« | »

Time Magazine Is Still Milking Cheney Shooting

You didn’t know Time magazine called the shots? Well, they seem to think they do.

From that formerly significant magazine, by way of CNN:

The shooting accident brought into focus the extent to which Dick Cheney runs an independent operation.

Readjusting their sights

Bush, Cheney have 1,000 days to get administration back on track

Monday, February 20, 2006

(Time) — For an entire week, the Bush administration has been tangled in the aftermath of the Cheney hunting accident. That might not seem like a long time, but Bush and Cheney have barely over 1,000 days left and things they want to get done.

To succeed, they need to resist as long as possible the forces that make administrations irrelevant. "Some people in the White House are worried that this will hasten the start of the formal lame-duck period, which they were hoping to put off until after the midterm elections," said a Republican official. "This showed a weakened president and a vice president in a bubble within a bubble."

And according to a new Time poll, Bush’s approval rating is lodged at 40 percent, Cheney’s at 29 percent. Bush and Cheney have little hope of driving an agenda if they are not in control of it or if they are playing defense.

What the hunting furor did, beyond occupying the airwaves for a week and stalling what momentum the president may have had, was expose in the most public way yet the extent to which Cheney runs an independent operation and raise the question of how much the White House can control him — or wants to.

Cheney makes his own rules; he decides what intelligence matters, what secrets are worth keeping and what force is worth using, and he defends his positions with a breathtaking indifference to consequences and to complaint from those who disagree. He went off to spend a relaxing — and unannounced — weekend hunting with friends who also happened to be donors and lobbyists at a time when both species find themselves under fire. And it turned into a nightmare for everyone involved.

As for critics on the Hill, a House Republican leadership aide said Cheney will remain the lawmakers’ top back channel to Bush. "A hunting accident, even with their bungling, isn’t going to change that. It’s been helpful that the press has been so obnoxious and such prima donnas. It made people here feel sorry for the White House."

Says Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina: "I’ve seen nothing in my dealings with the White House to suggest that this vice president has lost any political standing within the administration."

And everyone was relieved to see Whittington emerge from the hospital, grateful to his doctors, gracious to the press, sorry for what Cheney had been through and describing the whole thing as a "cloud of misfortune and sadness that is not easy to explain."

Actually, whatever clouds remain over the White House were not hard to explain, say those who have studied weather patterns between Bushland and Cheneyland. They have always been separate worlds, far more than the public image of a tight, disciplined team suggests.

Bushland is by instinct more reformist, more political, more female and, in places, deeply devout. Cheneyland is more Establishment, more male, more button-down, more secretive. One man came to town worried about domestic affairs; the other was focused entirely on matters foreign, although 9/11 forced a convergence.

But in recent months the internal dynamic has shifted. Through the first term, Cheney’s dominion over foreign policy was unchallenged. And while he remains the administration’s voice on national security, the ascendance of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the distraction of the CIA-leak investigation and public doubts about the handling of the Iraq occupation mean the vice president often finds himself advocating rather than orchestrating.

All these events have revived Washington’s favorite parlor game — "Who’ll replace Cheney?" — which has been played ever since he needed a cardiac procedure after two months in office, but no one who knows the president well thinks he would cut Cheney loose. His remaining in power, however, does not tell you how much power remains to him.

More than one friend who was sure Cheney would serve out his term — "barring the intervention of the Almighty," as an aide said — inadvertently spoke of the vice president in the past tense while describing Cheney’s standing. "Cheney didn’t win every battle," an official close to the vice president said as he ruminated about the wide swath his hero had once cut.

Enough people talking about him that way can only make it harder to win the next fight that comes along.

Which of course was the purpose of the ravening media coverage of this non-story.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

22 Responses to “Time Magazine Is Still Milking Cheney Shooting”

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.

« Front Page | To Top
« | »