Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dead Man Talking

No Bathroom Breaks for Wounded Vets? From Steve Benen:

I shudder to think what the reaction might be if Barack Obama tried to pull a stunt like this one.

Vice President Cheney’s invitation to address wounded combat veterans next month has been yanked because the group felt his security demands were Draconian and unreasonable.

The veep had planned to speak to the Disabled American Veterans at 8:30 a.m. at its August convention in Las Vegas.

His staff insisted the sick vets be sequestered for two hours before Cheney’s arrival and couldn’t leave until he’d finished talking, officials confirmed.


“Word got back to us … that this would be a prerequisite,” said the veterans executive director, David Gorman, who noted the meeting hall doesn’t have any rest rooms. “We told them it just wasn’t acceptable.”

David Autry, another Disabled American Veterans official, said Cheney’s demands would be “a huge imposition on our delegates.”

That certainly seems to be the case. Some of the veterans were severely wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan, and many more are elderly veterans who “left pieces of themselves on foreign battlefields since World War II.” Getting to an early-morning event two hours beforehand, and getting stuck in a room they can’t leave, isn’t much of an option.

Once inside, the vets “could not leave the meeting room, and the bathrooms are outside,” Autry added."

Benen points out that these rules are even more stringent than those imposed when the President himself speaks. Is Cheney really a more likely target of terrorist activity than Bush? Or just more paranoid and self important? This gets back to something I posted on a short lived diary at Kos the other day--the scariest comparison for McCain isn't McCain/Bush but McCain/Cheney. Both men are old--so old that they would ordinarily have retired and been fishing and shooting friends in the face full time by now. Is that a good thing, or a bad thing? Bush's handlers always tried to spin Bush and Cheney's disinterest in the future and in polls as a kind of sturdy independence, a morality that overrode mere considerations of political popularity. But of course it was the exact opposite. In a democracy, popularity is or ought to be a measure of how well the President's plans jump with what the people actually want. A President who doesn't care what the people want is an autocrat, not a democrat or a republican.

Cheney is the epitome of the politician without a constituency, the indifferent technocrat and autocrat who owes his allegiance not to the people but to himself. Cheney went into the VP slot with the stated understanding that he would never run for President or compete with Bush in any way by appealing to the people or to the party. What did we get for it? An activist VP who never cared about either the fate of his party or the country after his stint in the White House is finished. He's got no political future, and so his actions have been unconstrained by calculations of long term effects, popularity, legality, or morality. The lesson I take away from Cheney's terms in office is--never elect a dead man walking. He's got nothing to lose. McCain is similarly situated. This is the last stop, for him. What does he care about your kids education? the environment? America's laws? the popularity of his political programs. None of these will affect him in a few years. As for McCain's personal history and long term goals--can anyone point to any other than self aggrandizement? At the very minimum he has shown that he wasn't interested in even the smallest of lasting monuments offered to ordinary people like a single faithful marital relationship or strong bonds with all his children.