Cheney’s Highest Moment in the Last 8 Years? 9/11.

From the Washington Post:

Vice President Cheney offered an unabashed defense of the Bush administration’s claims of broad executive powers today, mocking criticism from Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and saying the president “doesn’t have to check with anybody” before launching a nuclear attack.

Fox has the complete transcript.

On his rock-bottom approval ratings:

WALLACE: According to the latest Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll — and I know how much you like polls — you now have the lowest approval rating of the last eight years. Twenty-nine percent have a favorable opinion, 61 percent unfavorable.

I know that you say that politicians shouldn’t chase polls. But when people see all that you did as vice president and, in a kind of final report card over your eight years, say they still disapprove, does that bother you?

CHENEY: No. We didn’t — if — we didn’t set out to achieve the highest level of polls that we could during the course of this administration.
[…]
… We’ve been here for eight years now. Eventually, you wear out your welcome in this business.

… I would not want to be one of those guys who spends all his time reading the polls. I think people like that shouldn’t serve in these jobs.

Blue Texan:

Is that so?

Let’s see — the last three 2-term presidents were Clinton, Reagan and Eisenhower. Clinton left with a 66% approval rating, Reagan, 63% and Eisenhower, 59%. So, no Dick, you only “wear out your welcome” when you totally wreck the country.

But don’t you also love the way Dick equates low popularity with good governance, as though, in a democratically-elected republic, having a majority of the electorate think you’re doing a good job is somehow bad. In other words, 70% of the American people are idiots.

Hey, Dick? Go fuck yourself.

More on vice-presidential conduct:

Let’s remember, then, that if Joe Biden approaches, say, Arlen Specter or Orrin Hatch on the Senate floor, he tells them to go “f*ck themselves,” and then brags about how appropriate his conduct was, as far as some on the right are concerned, this is completely appropriate behavior for the vice president to engage in.

George W. Bush admitted the other day that he’s disappointed he wasn’t able to “change the tone” in Washington. If he’s curious where his White House went wrong, he may want to reflect a bit on his VP’s conduct.

On the powers of the executive branch in wartime:

The president of the United States now for 50 years is followed at all times, 24 hours a day, by a military aide carrying a football that contains the nuclear codes that he would use and be authorized to use in the event of a nuclear attack on the United States.

He could launch a kind of devastating attack the world’s never seen. He doesn’t have to check with anybody. He doesn’t have to call the Congress. He doesn’t have to check with the courts. He has that authority because of the nature of the world we live in.

Where in Article II does Cheney find that provision, giving the president unlimited, unchecked power to launch a “devastating attack … because of the nature of the world we live in”? I always thought the president’s powers were defined by the enumerated powers in the Constitution, not by “the nature of the world we live in.”

Matthew Yglesias:

Underlying all of this is an odd conservative lack of faith in democracy. Cheney’s implicit theory is that the democracies prevailed in the Cold War — surely a time of greater external threat — despite our liberal political systems. In fact, the openness of liberal democracy was a major strength. Robust political competition, a free press, transparency in government, etc. helped ensure that policy errors would actually be corrected and that corrupt practices would be curbed. Cheney-style autocracy works fine as long as nobody is ever incompetent or corrupt, but that’s never. And it certainly doesn’t describe the Bush-Cheney administration.

On the War Powers Act:

WALLACE: So if they want to say he can’t surveille or he can’t detain…

CHENEY: Well, they have, for example, said — passed the War Powers Act. The War Powers Act is still in force out there today. That requires him to grant certain notifications to the Congress and give them the authority to supersede those by vote, if they want to, when it comes to committing troops.

No president has ever signed off on the proposition that the War Powers Act is constitutional. I would argue that it is, in fact, a violation of the Constitution, that it’s an infringement on the president’s authority as the commander in chief.

It’s never been resolved, but I think it’s a very good example of a way in which Congress has tried to limit presidents’ authority and, frankly, can’t.

Actually, the War Powers Act was a legislative response to the ignoring, under successive presidencies, of Congress’s explicitly stated constitutional authority to declare war.

Most jaw-droppingly revealing moment of the interview [my emphasis]

WALLACE: […]

Highest moment the last eight years?

CHENEY: Highest moment in the last eight years?

Well, I think that the most important, the most compelling, was 9/11 itself, and what that entailed, what we had to deal with, the way in which that changed the nation and set the agenda for what we’ve had to deal with as an administration.
WALLACE: Can I add, sir, (ph) that’s also your lowest moment?

CHENEY: Sure. Yes.

How extraordinary is that final indifferent shrug of an answer — “Sure. Yes.”? It’s not only that Cheney’s highest moment in the last eight years was the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, with all that that implies. It’s not even only the fact that Chris Wallace had to suggest to Cheney that he might want to say 9/11 was also his lowest moment.

It’s that, even after Wallace pointed out (gently) that Cheney’s enthusiastic choice of 9/11 as the highest point of his vice-presidential career might have been a wee, wee, tiny bit shall we say inappropriate? Cheney clearly did. not.care. He did not care how it sounded. “Sure.Yes.” If you like. Whatever.

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