Bill Cosby used to tell this story:
My parents like to give my children money. Money. For the children. Come over here and let's see what grandpa has in his pocket for you! This is the guy who when I asked for a dollar told me how he walked ten miles to school, barefoot in the snow, uphill, both ways. He told me how he killed a bear with his loose-leaf notebook. Now, he's giving money to my children. And I want to tell them, my children, look these are old people - they're trying to get into heaven now.
We're down to a couple of weeks, or maybe a little longer.
Thirty five days, actually.
And the outgoing administration is feeling a little reflective.
A number of folks in the Bush administration have admitted to regret at how things turned out, and the president himself admitted that he was unprepared for the challenges of his office. Specifically, he said he was unprepared for war. That didn't keep him from starting a couple though. And he said that maybe, just maybe, that was a mistake, maybe he wouldn't have ordered the invasion of Iraq if he'd had decent intelligence (and you may take that any damned way you'd like) and had known for sure that there were no weapons of mass delusion.
A little humility, finally. Not much, but a little. It only took a national vote of no confidence. It only took a resounding republican defeat. But finally, finally, there's just a little humility around the White House. Too little, too late, but still...
And, then, well then there's Dick.
Vice President Dick Cheney is not regretful, at all.
Dick didn't make any mistakes. Others did, but not Dick. Fuck 'em all. Dick's going out a winner. Or at least that's the impression I get from his recent exclusive interview with abc News.
Oh, he says he has changed a bit, but not in any fundamental way. He hasn't had some pansey-assed Robert McNamara epiphany. No crisis of conscience, not for Dick Cheney. He's not suddenly awash in regret or guilt stricken or anything. Dick doesn't have regrets. He's still the same dick we started out with eight years ago.
"Have I changed?" Cheney said. "Well, not in the sense that I've gone through some fundamental psychological transition here, but I have been, since that day, focused very much on what we needed to do to defend the nation, and I think the policies we've recommended, the programs that we've undertaken, have been good programs. I think those have been sound decisions, and if that's what they mean by saying I've changed, I'm guilty."
Still the gansta of love, is Dick Cheney. Sound decisions. Good programs. No regrets. Proud of his actions. Asked by ABC if he approved of the use of torture Cheney said he thought it was an "appropriate means" of getting information. Asked if he, personally, had authorized the use of waterboarding in the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind behind 911, Cheney said,
"I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared, as the agency in effect came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn't do. And they talked to me, as well as others, to explain what they wanted to do. And I supported it."
Boy, that sure sounds like a guy who's proud of his actions, doesn't it. Did you authorize torture? Weeeeell, we call it a program. I supported the program. I was aware of the program. They talked to me and some others about the program...
Too much to expect a yes or no answer, I suppose. But that's OK. It's all justified by the War on Terrorism.
Because, see for Cheney, and the Bush administration - it's all about the terrorism. All of it. They see terrorists everywhere. At home. Abroad. In the airports. On the street corners. In the schools. Everywhere. Terrorism. Booga booga.
And the threat of terrorism justifies everything. And the threat of terrorism is all consuming. And the threat of terrorism is the first thing they think of when they wake up in the morning and the last thing they think of before they drop off into the sleep of the just and righteous.
Asked about President-elect Obama's national security picks, Cheney said he thought it "was a pretty good team." and "I think keeping Gates at Defense is excellent." Well, he could hardly say otherwise, could he? But then he went on to say that the new administration must carefully assess the tools put in place to fight terror. And there it is - everything leads back to terrorism for Dick Cheney.
But all of that was just the warm up.
See, Dick said something profoundly interesting. Something the interviewer didn't catch - and neither has anyone else that I'm aware of. See if you can spot it:
Cheney and the interviewer were discussing the war in Iraq. The interviewer mentioned that disgraced presidential advisor Karl Rove said during an interview earlier this month that he [Rove] did not believe the administration would have gone to war had the intelligence revealed Saddam did not possess WMDs. George W. Bush himself said much the same in his own interview and list of regrets. Dick said,
"I disagree with that. As I look at the intelligence with respect to Iraq, what they got wrong was that there weren't any stockpiles. What they found was that Saddam Hussein still had the capability to produce weapons of mass destruction. He had the technology, he had the people, he had the basic feed stock. This was a bad actor, and the country's better off, the world's better off with Saddam gone, and I think we made the right decision, in spite of the fact that the original NIE was off in some of its major judgments."
Do you see it?
For five years now Bush, Rove, Rice, Powell and all the rest have said publicly that the reason we went to war was specifically the threat of WMD's. The speeches are a matter of public record. Now all of those folks have said, hey, sure, turns out the intelligence was wrong - but the decision to invade was justified at the time based on what we knew. It's regrettable now, that the invasion can't be justified in light of the evidence on the ground. Hindsight is a bitch. Saddam was a monster and a tyrant, but that would not have been grounds for going to war. But if there is any blame to be had, it's on the head of the US intelligence apparatus - not the administration.
Dick says, "I disagree with that." Dick says the invasion was justified anyway. Dick says we would have gone to war in Iraq even if we knew there were no weapons of mass destruction.
Go watch the interview for yourself. Tell me I'm wrong.
A lot of people have suspected for a long time that George W. Bush intended right from the start to finish the job his father failed to do.
Dick Cheney basically confirmed that.
Bush may be showing a little contriteness now, like Bill Cosby's joke, he's worried about getting into heaven here in the final days - well, maybe not heaven, but at least worried about what history will think of him.
Cheney on the other hand, well he's right.
He hasn't changed at all.