Democratic Underground

Get Out Of Joe Lieberman's House, Now!
March 8, 2001
by Dave Chandler

Get Out of Joe Lieberman's House, Now!

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I was born in Wyoming and lived there for many years. I don't reside in that state any longer and I have never had any heart problems. My admissions here are in stark contrast to Dick Cheney's similar assertions. He claimed that even though he lived in Texas, he was really a Wyoming resident. (That's why last June he had to make a mad dash to Jackson Hole to change his voter registration, right?) And Cheney has been claiming that he is adequately healthy to be vice president of the republic.

On both counts, Cheney just hasn't been honest with the American people. While the question of Cheney's adherence to the constitutional requirement that he live in a different state than the president has been rendered moot by the January 20 swearing- in ceremony, the dishonesty about his health is now nakedly evident.

Today we know that Dick Cheney is unfit to be vice president of the United States on two counts. Cheney's second heart seizure since election day makes it indisputable that he is physically unfit. The cover up about the plight of his health establishes that he is also ethically unfit.

The primary constitutional function of the vice presidential office is to be prepared to assume the presidency if something goes awry with the tenure of the current White House occupant. Cheney's health demonstrates that he is not in a position to discharge his constitutional duty should it immediately arise. How does Cheney seriously promise the American people that he can vigorously assume the presidency at any moment? Twenty-four hours after his angioplasty -- Cheney cannot in any reasonable and responsible sense make that commitment. So if Cheney is not fully able to completely fulfill Article 2, Section 1 of the United States Constitution ... then he should do the right thing and resign.

But perhaps more important than his physical inadequacy, Cheney's handling of his health problem demonstrates that he is ethically unfit to be vice president. Bluntly put -- he's been lying to us. Consequently the whole Cheney vice presidential escapade calls into question the veracity and judgment of George W. Bush, as well.

Sometime last summer during the Bush vice presidential search process, Cheney became a potential candidate himself. Remember that Cheney was the chief head-hunter for a Bush running mate. During that process Cheney required extensive background checks of the many hopefuls -- a procedure he never had to fully comply with himself. Yet somewhere along the line, Cheney and Bush concluded that it was indeed none other than Dick Cheney who should fill the number two spot on the ticket.

Cheney's health history has been generally known for some time. As a former Wyoming resident, I knew about Cheney's heart attacks during his campaigns for Congress. But the examination of the Cheney health problem was only superficially explored after Bush announced the Cheney pick. Bush assured us that Dick was okay... we got a note from his doctor saying he was fine.

You have to wonder what kind of discussion might have taken place at the Texas ranch last summer between Bush and Cheney about that heart trouble. Surely Cheney could testify about his own ticker. So did Cheney lie to Bush about his heart problems? How much did Cheney tell Bush about the quadruple bypass he had in his 40s? Did Cheney tell Bush but succumb to his personal ambition and take the post anyway? Did Bush know of Cheney's unfitness but then lie to the American voters when he proclaimed that Cheney was ready?

After the public announcement and the Cheney dash to Wyoming, the press started to inquire about the veep nominee's health. And though his health was an issue, Cheney never released his medical records to the public. But the coronary concerns were never extensively investigated, instead Cheney got caught-up in an examination of his extreme right-wing U.S. House voting record. There was some press coverage of Cheney's less than intensive campaign schedule last fall, and there was some reporting about his low-key speaking style. There was even some speculation about how Cheney had turned into a drag on Bush because of his apparent lack of campaign enthusiasm. No heart attacks -- but no unnecessary stress and strain on the campaign trail for Dick Cheney.

But we now know that the heart problem has not gone away. Just over one month into the Republican possession of the White House, Bush and Cheney are lying again and telling us that this vice president is fully capable of carrying out his constitutional duties.

And it is critical that we seriously speculate about what Cheney's problem means to the possible future of the nation. We have to weigh the potential scenarios in order to make rational decisions today about the consequences of our actions. For instance, if George W. Bush is someday hospitalized for minor surgery that requires anesthesia, will Dick Cheney be prepared, or will he, himself, be in a recovery room recuperating from another coronary episode? Consider possible variations on this plot... is this a responsible position in which to place the country? As citizens shouldn't we demand that the vice president be up to the job the constitution assigns him?

Furthermore, the Bush-Cheney-Republican ethical standard that was used to castigate President Clinton has to be applied to them, too. During impeachment they contended (but could not prove) that Clinton should have been removed from office because he lied. At the very least, Bush and Cheney are now being dishonest with the American people about Cheney's health. And Cheney's subterfuge is more ethically critical. Clinton's indiscretions arose from attempts to avoid embarrassment about his personal life -- Cheney's deceit directly affects his official governmental commitment. If the Republican standard is genuine, Cheney should resign and Bush should apologize to the voters for the deception.

The Bush-Cheney agenda is set on a course to get us into another war with Iraq, and they continue to talk the economy into recession. In this dangerous, uncertain world -- the man just a "heartbeat away" from the Oval Office should not be just an "irregular heartbeat away" from being unable to carry out his own constitutional duty.

Dick Cheney is medically and ethically unfit to be living in the vice president's residence at the Naval Observatory. He should get out of Joe Lieberman's house -- now.

Dave Chandler lives in Arvada, Colorado. He is publisher of the environmental and political web site

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