AIR FORCE TWO PRESS CORP FORCED TO REPLACE "VICE PRESIDENT" WITH "SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL" On the Vice President's page of the White House web site they keep an archive of all speeches/interviews by the Vice President from February 15, 2001...

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Jeffrey Feldman, Editor-in-Chief
Frameshop, 03/01/2007


On the Vice President's page of the White House web site they keep an archive of all speeches/interviews by the Vice President from February 15, 2001 up to the present day.   Until yesterday, every one of those entries referred to the Vice President as the "Vice President."  But not yesterday.

Suddenly, during his trip abroad, the Vice President decided that the press corp was forbidden from calling him "Vice President," and required that he be called by the mysterious name "Senior Administration Official."

This is so bizarre it almost defies description.

The opening section of the transcript is as follows:

Interview of a Senior Administration Official by the Traveling Press
Aboard Air Force Two
En Route Muscat, Oman

3:07 P.M. (Local)

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The reason the President wanted me to come, obviously, is because of the continuing threat that exists in this part of the world on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border -- a threat to Afghanistan, clearly, in our efforts there, the Taliban, cross-border operations; a threat to Musharraf and his government. There were something like seven or eight suicide bombings in the last week or two in Pakistan. And obviously also, the threat to the homeland from the standpoint of operations and activities of al Qaeda in this part of the world -- for example, you go back to the airliner plot last fall, second generation Pakistani militants living in the U.K., but with ties back in al Qaeda areas along the Pakistan-Afghan border. So we've all got an interest, obviously, in trying to address those issues.

Let me just make one editorial comment here. I've seen some press reporting says, "Cheney went in to beat up on them, threaten them." That's not the way I work. I don't know who writes that, or maybe somebody gets it from some source who doesn't know what I'm doing, or isn't involved in it. But the idea that I'd go in and threaten someone is an invalid misreading of the way I do business.

OK.  Here we have a situation where the Vice President insists that he not be listed as the person being interviewed, and then mentions his own name and refers to himself in the first person in the opening statement. 

What on earth is the logic behind this?

Dan Fromkin at the Washington Post explains:

After nine days of almost completely ignoring the small pool of reporters who diligently followed him around through seven countries, Vice President Cheney yesterday finally agreed to a short group interview. But only on one condition: The reporters would have to agree not to tell anyone that the person they talked to was him.

Apparently, Cheney was not happy with the coverage he was getting from the press, so this was his way of dolling out punishment.  Fromkin calls this approach Cheney's effort to "extort from reporters a ridiculous agreement," citing it as a sign of the contempt Cheney has for the press.  Fromkin's article describes how gleefully the press tore Cheney's anonymity to pieces.

Glenn Greenwald takes Fromkin's observation one step further:

Cheney's petty demand that he not be identified -- like a petty tyrant's demand that his name never pass anyone's lips -- is just an assertion of secrecy and authoriatarian power for its own sake (even under the rule of Emperor Hirohito, "commoners were no longer forbidden to speak his name or look at his face"). But unlike Hirohito, Cheney is an elected public servant of American citizens and this attempt to prohibit journalists from attributing his own words to him is just bizarrely megalomaniacal and contemptuous, particularly in light of how he virtually went out of his way in the very first sentence to make clear that it was him.

Mcjoan at DailyKos concurs, drawing attention to Cheney's cynical attempts to use the press corp to repeat the same, tired argument about leaving Iraq aiding the terrorists.

In fact, as everyone but Cheney seems to be able to see, his visit coincides with the return of the very violent forces that American forces originally put down after September 11, 2001, but before the invasion of Iraq.

In other words, Cheney's visit to the region symbolized that the the dangers in Afghanistan were rapidly approaching the same levels as before the American military actions following September 11, 2001.  The occupation of Iraq has not led us down a path to increased global security, but has undone whatever was accomplished initially.  Hence, Cheney hopped on Air Force Two to have some strong words with leaders in the region--no doubt to write more American checks and tell people that Democrats wanted to appease terrorists.

Once again, Dick Cheney believes that the problems American soldiers face in the Middle East and Central Asia can be solved by PR campaigns launched against American journalists and against the Democratic Party.

Iraq not going well?  Attack the Democratic leadership.

Taliban on the rise in Afghanistan?  Forbid journalists from calling you "Vice President."

Whole sections of the planet gone to hell in a hand basket because of Dick Cheney's policies and pig-headed stubbornness?   Criticize the American public.

Yeah.  That will fix things.

Violence is not the answer to any of these problems, and we should all whole-heartedly condemn whoever was insane enough to launch a suicide bomb attack at the base where the "Senior Administration Official" was staying in Afghanistan.

But the image of local insurgents hurling bombs at a visiting American leader resonates far beyond the lost lives of that event. It hearkens back to a lost era when other parts of the world cut up into pieces and mismanaged by egotistical and detached rulers.  The Austro-Hungarian Empire on the eve of World War I, for example.

The great danger that the Vice President cannot see right before his eyes is not a single suicide bomb, but the entire region bursting into flames as it rips itself asunder.  Not just Iraq, but the whole of the Middle East and Central Asia.

It is the danger we face. But not Cheney.  For him, success is just around the corner.  Just a few more weeks of PR and all will be well.

©  Jeffrey Feldman, Frameshop

© Jeffrey Feldman 2007, Frameshop

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