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Friday, February 17, 2006

Truthiness Is Overrated

At what point do we all sit back and begin to wonder how much power Dick Cheney has accumulated in this Administration? Cheney decided that he could simply ignore all the directives coming from the White House, including apparently specifics coming from Karl Rove and Andy Card as to how and when announcements ought to be made.

Rumor has it that Cheney was supposed to do a brief presser outside the hospital on Sunday and decided not to do so -- but didn't tell anyone at the WH that he was taking a pass.

The shooting has been a PR disaster for this White House, and especially for Cheney, who has never been the "warm and fuzzy" aspect of the ticket anyway. You know you are headed down the wrong path in your reaction when both Marlin Fitzwater and Dick Morris smack you over the head with a dunce cap.

Speaking of Morris, C&L has some video of Morris on Hannity's show where Sean pretends that Cheney has never been a drinker. Guess Sean missed the interview where the Veep admitted to drinking the day of the shooting to Fox's own Brit Hume. Sean gets peeved with Morris for questioning the Veep's actions -- talk about your cult of personality politics.

Do we have one president in this country -- or two?

It is not an academic question, but one that needs to be addressed, given the substantial activity that has gone on in this VP's office and the level of secrecy under which he tends to operate. (And given his claims of being able to declassify information on his own whim, which is a national security secrets disaster waiting to happen. NPR had a great piece on this issue yesterday, and you can listen to it here.) And it is a question that policy wonks and media watchers from all sides of the aisle have started asking out loud.

The LATimes asked some tough questions yesterday regarding this Administration's failures in immediate response time in crisis situations -- and that this latest example of holding the press and the public at arm's length after Dick Cheney shot his fellow hunting companion was far too remniscent of the lack of candor and responsiveness following Katrina.
"If the buck stops with you, you are the person who has to take charge," said Leon E. Panetta, a White House chief of staff under President Clinton. "I get the impression in this White House that the buck sometimes stops everywhere else but [with] the president…. Frankly, that mentality leads to nothing but trouble."

Some senior Republicans, including top officials from previous GOP administrations, privately said they shared Panetta's views.
Sounds to me like Poppy's friends aren't so happy with the Veep these days. Especially given the fact that Junior's poll numbers continue to slide ever-downward.

E.J. Dionne hits a note that I think bears further discussion about this particular Administration: the phony populism that they have used to boost themselves with the "regular folk," as my Granny would have said, all the while knifing those folks in the back in what they are actually doing within the budget and its falsely-named initiatives.

A large number of GOP members of Congress are unhappy with this Administration's budget priorities -- especially with some of his proposed cuts as leading into the mid-term elections in the Fall. An open rebellion among some has been reported, and with the ballooning deficit and the ever-expanding gap between the poorest Americans and those on the top of the pile, the question of priorities and of who we want to be in this nation gets raised more and more.

This all ties in to the question of leadership at the top: is this President truly running things in the country -- or is he being run by those around him who have their own agendas: Karl Rove and the desire for political dominance and power; Dick Cheney and the desire for more central control over federal governmental powers and a more militarized approach to foreign policy...the list is endless in terms of the varying factions within this Administration. But with a President who has seemed detached and, at times, unresponsive entirely, the question of how much of a tin ear he has is being raised more and more.

Look at the questions we ask here regularly:

Who was behind the outing of Valerie Plame Wilson and why? It sure seems like Dick Cheney played a fairly big role in that question, just based on what we know from the Libby indictment and surrounding documentation, doesn't it?

Was the President ever truly engaged in the Katrina disaster -- or was he not to be bothered while on vacation? The latest Congressional reports on that issue are scathing, and they come from a predominantly Republican committee. (The Democratic report is even more harsh in its assessment.)

I'm hard pressed to come up with any coherent summary of our foreign policy, other than "yeehaw" clearly doesn't cut it. The fact that Condi Rice was raked over the coals this week for our dismal performance in Iraq and for being surprised by Palestinian election results and other matters in the Middle East and elsewhere hardly inspires confidence that any plan will be forthcoming with any more coherence than we are already seeing.

I'm not even sure where to start with regard to domestic policies. Between the mining disasters we've seen recently, some of which may be due to the undercutting of oversight under this Administration through to the cuts across the board in early childhood education initiatives, student loan programs, and the disaster that is Medicaid-D -- well, it's just dismal, isn't it?

Just who is in charge of this government? I'd sure as hell like to hand out a pink slip, if I could just figure out where the buck stops with this crew -- they sure do a good job of passing the buck around, don't they? Too bad it never gets to the people who actually need a hand up.

UPDATE: I'll be doing a bit with ThinkProgress Radio later this morning. Details and a link to the podcast when I get it.

UPDATE #2: Here's a link to the livestream of ThinkProgress Radio. I'll be on around 11:30 am ET this morning.