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Friday, June 22, 2007

Now They Notice

by digby

I really don't want to belabor this bloggy triumphalism because it is, well, unseemly. But I do have to wonder why in the hell I and other bloggers were writing about the "big story" that was all over the TV today ---- five months ago.

How can this be? Talking Points Memo, a real live journalistic endeavor, broke the story of Cheney's bizarre theory that he is a fourth branch of government accountable to no one, not even the president back on February 4th. A bunch of blogs picked it up and pontificated about it. It seemed to me like a pretty big deal:

I had always known that Cheney was running the show, but I assumed he did it purely by using the power of the executive branch and manipulation of the presdient. I had no idea that he might have secretly carved out a previously unenumerated institution that derives its power from both the legislative and executive branches. What in the hell has really been going on in this administration?

Larry Wilkerson called it a "cabal" around Dick Cheney. But it seems to have been more than that. They created a shadow government and developed a constitutional theory to support it.

The undemocratic streak in the Republican Party continues apace. Each time they get power, they seek ways to weaken the nation's understanding of what is acceptable in our democracy and what our constitution provides. (And keep in mind that it is entirely self-serving --- they will turn all of that around without a moment's thought when it suits them to challenge the opposition.)


This is important and the congress should not let it pass unexamined. The nation needs to know if some precedent has been set for making a vice-president a power center outside the commonly understood three branches of government.

It's something out of a political thriller, I know, and it's hard to wrap your arms around. But there is a part of me that wonders if it wasn't a plan. It never seemed likely to me that the big money boys of the GOP would trust their fortunes to the blithering fool they set forth as president. Let's just say that I wouldn't be surprised if some conversations before the fact took place.

Granted, it's unreasonable for me to think that any reporters read this blog, but many of them read Josh Marshall and certainly they must have read the story in US News that followed the original item several days later. It evoked a huge yawn and the rest of us finally gave up. Apparently nobody cares that the Vice president doesn't even believe her has to comply with presidential executive orders. Personally, I find that odd, and if I had been a reporter I might have asked the president if he thinks the VP answers to him or not.

Nobody gave a damn until Henry Waxman decided to issue a report that wondered why Dick Cheney was trying to shut down the agency that had crossed him. Then everyone "discovered" that Dick Cheney has created a fourth branch of government that answers to no one --- something we were talking about months ago. I don't get it.

Update: I see that Steve Benen asked the same question today. Why the delay?

Update II: Here's some ridiculous horseshit for you:

The White House said Friday that, like Vice President Dick Cheney's office, President Bush's office is exempt from a presidential order requiring government agencies that handle classified national security information to submit to oversight by an independent federal watchdog.

The executive order that Bush issued in March 2003 covers all government agencies that are part of the executive branch and, although it doesn't specifically say so, was not meant to apply to the vice president's office or the president's office, a White House spokesman said.

That's very nice. But if it's so, then why in the hell did Cheney make up an elaborate explanation saying he's not a member of the executive branch because he's the president of the Senate?

These people think we're stupid. And maybe they're partially right because I have to say that it's just a little bit disturbing that the LA Times, doesn't even mention Cheney's ridiculous excuse until the fifteenth paragraph and then doesn't bother to point out how it tends to undermine Bush's statement.