With the release of his new book, Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency, Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman has lifted a dark veil from Bush presidency, confirming what we already knew, yet were probably too depressed to admit: that over the course of eight years, Vice President Dick Cheney has repeatedly and recklessly seized the reigns of the Bush Administration, in the process upending many of the fundamental freedoms of American democracy.
The New York Times sums up Gellman's sobering expose this way:
"At the height of his power, Mr. Gellman [writes], the vice president 'made big things happen': he 'reshaped national security law, expanded the prerogatives of the executive branch, midwifed the birth of domestic espionage, rewrote the president's tax bill,' shut down negotiations with North Korea and played a major role in bringing war to Iraq. Mr. Gellman also argues that Mr. Cheney, in trying to face down opposition from within the Justice Department, would 'come close' to leading the Bush presidency 'off a cliff.'"
With all due respect to author Gellman, we told you this six months ago. In our blockbusting biography, Young Dick Cheney: Great American (Alternet Books), we revealed that the portly potentate's hunger for power--and contempt for playing by the rulebook--traces back to 1950s Wyoming, where as vice president of Casper High School's student government, Dick learned to wield power with diabolical finesse.
He had secured the vice presidency with ease. Placing his boyhood pal, Donny, at the top of the election ticket, the two had sailed to a landslide victory, doubling their opponents' vote tally, and tripling the actual number of students at Casper High.
Then they took offce--and that's when the fun began:
WITHIN WEEKS OF THEIR ELECTION, President Donny and Vice President Dick immediately streamlined the student government to make it more efficient, eliminating such unnecessary offices as the student council treasurer, the student council secretary, and even the school principal.
They also instituted a new disciplinary system, primarily for those who were kept after school. Students with behavioral problems were no longer sent to the cafeteria after the dismissal bell, but instead were relocated to a small shack behind a drainage ditch, half a mile away.
"Yessiree, we're calling it Detention-o Bay," Donny announced to the student body during a morning assembly, as Dick slipped him index cards with the speech written on them. "But I don't want you to think of Detno as a place of punishment. Golly, no--it's a place of fairness. A hall of justice, where honor, tradition and nipple-electrodes come together!"
By and large, the students of Casper High went along happily with these new measures (except for a few dissenters, who most people regarded as "lacking school spirit" and were never seen again). As for Donny and Dick, their reputations soared--thanks in large part to their friend and schoolmate Scooter, who had been installed as the editor of the redesigned student newspaper, The Neo-Casperian.
"Donny and Dick's pledge to bring honor and integrity back to student government has been fulfilled," Scooter wrote in a special front-page editorial. "This newspaper applauds you both. We can think of only two words that accurately describe your triumphs: Mission Accomplished!"
The disciplinary crackdown at Casper High, meanwhile, was only the beginning of Donny and Dick's reign of reform, which Donny dubbed "Operation Shock and Awesome!" For the rest of the year, the ever-smiling student council president and his ever-serious second-in-command instituted a rash of innovative policies designed to make their school the pride of Casper--and the nation.
Under Donny's rule (and Dick's direction), the boys got down to business:
The Casper High mascot was changed from Marty the Mustang to John D. Rockefeller.
It was now permissible, in some circumstances, to shoot a teacher in the face.
Shop class students were ordered to stop work on their spice racks and devote all of their energies to building Young Dick a "man-sized safe" to ensure the privacy of all student documents (under the watchful eye of the new vice president).
Even the cinnamon buns that Donny and Dick had promised during their hard-fought campaign were now on the school lunch menu, though some would complain that the rich and sticky sweets were available only to the top one percent of students.
"Gee willikers, don't you think we should reconsider that one?" Donny asked Dick in a secret meeting in a small off-campus bakery owned by Ebeneezer Dunkin'. "Some of our classmates are starting to get upset."
"Let them eat Tastykakes," Dick replied.
But for Young Dick, no administrative undertaking was as important as the senior prom. Ensuring the success of this traditional year-end event, he knew, was not only crucial to winning the hearts and minds of his classmates, but also an excellent credit to include on his college applications, which he'd already begun sending out--to, among others, Sinclair Community College, Texaco Tech, and the University of Alabama at Mobil [sic].
In past years, the theme of the dance had been vital to its popularity with students, none more so than last year's "Cow-Pie Country Fair," with its Migrant Worker Dunking Booth and music by Howlin' Hank and the Homophobes.
But for the 1959 prom, Dick had lobbied hard for a theme that was somewhat closer to his dark heart. Just two years before, his secret mentor, Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, had died at the age of forty-eight, and Dick knew this was a chance to honor him.
"The prom will be called 'Moonlight Over the Mekong,' " Dick stonily announced at a meeting of his newly formed Secret Prom Committee Task Force. "It's got romance, it's got tropical splendor--and it will send a powerful message to our kimono-wearing friends in Red China that they can't get their chopsticks into every chunk of jungle real estate, if you know what I mean."
Young Dick Cheney drooled slightly when he made this declaration, sending drops of spittle flying into the air like confetti. The task force passed the resolution unanimously, not so much because they liked the idea, but because they were frightened by the wild look in Dick's eye.
To read more of the explosive Young Dick Cheney: Great American, click on the image below....
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