Joe Conason's Journal

Is Dick Cheney dragging the country toward war despite the president? Plus: New GOP lies about Social Security.

By Salon Staff

Published September 3, 2002 1:53PM (EDT)

Ari's New Material
White House funnyman Ari Fleischer has a great, Jon Lovitz-style bit in this morning's Washington Post, where he insists that there is "no difference" on Iraq between the secretary of state and the vice president. Yeah, that's the ticket! Dana Milbank, the Post's White House correspondent, is too alert to miss the obvious differences, however, between one official who is trying to encourage new weapons inspections there, and another who says such inspections aren't worth the trouble. For readers who were barbecuing rather than browsing over the holiday, the Powell-Cheney dispute flared again in Newsweek, which reported that the veep overstepped his instructions from the president in a warlike speech last week. (Am I the only one who has noticed that it's slightly weird for a vice president to be driving the country toward war?)

Meanwhile, Time suggested that Powell will resign no later than the end of 2004. (I suspect this may be true, despite routine denials, because I've heard that a top Powell deputy has been quietly seeking a position with a very prestigious nonprofit.)

Pants on Fire
Rep. Tom Davis kicked off the real campaign season Sunday on "Meet the Press" with unabashed mendacity. It's amazing that smoke didn't start to rise from beneath him. Davis, who heads the National Republican Congressional Committee, has long feared the potential impact of the president's plan to privatize Social Security. Now, as the issue cuts against his candidates, he simply lies about their positions and the views of their Democratic opponents. There's no polite expression for what Davis did when Tim Russert asked him about his party's privatization albatross; the House campaign chairman enunciated a carefully planned, premeditated series of falsehoods (I count at least eight in the transcript). The lies were so specific because the Virginia Republican clearly expected Russert to interrogate him on this subject. Neither the host nor Davis' Democratic counterpart Nita Lowey were adequately prepared to break it all down. But the Liberal Oasis Web site did just that yesterday (scroll down to item). The site's excellent, point-by-point refutation of the audacious Davis features links that prove him wrong.

Thune's Bogus Tune
Evasions, falsifications and obfuscations about Social Security are rife in certain Senate races as well -- including the closely fought South Dakota battle between Republican Rep. John Thune and Democratic incumbent Tim Johnson. Thune has been trying to turn the issue against Johnson by claiming in radio and TV ads that the Democrat favors privatization. In fact, as Hans Riemer points out here, the opposite is true. Riemer and the progressive activists at Campaign for America's Future have researched the positions of candidates in more than a dozen close races; their findings are available here. (Requires Adobe Acrobat.)

Krugman on Greenspan
He's heard enough excuses from the venerated Fed chief.

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