Sunday, April 15, 2007

Pelosi's Visit to Syria -- Cheney Carps

"Bad behavior" says Dick Cheney

"Impudent" is too good a word to describe Cheney's "bad behavior" accusation. In German one would call it a "Frechheit." A Frechheit is several levels of opprobrium above "impudence." "Frechheit" combines "impudence" with "shameless." Cheney's remark is an example of shameless impudence.

Cheney, on the other hand, certainly kno
ws something about bad behavior. In his long and regrettable career he has shown himself a master of it. But expertise in the practice of bad behavior does not imply expertise in the theory of bad behavior. As a Harvard faculty member opposed to the appointment of Vladimir Nabokov to the faculty once sniffed, "One does not invite an elephant to teach zoology." Similarly, one does not look to Dick Cheney for informed criticism of the conduct of others.

Let us consider a short list of some examples of Vice's bad behavior:

  • He is an architect of the war in Iraq, a war in which the United States, contrary to all of its best principles and traditions, invaded and ultimately devasted a country with which it was at peace.
  • He and the President, George W. Bush, conspired to lie to the American people about the reasons for invading Iraq, namely, that Iraq was building weapons of mass destruction and that Saddam Hussein was implicated with Al Qaeda in 9/11.
  • Together with the president he participated in the decision to withdraw from the Geneva Conventions to the extent necessary to clear the way for the torture of prisoners taken in Iraq and elsewhere in the prosecution of the War on Terror.
  • He and the president, though warned in advance of the oncoming Hurricane Katrina, failed to heed the warnings and thereby paved the way for the unspeakable disaster that followed and continues to follow.
My law school classmate, Elizabeth Holtzman, in her book, The Impeachment of George W. Bush, and in her address of March 8, 2007, at the Woodrow Wilson Institute of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, has laid out the legal case for impeaching the President on the basis of this course of conduct, and, by implication, the Vice-President as well. If the case laid out by Holtzman is well-taken, and if the House of Representatives were to act upon it and carry out the impeachments, we would have the elegant result that Nancy Pelosi would be President.

The bad behavior examples listed above occurred at the level of public policy. Cheney's behavior at the personal level is similarly wretched. Take the case of Scooter Libby.

The Vice-President, whose right-hand man Libby was, undertook to gain revenge against Joseph C. Wilson for writing a report that concluded that the claim that Iraq was obtaining uranium in Niger for use in building nuclear weapons was totally bogus by "outing" Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, a CIA officer. (That Plame's CIA job status was not in any way relevant to the issue -- whether Iraq was or was not building nuclear weapons -- only illustrates how mean and small-minded was the "outing" project.) In due course, Scooter Libby, was indicted, tried and convicted of perjury committed in the course of the investigation of the outing of Valerie Plame. No one doubts that Libby took the fall for Cheney. (See the comment of one of the Libby jurors, for example.)

Libby now knows his former boss is no stand up guy: in a brilliant interview of Cheney conducted by Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation on April 15, 2007, Schieffer asked Cheney whether he had spoken to Scooter Libby since the trial. Upon receiving Cheney's negative answer on the basis that he did not want to interfere in a pending legal action, Schieffer asked:

"Have you not even called him as an old friend to express your regrets?"

To which Cheney replied:

"There has been no occasion to do that."

So much for the behavior of Richard B. Cheney, 46th Vice-President of the United States of America.

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