a semi-friendly grin?

Posted on Friday 27 June 2008

Two days ago, during an off-the-record session with a group of foreign policy experts, Vice President Dick Cheney got a question he did not want to answer. “Mr. Vice President,” asked one of them, “I understand that on Wednesday or Thursday, we are going to de-list North Korea from the terrorism blacklist. Could you please set the context for this decision?”

Mr. Cheney froze, according to four participants at the Old Executive Office Building meeting. For more than 30 minutes he had been taking and answering questions, without missing a beat. But now, for several long seconds, he stared, unsmilingly, at his questioner, Steven Clemons of the New America Foundation, a public policy institution. Finally, he spoke:

“I’m not going to be the one to announce this decision,” the other participants recalled Mr. Cheney saying, pointing at himself. “You need to address your interest in this to the State Department.” He then declared that he was done taking questions, and left the room.

In the internal Bush administration war between the State Department and Mr. Cheney’s office over North Korea, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her top North Korea envoy, Christopher R. Hill, won a major battle against the Cheney camp when President Bush announced Thursday that he was taking the country he once described as part of the “axis of evil” off the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism…

This is awkward as the Australian American Leadership Dialogue meeting at which I posed a question to Vice President Cheney was off the record – but it’s out there now in the New York Times. It was a fascinating, little bit scary moment because the Vice President after speaking for quite a while about a lot of tough subjects just went stone silent after I posed a question on North Korea. I hear that Cheney did look back when he was leaving the stage and did flash me a semi-friendly grin, or at least others thought that was what it was. I’m not so sure.

Steve Clemons
The only semi-friendly grin I’ve ever seen cross Cheney’s face was when he responded to Martha Raddatz’s question:
    CHENEY: On the security front, I think there’s a general consensus that we’ve made major progress, that the surge has worked. That’s been a major success.
    RADDATZ: Two-third of Americans say it’s not worth fighting.
    CHENEY: So?
    RADDATZ: So? You don’t care what the American people think?
    CHENEY: No. I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls.
For Cheney, semi-friendly grin means sarcastic [unless he is revealing a secret crush on Steve Clemmons]. Seriously, this story has an important side. Cheney is only interested in power. Like the horror show we saw yesterday with his cohort, David Addington, Cheney goes for vanquishing the foe, not compromise and diplomacy. He’d oppose Condi getting her way 100% of the time. Remember what Cheney said about Murtha and Pelosi after the Democratic victories in 2006:

Most striking were his virtually taunting remarks of two men he described as friends from his own days in the House: Democratic Reps. John Dingell [MI] and John P. Murtha [PA]. In a 40-minute interview with Politico, he scoffed at the idea of two men who spent years accruing power showing so much deference to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi [CA]. in the big spending and energy debates of the year. Murtha “and the other senior leaders … march to the tune of Nancy Pelosi to an extent I had not seen, frankly, with any previous speaker,” Cheney said. “I’m trying to think how to say all of this in a gentlemanly fashion, but [in] the Congress I served in, that wouldn’t have happened.” But his implication was clear: When asked if these men had lost their spines, he responded, “They are not carrying the big sticks I would have expected.”
[speaking of Freudian, "When asked if these men had lost their spines, he responded, “They are not carrying the big sticks I would have expected.”] Back to being serious again. Cheney is a power monger. His opinion on this matter is to be discounted because it’s more driven by his paranoia and need to be the tough guy, particularly when his opponent is a "girl" [Condi Rice].

What a ridiculous bunch of pure-D craziness has gone on in this White House. Where are the grown-ups?…


Earlier this week, the Bush administration the Bush administration announced that it was taking North Korea off the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism after the country declared its nuclear program to the outside world. Vice President Dick Cheney has not hid his disapproval of the move. Now, the Telegraph reports that Cheney tried to block the deal before it happened:
    Vice President Dick Cheney fought furiously to block efforts by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to strike a controversial US compromise deal with North Korea over the communist state’s nuclear programme, the Telegraph has learned. “The exchanges between Cheney’s office and Rice’s people at State got very testy. But ultimately Condi had the President’s ear and persuaded him that his legacy would be stronger if they reached a deal with Pyongyang,” said a Pentagon adviser who was briefed on the battle.
On Friday, the New York Times described the North Korea deal as the State Department’s win in a “major battle against the Cheney camp.”

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