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Did Cheney Go Too Far?
"The shameful smears of patriotic American voters by Mr. Cheney and White House apologists like Mr. Lieberman can't disguise how utterly they and their ilk have failed America. Their unspoken fear is that America is finally on to them."
One reaction to Cheney's comments was to simply write them off as irrelevant.
Senator Hillary Clinton told WNYC radio : "I don't take anything he says seriously anymore."
I'm not a Washington Post political reporter, but Jonathan Weisman is, and here's what he had to say in a Live Online discussion last week:
"Medford, Mass.: Exactly how is it that our sitting Vice President can get away with saying basically that people who exercised their constitutional right to vote for change (ie: Conn. primary) are helping terrorists? How is this not the headline of a story, instead of a footnote?
"Jonathan Weisman: The vice president also said the insurgency in Iraq is in its death throes, and that U.S. troops would be greeted as liberators. I'm afraid to say his utterances are losing their news value."
But Still a Player
And yet there is every indication that Cheney remains a seriously heavy-hitter behind the scenes.
Here's just one recent example: Helene Cooper writes in the New York Times about the travails of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who apparently was forced to stake out a position on the Middle East sufficiently unlike her own "to satisfy conservatives in the government, including Vice President Dick Cheney, who were pushing for strong American support for Israel. . . .
"On her recent trips to the Middle East, Ms. Rice was accompanied by two men with very different outlooks on the conflict: Elliott Abrams, senior director at the National Security Council, and C. David Welch, a career diplomat and former ambassador to Egypt who is assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs.
"Mr. Welch represents the traditional State Department view that the United States should serve as a neutral broker in the Middle East. Mr. Abrams, a neoconservative with strong ties to Mr. Cheney, has pushed the administration to throw its support behind Israel. During Ms. Rice's travels, he kept in direct contact with Mr. Cheney's office."
Guess who won?
Operating in Secrecy
And consider that, even as the greater press corps dutifully reports what it is told, there is an awful lot going on at the White House -- much of it revolving around Cheney -- that stays secret. Unless of course Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker is on the story.