Dick Cheney underwent surgery Saturday so that doctors could replace part of the equipment that monitors his heartbeat, and NPR's Daniel Schorr offered up the obvious joke: During his brief period of incapacitation, Cheney had turned over the powers of the presidency to George W. Bush.
In an Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post, former Vice President Walter Mondale explains why it's not so funny. Cheney, Mondale says, has engaged in "an unprecedented attempt not only to shape administration policy but, alarmingly, to limit the policy options sent to the president ... Through his vast government experience, through the friends he had been able to place in key positions and through his considerable political skills, he has been increasingly able to determine the answers to questions put to the president -- because he has been able to determine the questions."
It was Cheney, Mondale reminds us, "who persuaded President Bush to sign an order that denied access to any court by foreign terrorism suspects," and it was Cheney who "determined that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to enemy combatants captured in Afghanistan and Iraq." And as Josh Marshall notes this morning, the editors of the New York Times apparently know that it was Cheney who dispatched Andy Card and Alberto Gonzales to John Ashcroft's hospital room back in 2004.