Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

You Can’t Handle the Lies!

(crossposted at The Blue Herald)

Another Froomkin item spurs me to post! What can I say, the guy is good!

In his Wednesday, 2/7/07 column, ”Cheney Doesn’t Share,” he ponders:

No Cheney Cross?

With so many new questions emerging about Cheney's conduct -- and the unique experience of watching him be cross-examined in federal court having been dangled in front of the press corps for months -- it comes as a grave disappointment that Cheney may end up not testifying after all.

But Matt Apuzzo writes for the Associated Press: "Attorneys for former White House aide I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby are backtracking on their plans to call Vice President Dick Cheney and Libby himself to testify in the CIA leak trial.

"Libby's attorneys seemed certain in December when they announced that Cheney would testify at his former aide's perjury and obstruction trial.

"But with prosecutors close to resting their case, attorneys are quietly backing away from that claim.

"In documents filed in federal court this week, Libby's attorneys said Cheney was 'potentially' a witness."

This gives me the perfect excuse to muse about Cheney on the stand. Would he lie if he was reasonably sure he could get away with it? Would he tell the truth? (How sad that the answer’s legitimately in doubt.) Cheney may well have the worst judgment of any major public official in decades, but he is smart about covering his tracks. But think about it. He’s shown he doesn’t care about his image. He doesn’t care about lying, not only to the public, but even to high-ranking members of his own administration! He doesn’t give a damn about the rule of law, due process or the Constitution. He’s ferociously in favor of torture. He doesn’t care what the intelligence says. He doesn’t care what any data says. He doesn’t care about the financial well-being of our country. (Beyond Halliburton’s no-bid contracts, Paul O’Neill relates the tale that Cheney said that “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter. [These further taxes for the rich] are our due.”) Cheney has repeatedly shown he doesn’t value transparency, yet alone any check on his power. He regularly insults his critics in extremely degrading terms (and with straw men aplenty). Most disastrously, he has consistently shown he doesn’t give a damn about learning from any of his avalanche of mistakes and misjudgments. (The Froomkin column linked above has some great tidbits on Cheney.)

Deep down, Cheney must want to let loose and tell everybody off. He must want to repeat his “Go fuck yourself” line, delivered to Senator Patrick Leahy, to Patrick Fitzgerald. He must want to tell everyone to go to hell. He’s itching for a Colonel Jessup moment, just like Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men. Can’t you see it?

FITZGERALD: Did you order Libby to leak Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity to the press?

CHENEY: You’re damn right I did! And I’d do it again! Who cares if Wilson told the truth? It made us look bad, and we had a presidential election coming up! You think junior was going to win on his merits? And who cares if I had Libby lie to that flake Judith Miller about the NIE? We had to get the message out! Russert says he doesn’t remember the conversation that way? He’ll remember whatever the hell I tell him to remember, and remember his place most of all! The Constitution clearly states I can do whatever the hell I want! I’m in charge here! Who’s going to stop me? You? You? YOU? Do any of you really got the balls to take on “Big Time” Cheney?!?

Alas, as I mentioned above, Cheney is a smart fellow — when it comes to hiding his cards, to getting away with it, with surviving. His testimony would be completely fascinating, offering valuable information for the trial, but even more valuable insight into how the most powerful Vice President in history operates. But at this point, his testimony might hurt Libby, and if so, obviously the defense will not call him. It’s unlikely he’ll have a Colonel Jessup moment. But it doesn’t hurt to dream.

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