cap your nephew, saw your dog in half, and pour salt and bleach all over your lawn so nothing grows on it again for another hundred years.

By the time somebody gets done getting the treatment like that they don’t even remember the questions they once had the temerity to ask. Which is pretty much what you could say about the Dems more or less every time Cheney gives them a good #%$^*-slapping.

Cheney’s problem right now is that these new charges don’t really require Dems or anybody else to run with them. They speak for themselves. He’s got no one to whack. No one to attack. So he and his crew don’t know what to do.

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