DICK CAN’T HELP HIMSELF…. It’s tempting to think Dick Cheney would feel at least a little chastened right now. He helped lead a failed administration, which burdened the nation with overwhelming crises. He left office as something of a disgrace. He’s suspected of committing war crimes. His record on everything from national security to economic policy to constitutional norms is an embarrassment. His ideas and twisted ideology have been thoroughly and completely discredited.
And yet, the former Vice President just keeps talking. From his interview with CNN’s John King yesterday:
KING: There are people I assume watching this interview right now, and people in this town who would say, why should we listen to you? And they would say that because of the context of the Bush administration numbers.
They would say, you know, what did you do when you were in charge? And they have some numbers to back up their case…. When you came to office, the unemployment rate in the country was 4.2 percent, when you left it was 7.6 percent.
The number of Americans in poverty when you arrived, just under 33 million, over 37 million when you left. The number without health insurance, a little over 41 million when you came, over 45 million approaching 46 million when you left.
And you came with a budget surplus of $128 billion and in the final year, the budget deficit was a record $1.3 trillion. So what would you say to someone out there watching this who is saying, why should they listen to you?
CHENEY: Well, there are all kinds of arguments to be made on that point. But there’s something that is more important than the specific numbers you’re talking about, and that had to be priority for our administration.
Eight months after we arrived, we had 9/11. We had 3,000 Americans killed one morning by al Qaeda terrorists here in the United States. We immediately had to go into the wartime mode. We ended up with two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some of that is still very active. We had major problems with respect to things like Katrina, for example. All of these things required us to spend money that we had not originally planned to spend, or weren’t originally part of the budget. Stuff happens.
This doesn’t make any sense. The question asked about the former administration’s record. That doesn’t matter, Cheney said, because of 9/11 and Katrina — both of which, by the way, Bush/Cheney handled poorly. This is the excuse for increasing unemployment, rising poverty, families losing access to health care, and record-breaking budget deficits. Why? Because Dick Cheney says so.
What else did we “learn” from the former Vice President? He’s still disappointed about Scooter Libby not getting a pardon; he “loves” Rush Limbaugh; he sees the war in Iraq as a success story; and he’s still throwing around cheap and misleading rhetoric about the Obama administration and national security.
There are, oddly enough, still some people who find Dick Cheney credible, and believe his voice is worth listening to. I don’t know why.