In the classic 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz, when the heroine Dorothy asks Glinda, the good witch how to get back home, she is advised to “seek the help of the mysterious Wizard of Oz in the Emerald City, which she can reach by following the Yellow Brick Road.” Eventually Dorothy and her band of misfits encounter the Wizard who appears “amidst smoke and flames as a disembodied, intimidating head. In a booming voice, he states that he will consider granting their wishes if they bring him the Wicked Witch's broomstick.” As you may remember, after Dorothy captures the broomstick and triumphantly returns to the Wizard’s chamber, her “little dog Toto” opens a curtain, revealing the “great Wizard” to be an ordinary man, “operating a console of wheels and levers while speaking into a microphone.” His spectacle was contrived and he held no magical powers. Indeed, Dorothy had the power to do as she wished all along – go home.
The “great Wizard” of the Bush administration was the 46th vice president, Dick Cheney. Behind the scenes of an eight-year administration that launched two ambiguous, simultaneous and catastrophically costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, oversaw the elimination of our nation’s first budget surplus since Bill Clinton, unapologetically fostered a real and palpable negative image of the United States abroad (with both friend and foe alike), as well as failed to catch and/or kill the most wanted man in the world, akaOsama Bin Laden — Cheney has the audacity to call current President Barack Obama, “one of our weakest.”
In Callum Borchers’ Boston Globe article, quoting an interview on ABC.com, Cheney goes on to say, “[o]bviously, I’m not a big fan of President Obama. I fundamentally disagree with him, philosophically. You’d be hard put to find any Democratic president that I’ve disagreed with more.”
Like Oz’s Tin Man, Cheney was in need of a heart, and gave his first interview to ABC News following his March transplant operation.
In the spirit of giving, Cheney also threw a rock at Sarah Palin, calling her selection as John McCain’s 2008 running mate, “a mistake.” McCain later defended Palin on Fox News saying, “Well, I’m always glad to get comments four years later.” McCain went on to say, “… the fact is that I’m proud of Sarah Palin, I’m proud of the job she did, I’m proud of the job she continues to do. So, everybody has their own views and I respect those views. But I’m proud of what we did.”
Certainly known less for his graciousness than John McCain and more for his “hard line on terrorism and support of harsh interrogation strategies, including water boarding,” as Borchers reported, Cheney disingenuously commented on President’s Obama’s success in capturing and killing public enemy No. 1. Much like the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the promise of bringing Bin Laden to justice never materialized in eight years of the Bush/Cheney rule. “I wouldn’t say he’s been soft on terror, but I think he’s made a number of mistakes,” Cheney said (of President Obama). “[Osama] bin Laden, fine. A lot of that intelligence that laid the groundwork for what ultimately led to the capture of Bin Laden was a result of programs we had in place in the Bush administration.”
Cheney’s role as Bush’s VP changed the very definition of that particular job’s description. And it was Cheney who re-defined it. In a 2007 Washington Post 4-part series of articles on Cheney entitled, “Angler: The Cheney Vice-Presidency,” Barton Gellman and Jo Becker described over 200 insider interviews, personal notes, e-mails, calendar entries and other documents, a vice president who, “approached the levers of power obliquely, skirting orderly lines of debate he once enforced as chief of staff to President Gerald R. Ford.” Never in front of the curtain. Always behind it.
The Post articles describe Cheney as, “In roles that have gone largely undetected, Cheney has served as gatekeeper for Supreme Court nominees, referee of Cabinet turf disputes, arbiter of budget appeals, editor of tax proposals and regulator in chief of water flows in his native West.” My way or the highway, indeed! What else would you expect from a two-time Yale Ph.D drop-out, and later a University of Wisconsin-Madison Ph.D drop-out who primarily used his student status to garner five deferments from the draft, and avoided possible combat deployment to Vietnam. This is a man who, by his own admission, “…. had other priorities in the '60s than military service.” Old news, I know, but still relevant to the character of the man.
So why, then, doesn’t Dick Cheney follow his former boss' lead, and keep quiet about current political affairs. Former President George W. Bush isn’t even going to attend the Republican National Convention this August. Maybe Cheney thinks he can re-invent himself again; this time as the new GOP Yoda: the “go to” for aspiring politicos and office seekers who will scrap and bow for some wisdom. No, that’s probably not it. As Jon Healey of the Los Angeles Times logically recommended yesterday, “Mitt Romney, don't follow Dick Cheney's advice.”
No, what Cheney wants is to desperately cling onto — with every ounce of his essence — his position behind the curtain; keep tugging the ropes, and turning the knobs that create the illusion of superiority and power. That way, he’s never the one who’s in the direct line of fire or actually at risk. Who in the hell does Dick Cheney think he is? He’s the Wizard.