Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Old Disappearing Act

Is it good news or bad that the President seems to be among the missing. Oh, we know where he is physically, but he has left the explanations of all the policy decisions up to the policy people he appointed. Maybe he doesn’t understand the policy decisions he, or someone in the White House has made, but at this point, I am not surprised about his absence and really, who cares.

Difficult as it is for me to say anything nice about the Administration, I do find it refreshing that there are people who serve “at the pleasure” of Mr. Bush, who are both articulate and intelligent. Mr. Paulson is quite impressive. Granted, I do not know or understand anything about the reorganization of economic institutions, but I do understand the importance of a rhetorical presentation and his was good. Additionally, General Hayden, the Director of the CIA makes a good case for what he has been doing at the CIA. And let me be perfectly clear about this, I do not know what they do at the CIA, because if I did they would have to kill me. But when I heard him speak last weekend I thought his approach to terrorism was, how should I say this, quite sensible. He talked about the importance of knowing what terrorists were up to in order to protect ourselves from the danger of another attack. But he did it in quite a patriotic and moving way. He did not sound like Cheney or Rumsfeld in his approach to the rest of the world. The “they are all trying to get us” approach to diplomacy. He did not lick his lips while he talked about attack, conquer, mutilate, disembowel, waterboard, or any of the good stuff. He talked about the survival of democracy, and in that context, why the tasks they performed at the CIA were important.

This is not to say I agree with anything he said, because this was all with regard to spying on the American public, but he was the first person who explained his position in a way that was neither threatening nor confrontational. It was a just a simple explanation of a complicated policy. It makes you miss Colin Powell, who also seems to have disappeared. I guess the humiliation of being lied to by the President and then defending the lie was too much for him. I wonder what would have happened if Connie Rice, instead of being George Bush’s policy wife, had told her impetuous head of state husband, that the war was wrong and we didn’t need to allow the killing and maiming of the nations children to continue—just because he was wrong. Her ability to tell the truth seems to have disappeared right along with her sense of justice. She must be negotiating some whopper of a job in corporate America. Although word has it she wants to be the commissioner of baseball. Keep in mind I know nothing about a great many things but…

And speaking of disappearance—which I may not have done but I meant to—where was the animus between the candidates yesterday and the day before. Or did I miss something? You’re probably going to say, but what about Bill Clinton’s tirade over the Richardson endorsement. I know it’s hard to remember this, but Bill Clinton is not the candidate. It seems Obama has moved on to better things like bowling, a college tour of Pennsylvania — where he answered questions from the students, not about his underwear, but about issues that affect them like the economy — and tuition. In his desire to be President, the realization that his target has to be McCain, seems to have become obvious. Further, he doesn’t need to get into the mud with McCain as of yet, he needs to assure people he can be a leader.

I guess Hillary was too busy answering the phone. Since it was a 3am call, she was probably too tired (additionally, no make-up or hair), to spend quality time attacking Obama—and at this point it would have to be quality time for it to make any difference. The Hillary advisor’s think this “3am call” is working. I think it’s just another way to give late night talk show hosts more material with which to ridicule her. But maybe that’s what she wants because when it appears she’s being picked on by any of the boys – be they the media, politicians, or comedians, that’s when she wins. We’ll see if it works on April 22nd.

Not that I miss him and I still have the sense that he is lurking in a dark corner waiting to pounce on discussions about international issues, but since his incredibly pithy “So” in response to questions about the war, we haven’t heard word one from the Vice President. The bigger question for those of us who remember Dick Cheney during the Ford and first Bush Presidency is, when did that pleasant guy with what seemed like a moral core, disappear and this caricature of Darth Vadar arrive. Many people think that it was when he left his job as CEO of Haliburton . The speculation is that hanging out with all those corporate “white guys” at companies like Haliburton sucked out his humanity and maybe his soul. I’m sure you will remember how uncomfortable he was during the last election when he had to come to terms with the public outing (media inquiries) about his lesbian daughter. He insisted he loved her, which I’m sure or at least I hope he does, but he insisted that her life choices were not choices he would allow for the rest of the country. And just who is he to think he should be allowed to make choices for the rest of the country. There’s the rub, as most of my pirate friends would agree. The pirates also agree that we don’t want the government making choices about how we live our lives. Where’s the threat to humanity if people who love one another want to marry or even pick their noses.

When I met the Cheney’s in the 80’s Lynn Cheney, the now second lady (I guess that’s what you would call her if you didn’t want to say dirty words), wife was an assistant producer for the Mark Shields (a former Udall campaign manager and presently a liberal TV commentator and Washington Post columnist) at the Maryland PBS station. I was a guest on the show and afterward she asked me if she could write a piece about my adventures. The article was later published in important journals like the American Airlines magazine. But she was a warm, pleasant, smart person, who if not ever a close friend, certainly a kind of Washington buddy. Talk about disappearing. When did Frankenstein and his bride take the place of these seemingly lovely people. They are a perfect example of power corrupts or maybe money and power corrupt or maybe take care of your friends and they’ll take care of you. You, unlike the President may have noticed the price of gas and cost of the war. How much money, is enough to buy back your soul. I for one prefer the Bill Gates, Warren Buffett approach to money and power.

There is good news about disappearing. It appears, earmarks for Congressional pet projects are going to disappear for at least a year. This is bad news for lobbyists and Cong. Murtha—who has turned the district he represents in Western Pennsylvania, into a place with a plethora of government funded projects. But it’s good news for taxpayers who have built bridges to nowhere in Alaska and funded studies about the difference in wine drinking in restaurants in cold and warm weather climates. Not that wine drinking is a bad thing, but it’s not up there with cancer research, finding a cure for the common cold or the feeding children programs.

Where is the abra-cadabra in our lives? It would be great to be a magician and decide what else disappears, but I can wait until until next November.


Anonymous said...

Your statement about Cheney's missing moral core reminds me of a wonderful statement--I just wish I could remember who said it about whom. The statement is: "He lost his moral compass when Roy Cohen died." I guess we're both just old enough to get it.

Unknown said...

Perceptive as always, Iris. I'm going to respond off the topic, though, by ranting about Mark Penn. I know it's possible that Sen. Clinton did not know his firm represented Colombia. Burson-Marsteller is a huge outfit. But, darnit, I care much more that they represent Blackwater, the group that is mercenerazing (my newest word) our military as quickly as possible. How do such things get beyond her or her senior staff or, dare I mention him?, her husband.
On the other hand, as an Obama supporter, I appreciate the mess he made of her campaign. But, wait...didn't he protest a few weeks ago that he was not the main "strategist," which is the position he just "quit"?
One last rant. The Clinton campaign will keep him on as an "adviser" and pollster. Well, gee, that makes me feel better. We know folks who do those jobs, especially polling, have no influence on campaigns and make absolutely no money.
Just had to fuss, and knew this was a place I could do it.

Iris&David said...

As always you add spice to the bland. And are right on.