Sinclair Lewis once said “When fascism comes to American it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” Dick Cheney’s new autobiography goes light on the religion, and doubles up on the flag, apple pie, kids, grandkids and down home homilies. It is the literary equivalent of a fluffernutter – an amazing amount of goo poured between slices of white bread.
I read Cheney’s book In My Time because I wanted to see how he could explain his political history inside the constricting boundaries of the official reality. He did – he came up with a complete autobiography that tiptoes through his entire chronology. As a creative venture, it is a formidable achievement. There is, however, little reason to classify it as non-fiction.
I enjoyed numerous tidbits. For personal reasons, I am always interested to learn more about Cheney and Rumsfeld during the Ford Administration engineering Rumsfeld to become the youngest Secretary of Defense, replaced by Cheney as White House Chief of Staff, and engineering George H. W. Bush in to run the CIA to help shut down the Church Commission and do damage control regarding its revelations.
Then, of course, there is one twist and turn of dirtball after another. Cheney always blames the victim. Paul O’Neill leaves Treasury because he is not effective, rather than his efforts to illuminate the actual level of debt and contingent liabilities was bad news for budgeting aggressive tax cuts and military spending plans or his insistence on providing a more realistic estimate of what the Iraq War would cost threatened support for the global empire. Cheney’s rewrite of his relationship with Colin Powell and Powell’s presentation at the United Nations has had Powell’s former chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson offering to testify if Cheney stands trial. The failure of the Iraqi infrastructure can be blamed on the Iraqi people – let’s not mention the ample documentation that the failure was engineered from the White House.
There is no mention of all the money missing from the US government, including Rumsfeld’s description on September 10, 2001 of $2.3 trillion missing from DOD. I was most eager for Cheney to provide an explanation of his famous quote that “deficits don’t matter.” Alas there was none.
There are some tidbits about who’s who in the Cheney camp. Cheney was chairman of Halliburton when Halliburton did the first prison construction for Cornell Corrections, a company started by a Bechtel employee with backing from Dillon Read. On the night of the George W. Bush election in 2000, we are informed that insiders in the Cheney suite that night are Nick Brady, former chairman of Dillon, Read and then chairman of Darby Overseas Investment, Ltd. as well as James Baker, senior counselor to the Carlye Group, both of whom served in the cabinet with Cheney under President George H. W. Bush. Latter references indicate that his personal aides included a son of a former Dillon partner who is currently a partner in Saragota Partners, a small private equity firm that includes a number of the investors in the Cornell Corrections deal. There are gracious references to George Schultz, former Bechtel executive and, through the Bechtel family investment, Dillon Read board member.
One of the more delightful Cheney-isms is his admonition of Vladimir Putin, warning of the dangers of making a former member of the secret police the head of the nation. What about the fact that the President he served as Secretary of Defense was the former head of the CIA? As he helped engineer Bush into the CIA as White House Chief of Staff in the Ford Administration, surely, he would appreciate that the US had the former head of our secret police in the top spot long before Putin came along.
But certainly, the very best yarn in Cheney’s re-write of history is his presentation of Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan as someone who tried to prevent the housing bubble with the help of the Bush Administration but was stopped by Congress from limiting the profligate behavior of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Score another one for Mr. Cheney’s demonic chutzpah.
I confess that at some point I could no longer tell the difference between Cheney’s lies to himself, his family, and his readers and his efforts to explain it all within the official reality – in which we tell each other lies about our history, our financial situation, 9/11, our use of torture, our building of a global warfare machine and the computer voting that put Dick Cheney one heartbeat away from the oval office.
Col. Lawrence Wilkerson on National Security
Solari Report (5 May 11)
Seymour Hersh: Secret US Forces Carried Out Assassinations in a Dozen Countries, Including in Latin America
Democracy Now (31 March 09)
George H. W. Bush Administration
Gerald R. Ford Ford Administration
George W. Bush Administration
Lewis Scooter Libby
Donald H. Rumsfeld
No End in Sight