Democrats & Liberals Archives

Cheney's law: a look into the mind of a madman

If anyone caught Frontline’s (link) horrifying portrayal of Dick Cheney’s maniacal assault on this nation’s democracy, you would have, like me, lay awake last night wondering just where the Vice Present hid the microphones.

Frontline began with Cheney's fixation with secrecy. How he never writes anything down. How he refrains from email and voicemail at every chance. And how, like Batman, wants to work in the shadows of the dark night and disappear without a trace; without a paper-trail.

" Secrecy is sort of the heart and soul of everything they want to do from almost the very beginning." - Jack Goldsmith Assistant Attorney General, Office of the Legal Council 2003-2004

The show details how Cheney's obsession with expanding the executive branch into an all-knowing, all-encompassing power station was Mr. Cheney's main goal. Following Cheney from Nixon through GWB, Frontline makes an implied reference that Cheney chose GWB rather than the other way around.

The show continues by describing, in brutal terms, how Cheney and David Addington (link) are the true wizards in Bush's Oz. How the man behind the curtain is a maniacal genius hell-bent on warping his view of how he thinks America's democracy should be portrayed and how he thinks the government should be run.

" they came in, spurred by Dick Cheney, to have an enlarged sense of the presidency, to have a penchant for secrecy, to basically have a view that the Congress, in effect, works for us, not with us; that we're the lead branch, not a co-equal branch. -- David Gergen

From an academic or even a mystery-writer perspective, this type of back-office manipulation of the government is somewhat exciting. Watching it, I had a similar reaction when I watched old films like Advise and Consent or The Manchurian Candidate. Unfortunately, for us, this is real.

The warping of this democracy began shortly after Cheney took office in 2001 and he won't stop, evidently, until the President of the United States has all the power of the dictators that they overthrow.

It's available online to watch. (pbs) If you dare.

Posted by john trevisani at October 17, 2007 2:56 PM
Comment #236338

John, too bad Cheney doesn’t want the presidency. That would give liberals another 8 years of exile and wailing in the wilderness. Anything political on PBS is likely to be pro-left and present a jaundiced view of the subject. Would you bother watching a Fox News special on Dick Cheney or believe anything they presented?

Posted by: Jim at October 17, 2007 6:32 PM
Comment #236339

Jim, i’m not sure what you’re trying to say. Are you saying that the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) is pro-left and therefore presents a ‘jaundiced view’ or a bias against Cheney?

Did you watch the piece?

Did you see list of people that was interviewed? Did you see that Yoo, Goldsmith and Berensmith were key interviews?

i’m curious about what you thought after you saw the piece.

Posted by: john trevisani at October 17, 2007 6:49 PM
Comment #236340

Jim, Which report, of any subject, would you believe, FNC or PBS/NPR. PBS/NPR does give both side of about every issue, you can not say that from FNC.

Posted by: C.T. Rich at October 17, 2007 7:01 PM
Comment #236342

Frontline goes into much more depth on an issue than FOX News ever will. It is a superb show. Branding it as pro-left and therefore of no merit is a classic example of bias.

BTW - Cheney doesn’t want the presidency cause he never could get elected if he tried. Better to be the puppet-master.

Posted by: chris2x at October 17, 2007 7:35 PM
Comment #236343

PBS/NPR in my opinion are about as one-sided as the BBC in England. I do enjoy their presentations when they are not on a political topic. I do watch Fox, NBC, ABC, CBS and CNN. Of all these, Fox is by far the most balanced and believeable. Just my opinion, and I don’t expect many on this blog to agree. But then, we don’t agree on much. I am a conservative, John Kennedy type of Democrat who has been left behind by the party. If you really want to know my thoughts, read Democrat Senator Zell Millers New York Times Bestseller book, “A National Party No More”. I will listen to all candidates and vote for the one who best represents my conservative beliefs.

Posted by: Jim at October 17, 2007 7:47 PM
Comment #236349


Another excellent article as usual. We need to keep hammering this regime on this. There is a real danger that their coo will become entrenched. Jim, Fox balanced and believable - unbelievable.

Posted by: Ray Guest at October 17, 2007 8:44 PM
Comment #236350

i have not watched any documentary-style report from FNC, so i certainly can’t comment on their fairness to the content. But Frontline, i find, will take a controversial topic and produce an investigative report on the topic. They post their journalistic standards for all to see ( i couldn’t find one on FNC. If you can point me to their standards, i’ll read them.

It’s quite common to go after the messenger rather than the message. In this case, you’re going after the credibility of PBS (in this case WGBH in Chicago) without watching the piece. If you had watched the piece, identified areas of inconsistencies and listed those problem areas as evidence of WGBH’s obvious bias, then your argument would have more credibility.

Frontline’s piece is disturbing to me. i believe in this style of democracy. Where there are checks and balances. Where there are separate but equal branches of government. For me, anyone trying to dismantle America’s form of government to give unfettered power to a particular branch, in this case, the executive branch, should be scorned, not adorned.

i wonder if you would feel the same way if it were the Clinton presidency using the Cheney tactics for executive power.

Posted by: john trevisani at October 17, 2007 9:24 PM
Comment #236361

john t., if one looks at Cheney’s actions and behavior from the point of view of a president of a privately held corporation, bearing in mind that the office of president is different due to its high level of scrutiny and critique, if one wants to rule as a private owner in a public position, one must act as Cheney has acted.

The closest thing to god-like power in America is a parent and president of a privately owned corporation. They can control dissent, act punitively toward criticism, and act without consideration of others, pretty much as they please. Dick Cheney’s actions in public office and within the Republican Party are easily explained by the goal of achieving this kind of power in the White House and exercising it without the kind of dissent, critique, and resistance which normally accompany the office.

The Achille’s Heel of Dick Cheney’s efforts are his failure to take to heart the warning issued by Abe Lincoln: You can fool all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but, you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. A wisdom GW Bush could not even remember how to say, let alone comply with.

I have written previously that it was apparent to me prior to the 2004 reelection that Bush was selected by persons in the Party for his limited capacity, which would keep him dependent upon his advisers, thus allowing the advisers to take actions for which Bush would be held responsible. If you know your wielding of power will be illegal and unconstitutional, what better protection than to place a dupe in the seat of accountability, while pulling his strings in the background?

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 17, 2007 10:15 PM
Comment #236365

Now is the time for congress to activly re-assert its authority to among other things wage war. They should immeditely declare there will be no funding for any more undeclared wars whatsoever. This is well within their provence to do.That means no funding or legitamation for any attack on Iran.
This regime is getting short. We should expect the worst.

FNC vs PBS ? If you want fantasyland try the Cartoon Network.

Posted by: BillS at October 17, 2007 10:41 PM
Comment #236368

BillS, the appropriate form for Congress to take, is a resolution that the Congress will not fund any military units to attack any other nation that the Congress has not been appraised of, and given assent to, save retaliatory and defensive counter-attack toward those attacking the U.S. homeland or U.S. forces outside of Iraq.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 17, 2007 11:18 PM
Comment #236372

In all fairness to Frontline and those who did not watch this broadcast, the subtitle “a look into the mind of a madman” was not part of the original Episode title. It very well could have been, and would have been fitting.

It’s misguided to suggest that an investigation of any quality or insight should not have a particular bias or viewpoint, it’s what makes them interesting. Most would be lulled to sleep if this type of coverage remained exactly neutral, or would be jarred to discomfort if it jumped wildly between viewpoints.

In my opinion Frontline does sit to the left on the political spectrum, but they follow the very best examples of keeping their own commentary to a minimum and allowing the voices of those involved to be heard.

For those who missed it and are interested, it will be rebroadcast:

Thu 10/18 2:00 am
Thu 10/18 10:00 am
Sat 10/20 1:00 pm

Posted by: DOC at October 17, 2007 11:35 PM
Comment #236374

David R. Remer-I like the way you “view the problems

of George W. Bush an Dick Chaney, an placed them in

proper perspective.” I am hopeful, many others will

place their personal biases aside, an seek new

solutions, when they go into the voting booth.

Posted by: -DAVID- at October 17, 2007 11:49 PM
Comment #236379

Anyone who believes that Fox News Channel is “Fair and Balanced” must have no idea of what is actually is going on or must be living on the same planet that the Occupant of the White House and his Bushies live. That is why many people call it “Fixed Noise Crap.”

Now back to our Vice President. For a man who has given many years in public service it saddens me that he believes that Bush and he are above all laws, all treaties and the Constitution of the United States. Not only will Bush be considered the worse President in history but Cheney will be, hands down, the worse Vice President. Cheney makes Agnue look like a statesman.

Posted by: C.T. Rich at October 18, 2007 12:25 AM
Comment #236381

ps: Where is this “liberal media” that the neocons always cry about? I guess it like judges that rule in favor of our Constitution are “activitist judges.”

Posted by: C.T. Rich at October 18, 2007 12:29 AM
Comment #236392

Mr. Cheney & Mr. Bush are not CEOs of the United States. They are elected representatives sworn to uphold and defend the very constitution that Cheney wishes to circumvent. It is every American’s responsibility to uphold and defend the constitution against its obvious attacks.

If Frontline did a piece on Bill Clinton’s bastardization of democracy, FNC would run out of ticker screen space on their channel.

Posted by: john trevisani at October 18, 2007 7:35 AM
Comment #236403

It is congress that declares war. Without that terms like “ascent “,”allow” are demonstrably dangerious latitudes given the executive branch.An actual declaration has the gravity to require close scrutiny and triggers numerious military treaties with our allies that will not allow foolish imperial adventures like the Iraq invasion.
There is a third brach of government. The Supreme Court is largely responsible for the ascent of the corporate fascist enclave,s siezure of power and it has been packed even more so by same. When the Dems have the legal and political ability to do so they should not just wait for the openings to appear,as the Bush apointees were selected partly for their youth,but vote to increase the number of justices. Otherwise the needed reforms will be consistently overturned.

Posted by: Bills at October 18, 2007 10:48 AM
Comment #236430


This Frontline special actually has a heartening element. True conservatives in the federal government stood up. Jack Goldsmith, Comey and others at Justice, as well as Mueller at the FBI all stood up to Cheney, Card, Gonzales, Bush, and Addington when it came down to reauthorizing the wire-tap program.

But I especially want to single out John Ashcroft who although gravely ill sat up in his hospitable bed and according to Goldsmith gave an incredibly powerful defense of the Justice department and the Constitution. I may not agree on a single other thing with Ashcroft but here was certainly a man of principal who defended the law.

Posted by: chris2x at October 18, 2007 4:07 PM
Comment #236441

Absolutely correct!

i never, in my wildest dreams, would have thought that i would support Ashcroft in any way shape or form.

But his actions during this period warrants commendation. i felt so moved by what i heard from this piece about Ashcroft, that i actually considered writing him a thank you letter.

Posted by: john trevisani at October 18, 2007 5:26 PM
Comment #236507

If the PBS producers were right-wing partisans instead of left-wing partisans, we could have had a show about disturbing unconstitutional attempts on the part of certain judges and legislatures to illegally seize for themselves the powers given by the Constitution to the Executive Branch. Perhaps we’d even have had Cheney painted as a hero for his attempts to preserve the rightful role of one of the coequal branches of government.

But oh well. We’ll likely see just such a PBS program if there is a Democratic president some day.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at October 20, 2007 12:29 AM
Comment #236526

Loyal Opposition- I am afraid who ever holds the

paint brush, Cheney will still be painted as a

power grabbing, troll witch that has exceeded his

position, an has totally contaminated the rule of

Law, above an beyond, that of a Dictator.

Posted by: -DAVID- at October 20, 2007 4:08 PM
Post a comment