(Please click on the cartoons to enlarge them.)The drip, drip, drip of revelations in recent weeks about Dick Cheney's problematic relationship with George Bush has had the perverse effect of actually making the former president look good.
This is no mean feat considering that perverse is a term that well describes the eight years of the Bush-Cheney Regency, a stain on American history that will not soon be erased.
What is now apparent is that suggestions early on that the vice president had no greater political ambitions himself and was primarily concerned with advancing his draconian policy agenda through controlling the president was spot-on accurate.
That Cheney succeeded to a great extent also is apparent. The Pat Oliphant cartoons in which Bush repeatedly defers to "Uncle Dick" or hides behind his skirts like those shown here were terrifyingly accurate.
But a funny thing happened on the way to 2009: By the lights of the ideologically rigorous Cheney, the once reliably obeisant Bush went soft on him.
Shackled with scathing public criticism of his policies and historically low poll approval numbers, the president climbed down from his ideological high horse, began distancing himself from the vice president and relied less and less on his counsel. Then, in a final indignity, he turned aside Cheney's imprecations to grant a pardon in the closing days of his administration to Scooter Libby, but one of the veep's many victims, in this case a loyal aide whom he had sacrificed to protect himself in the Valerie Plame-Joseph Wilson scandal.* * * * *Cheney, of course, had criticized Paul O'Neil and Scott McClellan for cashing in on their Bush administration roles but is now peddling his own reflections on his years in the White House, which helps explain that drip, drip, drip thing. The more his literary agents can gin up interest the more millions he will earn in what has to be the most anticipated vice presidential memoir ever. Or more accurately, perhaps the only vice presidential memoir ever anticipated.
Yes, it's blood money. But let's not forget that while Cheney wrapped himself in the flag, he always has put himself first and country and party second and third. That is why he could criticize the former Treasury and press secretaries as being disloyal for writing books but feels no such compunction when it comes to himself.
You won't read any of this in Cheney's memoir, but don't forget that power always has been more personal than political for him.
Destruction of evidence always has been preferable to being publicly accountable.
Grudges always have been something to be harbored indefinitely, whether the post-Watergate constraints placed on executive power or the outting of one of his justifications for the Iraq war as a lie by that Wilson feller.
Failure always has been something deeply felt, and no failure has been greater than his not anticipating the 9/11 attacks because his Cold War blinders prevented him from realizing that the world had changed.* * * * *There has, of course, never been room for honesty or honest reflection in Cheney's parallel universe.
But what is delicious (okay, maybe that's not the right word) about the drip, drip, drip is that in settling myriad scores, which certainly has been a motivation for the secrecy-obsessed Cheney to go so public so often since leaving office and then to peddle a memoir as well, is that perhaps his vanity will do what war-crimes investigators probably cannot: Reveal him in his own words to be a coward who sought to destroy the laws and values on which America was built.