April 1, 2008 | And the Fool of the Year award goes to Vice.
The first definition of "fool" is "a person lacking in judgment or prudence" (Merriam-Webster Online), and it's always a toss-up as to who is the greater fool, W or his Vice. But Cheney's recent interviews with Martha Raddatz of ABC News settled the issue — at least for the time being.
Raddatz: Let me go back to the Americans. Two-thirds of Americans say it's not worth fighting, and they're looking at the value gain versus the cost in American lives, certainly, and Iraqi lives.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: So?
Q: So -- you don't care what the American people think?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls. Think about what would have happened if Abraham Lincoln had paid attention to polls, if they had had polls during the Civil War. He never would have succeeded if he hadn't had a clear objective, a vision for where he wanted to go, and he was willing to withstand the slings and arrows of the political wars in order to get there. And this President has been very courageous, very consistent, very determined to continue down the course we were on and to achieve our objective. And that's victory in Iraq, that's the establishment of a democracy where there's never been a democracy, it's the establishment of a regime that respects the rights and liberties of their people, as an ally for the United States in the war against terror, and as a positive force for change in the Middle East. That's a huge accomplishment.
It's hard to imagine anyone being more arrogant or tone deaf than that. We've known all along that Cheney, and Bush for that matter, don't give a damn what anyone else thinks, but they usually do a better job of trying to pretend.
And Raddatz, bless her heart, did not let him off the hook. When she interviewed him again a few days later, she asked him about his understanding of the reaction to his comments.
Q: You got a lot of press coverage this week on the comment you made in an interview with me earlier this week. Do you understand how that was perceived? Do you understand that people looked at that comment and looked at the message it sent?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, you didn't really ask me a question, Martha, as I recall. What it had to do with was polls. And the point I wanted to make, and I would make again, is the President of the United States, under these circumstances, dealing with these kinds of issues, can't make decisions based on public opinion polls; he shouldn't. George Bush believes very deeply, and I think absolutely correctly, that he has to do what he thinks is right for the country; that he cannot make judgments based upon what the polls say.
I had the experience, for example, of working for Jerry Ford, and I've never forgotten the travails he went through after he had been President for 30 days when he issued the pardon of former President Nixon. And there was consternation coast to coast. The President had to go up -- chose to go up before the Judiciary Committee of the House and testify in order to put down the rumors that somehow there had been a deal between he and President Nixon, that if he would pardon Nixon then he would get to be President himself. I rode up there with him that day and sat in the hearing room while he answered all those questions. I know how much grief he took for that decision, and it may well have cost him the presidency in '76.
Thirty years later, nearly everybody would say it is exactly the right thing to do; that if he'd paid attention at the time to the polls he never would have done that. But he demonstrated, I think, great courage and great foresight, and the country was better off for what Jerry Ford did that day. And 30 years later everybody recognized it.
And I have the same strong conviction the issues we're dealing with today -- the global war on terror, the war in Afghanistan and Iraq -- that all of the tough calls the President has had to make, that 30 years from now it will be clear that he made the right decisions, and that the effort we mounted was the right one, and that if we had listened to the polls, we would have gotten it wrong. You can disagree with me, but that's what I believe; I know that's what he believes. My comments the other day should be taken in that light.
Note: That's 400 words, none of which is responsive to the question.
Q: But you understand that some people, that they thought, aha, that Dick Cheney, he doesn't care about --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Look, there are a lot of people out there who don't agree with me, Martha, about a lot of things. But I'm -- if I wanted to be loved, I ought to be a TV correspondent, not a politician. (Laughter.)
Q: Believe me, we're not always loved either. (Laughter)
The third definition of "fool" is "a harmlessly deranged person or one lacking in common powers of understanding" (Merriam-Webster Online), but unfortunately it doesn't fit. Cheney is not "harmlessly deranged" — he is criminally insane!
The runner-up award must go to W himself. He, too, would be considered harmlessly deranged, except that he's still Commander in Chief, which renders him decidedly dangerous.
I sincerely wish that at this point I could say, April Fool! and reveal that all this was made up.
Alas, that wouldn't be true.
Last updated on Apr 13, 2018