Democratic Underground  

A Heartbeat Away
June 4, 2003
By B. Rehak

Now, in the Oval Office in the West Wing of the White House, center of the greatest government of the richest most powerful nation the world has ever known, dwells George W. Bush, with a 72% post-war approval rating. He's a beloved man at the top of his game and just a heartbeat away from the presidency.

It appears that Vice President Dick Cheney has what some call an unprecedented influence on Mr. Bush. If you like the sound of this, then we're living under the greatest executive management team Washington has ever known. If not, then consider that maybe Dubya is just the advance man for the the Cheney-Halliburton Administration.

America by and for true patriots. Could this be?

Could Bush 43 be just the smiling, saluting face of USA, INC., and it's actually Mr. Cheney, crafting the entire agenda from an undisclosed location? Nifty reverse approach to the usual Republican line up, Quayle out front.

Despite the economy, a lot of conservatives seem to be sleeping better lately, so you'd best start to watch where all this is actually headed.

In a vibrant two-party political system, a brave young voice from the left would stand up in Congress to contest the hypocrisy of it all, and no matter how loud all the interconnected special interests shouted him down, the truth would win out in the end and the whole country would head back toward the daylight of a new freedom, and.... if all this appeals to you, enjoy the classic films of Frank Capra.

Today's reality is that we live in a progressively more intolerant and conservative America, and the folks on top have an unprecedented variety of ways to reach and influence the Big Dumb Mob.

The BDM consists of those unquestioning Americans under the influence of whatever is big at the moment. They demand we bomb the hell out of Iraq, but most folks couldn't find it on a map. The BDM must be fed a diet of constant neocon media patriotic thinking awash in the flag, mom, apple pie, God, double headers, country music, etc. On Fox News Channel tracers fly into the night sky, beautifully edited to a patriotic country beat. Complex geo-politics become just a deck of weird playing cards, which sell like hotcakes.

They'll use what always works on the BDM: fear and flag waving.

To live on, the right must simply out-shout record Federal deficits and bankruptcy filings, diminished civil liberties, failed education and health policies, greedy deregulation, diverted women's issues, friendly contributor no-bid deals, etc. If the BDM buys the party line, they won't bother to vote, and the right will have won by default.

Political change only occurs when the BDM finally gets pissed off and acts. In 1992 they put Bush 41 out of office for his economy. That won't likely happen again, because now they can use the next War on Something Gooey to distract the BDM. As the election approaches expect the drum-beat to drown out debate. Duct tape sales will skyrocket, again.

Right now, the Administration has the BDM totally captivated.

Few candidates in the struggling "post-Democratic Party" have openly questioned this Administration, lest they provoke the BDM. Liberals dare not start questioning the Emperor's new wardrobe, or media cross-ownership deals.

Could it be that a tiny, bitter, pious, intolerant, reactionary, hypocritical subculture and their predatory patrons are running the whole show and making millions? Now that would be a coincidence.

Nothing unpleasant may be allowed to break this post-war happy mood, like factual data flow to and from the 9-11 Commission, the Government's own internal 9-11 investigation, the NASA Shuttle crash investigation, and other negative vibes. Is anything that actually happens ever again going to get past this Administration without being fluffed and folded first?

One must wish the Republicans well, for they are surely in complete charge of America now and all it represents in today's world. On Fox News the USA story is one long glorious Chevy/Budweiser/Hummer commercial with music by Elmer Bernstein. In a lot of the world's media, folks seem to look at us and just shake their heads. A lot of people who liked us are pissed at us, and a lot of people who were pissed at us are now busy wiring up their sons in suicide vests. No problem. The new America is in a fighting mood!

The BDM likes its America with big balls. All human debate is neatly reduced to patriotic slogans on a ball cap. Glorious. Envision Wagner's "Nibelungen" as performed by the cast of "Hee Haw."

Former corporate barons make odd public servants in a democracy. The hottest multi-nationals are usually run as absolute dictatorships by cunning, ruthless, nameless men who will lie, cheat, and steal to win at any cost. Their raw power is unquestioned. They buy and sell politicians and judges, diddle the media, spy on their competitors, lie about scandals, reward idiots, and blame the innocent. Such business practices would seem a liability in an American government, but not lately.

The very largest corporations are seldom run by the face guy alone. There are many hands at the helm. Sometimes the leader is even out of the loop completely. If profits grow, nobody cares. If profits fall, they dump the front guy and start over.

Mr. Cheney has apparently used his talents to adroitly transform the traditional political backwater that was the VP slot into a conservative engine room, skillfully interacting with favored media, the White House staff, the Courts, both houses of Congress, and most of the richest people and companies in America, just to make sure things are nice and tidy.

Mr. Bush as icon appears on TV in front of pre-made special backdrops that have the key words of that day's target message repeated for subliminal spin. "Jobs; Trust," "Homeland; Safe," "Bush; DoublePlusGood," etc. So, when all those different conservative constituencies seem to speak directly on message with one abiding voice in a typical 24 hour news cycle, it's only a coincidence.

"What's good for General Bullmoose is good for everybody!"

With the possible exception of Gerald Ford, nobody ever liked being Vice President. The first one, John Adams, declared it, "the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived." The more colorful John Nance Garner said the job "...isn't worth a pitcher of warm spit." Roosevelt laughed, "I would a great deal rather be anything, say professor of history, than Vice President." The great Daniel Webster rejected the job with, "I do not propose to be buried until I am really dead." Harry Truman called the VP job "about as useful as a cow's fifth teat."

Richard Nixon said, "It just is not possible in politics for a vice president to chart out his own course," but there has never been a vice president like Dick Cheney. He's the only VP ever with document classification power. He can now hide any paper or reality he wishes to behind a Top Secret stamp.

America has had 46 vice presidents. The VP must be at least 35 years old. Duties include presiding over the Senate, breaking tie votes, replacing a President removed from office, and going to funerals. The VP lives in a beautiful Washington compound that once housed the Naval Observatory.

Mr. Cheney was born on January 30, 1941 in Lincoln, Nebraska, and raised in Casper, Wyoming. He graduated from the University of Wyoming in 1965, with a degree in political science. He has a wife, Lynne, and two daughters. He's a Methodist. He had three heart attacks, in 1978, 1984, and 1988, and underwent a quadruple bypass in 1988 at age 47.

He's had an interesting career path:

Late '60s, early '70s: Held several mid-level posts in Nixon Administration.

1975-77: Chief of Staff to Gerald Ford.

1978-89: Six-term Republican congressman from Wyoming.

"A strongly conservative voting record," says the Washington Post.

1989-1993: Secretary of Defense to President George Bush 41.

1995-2000: Chairman & CEO of Halliburton, a large energy equipment and construction firm based in Dallas, Texas.

2001-present: Vice president of the United States.

Like many conservatives of his time, Mr. Cheney cycled from public service when the Republicans were in, to more profitable pursuits when they were not. After leaving DoD, and with little practical business experience, he was made CEO of Halliburton, which then became an even bigger recipient of Government work.

His web site bio says he "has had a distinguished career as a businessman and public servant, serving four Presidents and as an elected official. Throughout his service, Mr. Cheney served with duty, honor, and unwavering leadership, gaining him the respect of the American people during trying military times."

He's at

His site doesn't mention that Mr. Cheney also got very rich from his time at Halliburton. Coincidence. Absolutely.

Since even before Mr. Bush's 2000 election squeaker was being arranged in the Supreme Court, Mr. Cheney obviously had his ear. Now, more than halfway through their first term, Mr. Cheney seems to be the man behind the man.

To Democratic questions of "Who's in charge?" come Republican answers of, "What's it to you? Don't you know terrorists are everywhere? Are you a patriot? Those shoes look foreign. Do you live in this neighborhood? May we see your papers please?" Hey, it works. It always does, for a while.

Mr. Cheney's meetings on energy policy in the months before 9/11 are among the most closely held secrets in this administration. He seems to have a finger in every pie. One hopes he is very good at what he does. Good or not it will take us a generation to find out what our government was really secretly planing for us this week.

Mr. Cheney and a select group of his equally patriotic friends have reportedly been connected to a lot of very interesting business and government coincidences since even before taking office. The Military Industrial Complex that Ike warned us of in 1960 was a mere shadow next to the current power monolith backing these people. This is more than conservative ideology, more than the Lord's holy will: this is big bucks!

The far right has something they've never had - their own country.

Mr. Cheney is very bright, but he's riding the tiger, and the awkward questions continue. U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) suggested yesterday on CNN that hanky-panky might have been involved in awarding an open-ended contract worth up to $7 billion to Halliburton via their Kellogg, Brown & Root subsidiary without the impediment of competitive bidding.

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman said in early April that Kellogg, Brown & Root got the contract because of an earlier winning bid in December 2001 to pre-position firefighting assets in the area. The Army has now acknowledge the deal, which has no actual set limits on time or money, allows the subsidiary to actually operate Iraq's oil fields and distribute Iraqi oil. Everybody involved has repeatedly denied influencing the way the Corps awarded the contract.

Another coincidence.

As to who is actually in charge, try to imagine anything getting past Mr. Cheney that would offend big oil, big money, big religion, or upset Saudi Arabia, Israel, Wall Street, the NRA, Mr. Falwell, Mr. Robertson, Mr. Scaife, Mr. Bauer, or the other true patriots.

It is just a coincidence that Mr. Lay of Enron will never do the perp walk.

If America's voters don't realize Vice President Cheney is actually the man to watch next Election Day, then they don't know Dick.

The Republicans are really counting on that.

Brian Rehak is a writer in southern California and can be reached at

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