The First, True Vice President

05/25/2011 12:20 pm ET

As the timetable of White House statements about Iran's nuclear capability fall through the rabbit hole into Wonderland, the lies are piling up faster than they can be shoveled away. Atop the pile has been Vice President Dick Cheney, leading the fear of Iran's "fairly robust new nuclear program" - all the while the discrediting-NIE report was held up for a year, in an effort to "make the document more supportive" of Cheney's push, two former CIA officers told the global Inter Press Service...a full month before the NIE was released.

It would be easy to say, "Forgive him, he knows not what he does." Except that Number Two does know. He just doesn't care.

We well-know the mantra by now and can time it like clockwork. The insurgency has long been in its "last throes," he insisted - on May 31, 2005. "We've turned the corner," he extolled -- on June 9, 2006. "We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators." In "fact." Only three months ago, he was yet again rousing an audience still willing to trust him that "We will press on in our mission, and turn events to victory." You almost expected him to whip out his old, unused draft card and enlist on the spot. Or at least urge others to. And just five days ago, he told The Politico that by mid-2009, it will be clear "we have in fact achieved our objective in terms of having a self-governing Iraq that's capable for the most part of defending themselves." Again - "in fact."

Dick Cheney has been wrong more than Bill Kristol, Kate O'Beirne and Sean Hannity put together. He's lied more than Pinocchio.

There's a huge problem when one lies, of course. And that is best expressed in Hedrick Smith's epic "The Power Game," a definitive study in 1988 about the way Washington works. He quotes one eloquent leader after the disastrous Iran-contra scandal broke, which almost toppled the Reagan Administration because of all the illegal deception.

"The reason for not misleading Congress is a very practical one - it's stupid!," the expert angrily spouted. "It's self-defeating because while it may in fact allow you to prevail in the problem of the moment, eventually you destroy the president's credibility."

The speaker was Congressman Dick Cheney.

Page 635.

As Casey Stengel once said, "You could look it up."

The wonderful thing about a book written in the past is that it has no present-day partisan spin. That's what Dick Cheney said, taken at pure face value. Reprimanding National Security Advisor John Poindexter for his duplicitous actions under Ronald Reagan.

Just think if Today Dick Cheney ever talked with Former Dick Cheney and took his counsel. For starters, the Bush Administration wouldn't be sitting in the middle of Iraq hell. Or in Congress, testifying daily. Or explaining why the NIE on Iran doesn't match the Administration's insistence.

For certain, Mr. Cheney wouldn't have the rap sheet he does. And then suddenly, you realize what has been staring a nation in the face for seven years: Dick Cheney is the first, actual vice president in U.S. history. "Vice" isn't a modifier, it's his mission.

If you're going to be a true Vice president, after all, you ought to have some Vice to show for it.

Like the Gitmo detention prisons. "[T]he Supreme Court struck its sharpest blow to the house that Cheney built, ruling 5 to 3 that the president had no lawful power to try alleged terrorists in military commissions," reported the Washington Post. Chalk up one to the Vice president and his illegal plans.

Outing an undercover agent. Sure, he was saved from impeachment by his assistant who fell on his sword and was convicted of obstruction of justice. But it seems unfair to not credit the Vice president for his well-deserved efforts weakening America.

Warrantless wiretapping. After acknowledging that he "personally presided" over briefings to Congress on the NSA wiretapping bill, a federal court ruled it illegal.

Torture. "According to participants in the debate," wrote the Washington Post, "the Vice President stands by the view that Bush need not honor any of the new judicial and legislative restrictions." Cool! See, if you're the Vice president, laws don't count. When you're the Vice president, you can overlook "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment by calling it "robust interrogation."

Shooting Harry Whittington. And then leaving the scene. 'Nuff said.

If anyone ever doubted the foresight of our Founding Fathers, their naming of the office of the vice president should put aside any questions. It's almost as if they were clairvoyant 230 years into the future. Mr. Cheney has done them proud.

But for all his bravado in the world of Vice president, their remains one area where his modesty filters through. In that Ford Museum speech last Friday, Mr. Cheney explained why he was where he was:

"I'm certain that I wouldn't be vice president today had it not been for the opportunities given to me by President Ford."

Oh, the modesty.

Of course, the truth is that he wouldn't be Vice president if he hadn't headed up the search commission and appointed himself.

In the end, if you're going to put the Vice in Vice president, that's about as good a way to get the ball rolling as any.