It's official: When Dick Cheney meets the 9/11 commission, he will be accompanied by his personal chauffeur, George W. Bush. The arrangement is a coup for the commission. Eavesdropping drivers often recall details that harried execs have forgotten. "Bush," as he's affectionately called, may fill in the gaps on awkward matters which Cheney "forgets."
As Somerby says "The arrangement simply cries for parody," and Billmon has a nice skit featuring a foot-stomping, finger-twitching Cheney signaling Bush the right responses:
Kean: Commissioner Ben-Veniste, you may begin.
Ben-Veniste: Mr. President, what did you know and when did you know it?
Bush: Say what?
Ben-Veniste: (chuckles) Sorry, Mr. President. I couldn't resist that one. (clears throat, grows more serious) Mr. President, you were inaugurated as president on January 20th, 2001, were you not?
Bush: (evasive) You mean as president of the U.S. of A.?
Ben-Veniste: Yes sir, that's right.
Bush: Well, I, that is, um ... I think ... (Cheney loudly stamps his foot under the table, twice)
Bush: (carefully pronouncing each word) Yes, Commissioner, that statement is correct.
Ben-Veniste: And as president, you bear the ultimate responsibility for your administration's performance, do you not?
Bush: Responsibility? I'm not sure I like the sound of that ... (Cheney loudly stamps his foot, once.)
Ben-Veniste: (annoyed) Is something wrong, Mr. Vice President?
Cheney: It's just my foot, Commissioner. I'm afraid it's gone to sleep. (stamps it again, once.)
Bush: (slowly and precisely) No Commissioner, I must disagree with you about that.
Ben-Veniste: About what?
Ben-Veniste: You must disagree about what?
Bush: (flustered) Whatever you just said, that's what.
(Maybe, given Bush's background with the Texas Rangers, Cheney will choose to use baseball signals to communicate with his protege -- you know, wipe across the chest, tap on the head, touch the nose and chin three or four times in alternation, then clap your hands and make a "swing away" motion means: "Don't answer that question: your political life depends on it".)
Only three scenarios or explanations make sense to me.
The first -- and most generous -- explanation is that this is simply another way to further dilute the Commission's ability to ask questions.
If, say, the meeting lasts three hours, that's three hours to ask questions of both of them rather than three hours to ask questions of each -- as might be the case in separate meetings.
That wouldn't be any great coup for the White House. But it would be one more impediment to throw in front of the Commission's work, which would probably be a source of some joy for the White House.
From here the possible explanations go down hill -- in every respect -- pretty quickly.
Explanation number two would be that this is a fairly elementary -- and, one imagines, pretty effective -- way to keep the two of them from giving contradictory answers to the Commission's questions. It helps them keep their stories straight.
(It's a basic part of any criminal investigation -- which, of course, this isn't -- to interview everyone separately, precisely so that people can't jigger their stories into consistency on the fly.)
The third explanation is that the White House does not trust the president to be alone with the Commission members for any great length of time without getting himself into trouble, either by contradicting what his staff says, or getting some key point wrong, or letting some key fact slip. And Cheney's there to make sure nothing goes wrong.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.