Cheney's way

Is this what passes for "vigorous" internal debate in the Bush administration?


Tim Grieve
June 26, 2007 4:58PM (UTC)

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino insisted Monday that there's always "vigorous" internal debate when it comes to important issues in the Bush administration. "People have strongly held views and they voice them, and they voice them loudly," she said. "And I am very comfortable with the process that we have in terms of how those debates get settled."

The process? If today's installment of the Washington Post's four-part series on Dick Cheney is any indication, it goes something like this: People say what they're going to say -- briefly -- and then they come around to Cheney's way of thinking.

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From the Post:

"When Edward P. Lazear, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, broached the idea of limiting the popular mortgage tax deduction, he said he quickly dropped it after Cheney told him it would never fly with Congress. 'He's a big timesaver for us in that he takes off the table a lot of things he knows aren't going to go anywhere,' Lazear said. Lazear, who is otherwise known as a fierce advocate for his views, said that he may argue a point with Cheney 'for 10 minutes or so' but that in the end he is always convinced. 'I can't think of a time when I have thought I was right and the vice president was wrong.'"

That, or Lazear likes the idea of keeping his job. As the Post explains, former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill drew Cheney's ire during a November 2002 meeting during which he argued that tax cuts favored by the vice president would put the government on the path to "fiscal crisis." "The vice president really got a sense of where O'Neill was coming from and surmised it was a problem," Cesar Conda, then Cheney's domestic policy advisor, told the Post. "The following month," the Post says, "Cheney would demand O'Neill's resignation."


Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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