In the Talk of the Town section of the New Yorker this week, these are a few of the things Hendrik Hertzberg has to say about Cheney.
"Dick Cheney, the occupant of what John Adams called "the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived," has been the most influential public official in the country, not necessarily excluding President Bush, and his influence has been entirely malign. He is pathologically (but purposefully) secretive; treacherous toward colleagues; coldly manipulative of the callow, lazy, and ignorant President he serves; contemptuous of public opinion; and dismissive of not only international law (a fairly standard attitude for conservatives of his stripe) but also of the very idea that the Constitution and laws of the United States, including laws signed by his nominal superior, can be construed to limit the power of the executive to take any action that can plausibly be classified as part of an endless, endlessly expandable "war on terror."
More than anyone else, including his mentor and departed co-conspirator, Donald Rumsfeld, Cheney has been the intellectual author and bureaucratic facilitator of the crimes and misdemeanors that have inflicted unprecedented disgrace on our country's moral and political standing; the casual trashing of habeus corpus and the Geneva Conventions; the claims of authority to seize suspects, including American citizens, and imprison them indefinitely and incommunicado, with no right to due process of law; the outright encouragement of "cruel," "inhuman," and "degrading" treatment of prisoners; the use of undoubted torture, including waterboarding (Cheney: a "no-brainer for me")., which for a century the United States had prosecuted as a war crime; and, of course, the bloody, nightmarish Iraq war itself, launched under false pretenses, conducted with stupefying incompetence, and escalated long after public support for it had evaporated, at the cost of scores of thousands of lives, nearly half a trillion dollars, and the crippling of America's armed forces, which no longer overawe and will take years to rebuild."
The article goes on from there, pointing out that domestically Cheney pushed tax cuts for the rich that went even beyond what the President wanted. Christine Todd Whitman wasn't anxious to spend time with her family. She resigned from the EPA because she could not sign the rule that "excused refurbished power plants and oil refineries from installing modern pollution controls." There are ethical people in this country. Cheney is not one of those. I consider the words of Hertzberg that Cheney's "influence has been entirely malign," and hope that something can now be done to shut off his power and return morality and ethics, as much as is possible, to the leadership intention of this country.
So, Sunday night leans into Monday and we are wrapped in the arms of fog.