Sunday, May 20, 2018
Opinion

Ruth: Lies, damn lies, and Dick Cheney

What could have been an abysmal week for a possible long-shot Democratic presidential candidate, former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, turned out to be only a semi-catastrophic gaffe when a more prominent public figure managed to say something even more addled.

But then one can always count on former Vice President Dick Cheney — the political patron saint of "What, me worry?" simple-mindedness — to utter something so ridiculous to make all other efforts at linguistic gerrymandering pale in comparison.

It was Schweitzer who offered up this keen observation the other day: "How do I say this … men in the South are a little effeminate," which eliminated him as a viable presidential candidate at least below the Mason-Dixon Line.

Normally, this sort of mumbling by a potential presidential candidate would have kept the 24-hour news cycle, not to mention the Bravo Network, on hyper-overdrive.

But Schweitzer was quickly surpassed by Cheney, the Baghdad Bob of the West Wing, who along with his daughter Liz, opined in the Wall Street Journal about President Barack Obama's handling of the current implosion in Iraq that (spit-take warning): "Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many."

One wonders if the Cheneys' lips were moving as they wrote that sentence. But we digress.

Flail away at Obama's approach to Iraq, from the timing of the withdrawal of troops to his deliberations in coming to the aid of Sad Sack Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as ISIS insurgents swarm the country. Fair enough. But let us not forget Cheney was wrong about — everything.

The United States would be welcomed as liberators rather than occupiers? Wrong.

The predicate for going to war in Iraq was that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction? Wrong.

The occupation of Iraq would be short-lived and largely paid for with appropriated oil revenues? Wrong.

The American occupation could disband the Iraqi army and rid the government of Baathist bureaucrats and everything would still run smoothly? Wrong.

Maybe, just maybe Saddam might have had something to do with the 9/11 terrorist attacks? Wrong.

A spare, bare-bones military force would be all that would be needed to defeat Saddam and rebuild the country? Wrong.

American power would rout any lingering jihadist elements? Wrong.

But Cheney wasn't done, noting: "Terrorists take control of more territory than ever before and he (Obama) goes golfing." This from a former vice president who in February 2006, at the height of Iraq's civil war, when 1,300 people were killed, took a respite from the rigors of lying to the American people to fly off to Texas and shoot a hunting partner in the face.

How shameless was the Cheney "not me" alibi tour? Even Fox Mews, which heretofore had been a faithful media lawn jockey for the Cheney administration, couldn't keep a straight face over the ex-veep's revisionist history rivaling a Confederate Civil War re-enactor accepting General Grant's surrender at Appomattox.

When anchorwoman Megyn Kelly, Fox's equivalent of Glenn Beck in stiletto heels, challenged Cheney for his role in duping the American people into a war that cost the lives 4,500 military personnel, all George W. Bush's Renfield could come up with was: "We went into Iraq for very good reasons." And those were? Leave no oil well behind?

Cheney, the Big Daddy of Dissembling, has hardly been alone in seizing upon the crisis in Iraq to recast reputations. Paul Wolfowitz, who as deputy secretary of defense during the Bush years used to preen about being the architect of the Iraq War, now acts as if he was barely in the room as Cheney was cooking the books to launch shock and awe.

And former Bush U.N. ambassador/Yosemite Sam impersonator John Bolton has been making the rounds insisting that whatever went wrong in Iraq all occurred on Obama's watch.

Still, Cheney and his comrades of mendacity have provided a valuable reminder for us all. As George W. Bush's "Mission Accomplished" Iraqi whopper continues to attest: Truth indeed is the first and most lingering casualty of war, even long after the prevaricators-in-chief have left office — but not the airwaves.

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