Friday, March 02, 2007

As Public Opposition To Bush Policies Increases, So Does Dick Cheney's Contempt

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A couple of days ago, Glenn Greenwald took note of the inverse relationship between public disapproval of the Bush administration and Dick Cheney's increasingly blatant contempt for public opinion:

Since the smashing repudiation his party suffered at the hands of the American voter in the 2006 midterm elections, Dick Cheney's behavior has become palpably more secretive, combative, and scornful. The embittered interview he gave to Wolf Blitzer was the most vivid, but far from the only, instance. He seems to harbor such scorn for the democratic process that he literally no longer cares whether the answers he gives to reporters' questions even make any sense.

The interview Cheney gave to pool reporters on his plane yesterday as it returned home from Afghanistan is striking in several respects. Initially, as Dan Froomkin notes, Cheney demanded that journalists not identify him by name when reporting on the interview (but instead refer to him only as a "senior administration official"), even though Cheney himself makes unmistakably clear in the transcript that it is him.

In fact, the very first words out of his mouth were: "The reason the President wanted me to come, obviously, is because of the continuing threat that exists in this part of the world." He discussed at length the comments he made recently about Nancy Pelosi wanting to "validate Al Qaeda's strategy. So even though there was not a single security reason for the anonymity, Cheney insisted upon it anyway. The official White House transcript (linked above) refers to him only as a "senior administration official," and reporters were required to identify him only as such.

Cheney's petty demand that he not be identified -- like a petty tyrant's demand that his name never pass anyone's lips -- is just an assertion of secrecy and authoriatarian power for its own sake (even under the rule of Emperor Hirohito, "commoners were no longer forbidden to speak his name or look at his face"). But unlike Hirohito, Cheney is an elected public servant of American citizens and this attempt to prohibit journalists from attributing his own words to him is just bizarrely megalomaniacal and contemptuous, particularly in light of how he virtually went out of his way in the very first sentence to make clear that it was him.

Doubtless we can expect the needle on Cheney's pettiness (and pettishness) meter to continue nudging upward, given the results of the latest New York Times/CBS News poll [bolds are mine]:

In the months since the Congressional elections, President Bush has lost substantial support among members of his own party. ...

Mr. Bush’s approval rating dropped 13 percentage points since last fall among Republicans, 65 percent of whom now say they approve of the way he is handling his job as president, compared with 78 percent last October.

Over all, Mr. Bush’s job approval remains at one of its lowest points, with 29 percent of all Americans saying they approve of the way he is doing his job, compared with 34 percent at the end of October. Sixty-one percent disapproved, compared with 58 percent in October, within the margin of sampling error.

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