DECONSTRUCTING DICK….It’s hard to remember now, but during the first few years of the Bush administration Dick Cheney was widely viewed as a wise old man, the steady hand at the Bush tiller. As we’ve been reminded repeatedly in the past few weeks, that conventional wisdom is laughable now — but if you had been subscribing to the Washington Monthly back in 2002, you would have read Josh Marshall’s “Vice Grip” and you would have known just how laughable it was even back then:
Why, though, has the press failed to grasp Cheney’s ineptitude? The answer seems to lie in the power of political assumptions….It doesn’t take long for a given politician to get pegged with his or her own brief story line. And those facts and stories that get attention tend to be those that conform to the established narrative. In much the same way, Cheney’s reputation as the steady hand at the helm of the Bush administration — the CEO to Bush’s chairman — is so potent as to blind Beltway commentators to the examples of vice presidential incompetence accumulating, literally, under their noses. Though far less egregious, Cheney’s bad judgment is akin to Trent Lott’s ugly history on race: Everyone sort of knew it was there, only no one ever really took notice until it was pointed out in a way that was difficult to ignore. Cheney is lucky; as vice president, he can’t be fired. But his terrible judgment will, at some point, become impossible even for the Beltway crowd not to see.
Josh has since gone on to build a blog empire over at TPM Cafe, but you can still read this kind of reporting ten times a year in the Washington Monthly. So subscribe and stay ahead of the curve! The stuff we publish today won’t be in the New York Times until next year.