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Cheney's New Front in War on Reality


By John Nichols, The Nation

When the Bush administration was asking in 2002 for Congressional approval of a resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq, Vice President Cheney told the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars that Saddam Hussein had "resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons." He then claimed that, "Armed with an arsenal of these weapons of terror, and seated atop 10 percent of the world's oil reserves, Saddam Hussein could then be expected to seek domination of the entire Middle East, take control of the world's energy supplies, directly threaten American friends throughout the region, and subject the United States or any other nation to nuclear blackmail."

As it turned out, Cheney was proven wrong.

Several months later, just prior to the launch of the war he had conjured, the vice president appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" and said of Saddam Hussein, "We know he has reconstituted these (chemical weapons) programs. We know he's out trying once again to produce nuclear weapons, and we know that he has a long-standing relationship with various terrorist groups, including the al-Qaeda organization."

As it turned out, Cheney was proven wrong.

During his "Meet the Press" appearance on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the vice president announced that, "We will be greeted as liberators."

As it turned out, Cheney was proven wrong.

Now, the vice president says of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's support for moves to extract U.S. troops from the quagmire that is Iraq: if we adopt the Pelosi policy, that then we will validate the strategy of al-Qaeda.``

It is only a matter of time until Cheney is proven wrong again.

Indeed, as former President Jimmy Carter said during the taping of an appearance on ABC's This Week program, which will air Sunday, "If you go back and see what Vice President Cheney has said for the last three or four years concerning Iraq, his batting average is abysmally low. He hasn't been right on hardly anything in his prediction of what was going to happen."

When Pelosi challenged the vice president's over-the-top rhetoric this week, Cheney shot back, "She accused me of questioning her patriotism. I didn't question her patriotism. I questioned her judgment."

Remarkable as it may be for Cheney, at this point in his tenure, to raise the issue of judgment, he has in so doing provided an appropriate opening for a discussion of his own tenuous ties to reality.

Were Cheney a run-of-the-mill vice president, his inability to identify the line between fact and fantasy – or is it: truth and fiction – would be the stuff of comedy sketches. But, of course, Cheney is no ordinary second in command. Indeed, when it comes to foreign policy, he has for six years now been the real "decider." Only the most delusional observer of Washington fails to recognize that the Bush White House does what it does "because," as former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill explained, "this is the way that Dick likes it."

So as the vice president, with his attacks on Pelosi, launches a new front in his war on reality, isn't it time to talk ask whether American can survive another two years of his misrule. Or, to be more precise: Hasn't he earned the sanction proposed by the bumper stickers that read: "Impeach Cheney First"?

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John Nichols' new book is THE GENIUS OF IMPEACHMENT: The Founders' Cure for Royalism. Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson hails it as a "nervy, acerbic, passionately argued history-cum-polemic [that] combines a rich examination of the parliamentary roots and past use of the 'heroic medicine' that is impeachment with a call for Democratic leaders to 'reclaim and reuse the most vital tool handed to us by the founders for the defense of our most basic liberties.'"

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