Cheney speaks!

Emerging from his hibernation, the vice president toured the Gulf Coast Thursday -- and it was good.

Published September 8, 2005 5:20PM (EDT)

Salon editorial fellow Aaron Kinney has found the vice president.

Dick Cheney headed to the Gulf Coast today to visit the regions that were devastated last week by Hurricane Katrina. It was the first time the vice president has appeared or spoken publicly since one of the worst natural disasters in American history obliterated New Orleans and the coast of Mississippi. He spent much of last week vacationing in Wyoming and, reportedly, mansion-hunting in a tony locale on the Chesapeake Bay.

"I think the progress we're making is significant," Cheney told reporters. "I think the performance, in general, at least in terms of the information I've received from locals, is definitely very impressive."

The AP reported that Cheney acknowledged the difficulties that lie ahead: "That's not to say there's not an awful lot of work to be done -- there is."

So now we know that the vice presidents lips havent been sewn shut. Thats a good start. But theres more that he needs to say. After all, he does run the Bush administrations energy policy. With oil platforms in the Gulf ripped from their moorings, oil and natural gas supplies and pipelines disrupted and gas prices topping $3 a gallon in much of the United States, one might expect the former CEO of oil services giant Halliburton to offer his assessment of the situation. Perhaps some reassuring words to American consumers might be in order, given the broad impact the energy shortage in the Gulf is expected to have on the economy. But instead -- nothing.

Then again, is this really so surprising? Cheney and the rest of the White House didnt care much about how Iraq would be rebuilt following the American invasion. That was the boring part. They just assumed it would be easy. Rebuilding an entire region of the United States following a natural disaster? Dick Cheney doesnt seem to have much interest in that either. As New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman said of the Bush administration in his column Wednesday: "These are people so much better at inflicting pain than feeling it, so much better at taking things apart than putting them together."

By Aaron Kinney

Aaron Kinney is a writer in San Francisco. He has a blog.

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