10/12/2005

Attytood: Fun with Dick and George: The biggest story of 2005 is hiding in plain sight

No one in the mainstream media seems to be working on this, but the big story -- the one that could dramatically change the course of the next three years -- is right under their collective noses.

Dick Cheney and George W. Bush don't like each other anymore.

And a war between these two superpowers could be the political version of MAD: Mutually assured destruction. But this time, the fallout could make America better in the long-run.

Or not.

What hard, inside information do we have? None. The evidence is circumstantial, but it is getting stronger by the day. And you don't need the National Weather Service to know which way the wind's blowin'.

Sometime this summer, the vice president all but disappeared off the face of the earth. This time, not to his undisclosed location, but mainly to his retreat in Wyomng. You may recall that even when Hurricane Katrina caused the biggest crisis in Washington since the start of the invasion of Iraq, Cheney was not seen for days.

At first, there was just speculation. Earlier in September, Nora Ephron wondered aloud on the Huffington Post why Cheney had been absent from the initial days of the Katrina fiasco. She speculated there was lingering resentment from the incident in May of this year when a private plane strayed too close to the White House: Cheney was rushed to a bunker while a bicycling Bush wasn't informed, even though his wife was in the White House at the time, Ephron compared Cheney to "the dog that did not bark" and wrote:

So I can only suppose that something has gone wrong. Could the President be irritated that Cheney helped con him into Iraq? Oh, all right, probably not. Could Cheney – and not just his aides -- possibly be involved in the Valerie Plame episode? Is Cheney not speaking to Karl Rove? Does the airplane/bicycle incident figure into this in any way?

A few days later, Jeralyn Merritt over at TalkLeft moved the story from the land of speculation into the arena of gossip. Cheney had told a friend that he was tired of Bush's screw-ups:

A few months ago, I heard of a lunch conversation that Cheney had with a political type in Wyoming. I have no idea if it's true or not, but it makes some sense. Here's the tale:

Cheney has been getting tired of being called upon to fix Bush's mistakes. Cheney said Bush is almost incapable of making any decision. He waffles and waffles. Then, once he makes a decision, he refuses to change it. Because of his born-again faith, he says "It's in the hands of G-d now" and washes his hands of it. Then Cheney is called in to repair the damage.

If this story is even remotely true, this may have been the final straw for Cheney, and he decided to let Bush try to wiggle his way out of his Katrina inaction on his own.

Perhaps. We believe the two have fallen out, and the issue involved is a much more pressing one: Who's to blame for the Valerie Plame CIA-outing scandal, which is threatening right now to topple either Bush's closest aide, Karl Rove, or Cheney's closest aide, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, or both.

Here's the best history and timeline of the Plame scandal that we have read so far. It points to a 2004 article by Joe Wilson that lays out the origins of the tension between POTUS and the veep:

Apparently, according to two journalist sources of mine, when Rove learned that he might have violated the law, he turned on Cheney and Libby and made it clear that he held them responsible for the problem they had created for the administration. The protracted silence on this topic from the White House masks considerable tension between the Office of the President and the Office of the Vice President.

And that was a year ago. Now, it's starting to remind us of Watergate, and that famous Time cover with all the president's men in the Nixon White House pointing fingers at each other. The latest report is that the Bush administration is becoming more balkanized, with Rove on the outs and chief of staff Andrew Card and communications chief Dan Bartlett -- not one of the sharpest tools in the political shed -- guiding Bush.

And where in the world is Dick Cheney? His location is more undisclosed than ever. Raw Story has the latest:

Vice President Dick Cheney was noticeably absent from a landmark dinner held last Thursday for the 50th anniversary of the conservative National Review magazine, Roll Call will report in Tuesday editions, RAW STORY can reveal...

While guests raved about the gourmet food served at the National Review’s 50th anniversary party Thursday night, they couldn’t take their minds off who wasn’t there: Vice President Cheney. His absence dredged up the question that dominated the blogosphere in recent months: Where’s Dick?

“Not here,” was the short answer. “Scheduling conflict,” the party line.

What does it all mean? Well, the good news that the information monolith that is the White House may fall apart as the different factions duke it out. Remember, Valerie Plame isn't the only secret this administration holds, and it isn't the biggest one, either. Where will an aggressive prosecutor take all the finger pointing? Who knows?

The downside is the White House isn't the place where you want a power vacuum, either. With anything from North Korea to the avian flu to the next hurricane ready to break out at any moment, you don't want two hands on the same button.

Hopefully, some news organization that covers the White House will get to the bottom of this. Maybe the New York Times, as soon as they finish their Judy Miller opus -- any day now.

Attytood: Fun with Dick and George: The biggest story of 2005 is hiding in plain sight

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