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11/28/2005 Archived Entry: "Blumenthal on Cheney"
"The Long March of Dick Cheney" by Sidney Blumenthal is one of the most insightful articles I've read in months. Blumenthal opens, "The hallmark of the Dick Cheney administration is its illegitimacy. Its essential method is bypassing established lines of authority; its goal is the concentration of unaccountable presidential power." He then charts Cheney's amazing rise through various Presidencies to his current position as the premier policy maker of the United States, living up to the code name given to him by the Secret Service: Backseat. "It was in that White House [Nixon's administration] that Cheney gained his formative experience as the assistant to Nixon's counselor, Donald Rumsfeld. When Gerald Ford acceded to the presidency, he summoned Rumsfeld from his posting as NATO ambassador to become his chief of staff. Rumsfeld, in turn, brought back his former deputy, Cheney." Blumenthal explains why so many with White House or military experience -- such as Colin Powell -- have misjudged and underestimated Cheney. It is partly because they rose through the ranks by respecting established authority and Cheney respects nothing that stands in his way, preferring to sidestep or bushwhack inconvenient authority. Moreover, "his competence and measured manner are often mistaken for moderation." In fact, Cheney is a hardline ideologue.
Blumenthal concludes, "Dick Cheney sees in George W. Bush his last chance. Nixon self-destructed, Ford was fatally compromised by his moderation, Reagan was not what was hoped for, the elder Bush ended up a disappointment. In every case, the Republican presidents had been checked or gone soft. Finally, President Bush provided the instrument, Sept. 11 the opportunity. This time the failures of the past provided the guideposts for getting it right. "