Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Rumor Of My Demise Has Been Greatly Exaggerated

So, famously, spake Mark Twain, combatting constant rumors about his death in the press.

Parsing DeFrank on the Rumor of the death of the Bush-Cheney Special Relationship.

Thomas DeFrank, writing in the Daily News, has a new installment of his saga on the cooling of the relationship between Cheney and Bush. Titled, appropriately enough, With policies under fire, Bush-Cheney relationship cools.
The CIA leak scandal has peeled back the veil on the most closely held White House secret of all: the subtle but unmistakable erosion in the bond between President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Multiple sources close to Bush told the New York Daily News that while the vice president remains his boss's valued political partner and counselor, his clout has lessened - primarily as a result of issues arising from the Iraq war.
Etc. There's more in that vein. Which of course causes the cockles of Democrat's positively to tremble with schadenfreude.

So what I'm trying to figure out is how "to read" this ongoing story.

Since we don't know who is leaking these vignettes to DeFrank, yet he informs us the story has multiple sources, I'm still left with a series of questions about it.

Is this story true? If so, true in what way and to what extent? How much cooling is there? First of all, how much of a story is it? After five years, some fluctuation or erosion or friction in even the closest political alliances is natural. His boldest statement, which gives the strongest support to this scenario is this part of the narrative:
"The public side of the relationship hasn't changed," a close presidential loyalist said. "The private side of the relationship is not to the degree it used to be. Cheney has been his gray-haired senior adviser. That's the void that needs to be filled."
A close presidential loyalist could be anyone, particularly with some paleo-conservative leanings. Which leads neatly to our second question.

Is this scenario wishful thinking on the part of the leakers? Are they leaking to help facilitate the outcome they so devoutly desire? To support this claim, we have the following clue.
These sources also said Libby's indictment was a wake-up call for White House aides who have long believed the Cheney national security operation has enjoyed too much of a free hand in administration policymaking.

"Cheney never operated without a degree of (presidential) license, but there are people around who cannot believe some of the advice (Bush) has been given.
Here at least there is a reference to sources, plural. But we are also told, "The relationship is not what it was," a presidential counselor said. "There has been some distance for some time." A presidential counselor could be anyone, close or distant. Meanwhile what is the agenda of that counselor? And why is s/he leaking in an Administration famous for its dislike of such leaks. To what purpose? Which leads to the third question.

Is it planted disinformation because at the moment it will "benefit" the administration if there looks to be an unusual distance between Cheney and Bush, at this point of vulnerability that has arisen from the Libby indictments? To add some weight to this contention, we find:
The source declined to offer any specifics, citing the extraordinary sensitivity surrounding the Bush-Cheney relationship.
So, reference to only one source at this point, and no specifics. Not entirely convincing.

Furthermore, Bush continues to speak eloquently and passionately about the mission in Iraq. What particular of Cheney's advice on the war does he disagree with now? That part, the article does not divulge leaving the misleading impression that the President now questions the mission in Iraq in total.

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