Monday, October 11, 2004

Cheney's Lips Were Moving. And the Final Jeopardy Question Is?

We get the third presidential debate here in Arizona on Wednesday; for local folks, I'll be doing the Democratic half of the spin on Channel 12 (KPNX-TV) here in Phoenix with Sidney Hay doing the Republican side for the first local half-hour after the debate. If we're not on Channel 12, we'll be shunted over to PAX-TV, which is Channel 51. Meanwhile, the Coppersmith family was well-represented at the St. Louis debate, on the campus at Washington University. You can see our daughter's photos of the festivities here. For those of you who watched MSNBC after the debate, remember that Kerry-Edwards sign that kept moving next to Chris Matthews's head? That was America’s Favorite College Freshman (TM) who, despite the rain, did her bit for the American political process.

Newspaper view available for a while here.

East Valley Tribune, Oct. 10, 2004

Maybe we should cut Dick Cheney some slack. Anybody could get a Web site address wrong; he’s old enough that perhaps this Internet stuff is beyond him. So when instead of answering an attack at the debate over his tenure as Halliburton’s CEO, Cheney instead told people to go to, which redirected all visitors to a Web site headlined, “Why We Must Not Re-elect President Bush: A Personal Message from George Soros.” (If you visit, tell them Dick Cheney sent you.)

Probably Cheney meant to tell people to go to for responses to the Halliburton charges. Unfortunately for Cheney, that site tells you that “Edwards was talking about Cheney’s responsibility for earlier Halliburton troubles. And in fact, Edwards was mostly right.” Gulp.

OK, so perhaps Cheney really didn’t want to accept as the last word, given how they consider several of his statements, like the claim that Kerry voted to increase taxes “98 times,” as bogus. The Factcheck folks say that Cheney’s 98 number is “an inflated figure that counts multiple votes on the same tax bills, and also counts votes on budget measures that only set tax targets but don’t actually bring about tax increases by themselves.” Oops.

After all, those are numbers, and numbers are hard. Maybe Cheney really wanted to explain that he’s never “suggested there’s a connection between Iraq and 9/11” -- except for all those times he did suggest it, including claiming that Iraq was “the geographical base of the terrorists who had us under assault for many years, but most especially on 9/11.” Ahem.

Maybe Cheney wanted us to focus on how he told Edwards that his “hometown newspaper has taken to calling you Senator Gone.” Unfortunately, that newspaper is a thrice-weekly small paper in Pinehurst, North Carolina, which isn’t Edwards’ hometown, and which used the term once in an editorial 15 months ago. The newspaper itself says they haven’t “taken to calling” Edwards anything. Sigh.

Naturally, for Cheney, newspaper stuff is hard; after all, Cheney’s boss admits he doesn’t read the papers and instead lets his crackerjack staff tell him everything he needs to know. And then there’s last Thursday, when the Tribune’s headline read “Iraq threat report refutes case for war,” but Cheney claimed the same report actually justified the war. But then you know all about liberal media like the Tribune.

So perhaps Cheney instead wanted everybody to know that the first time he’d ever met John Edwards “was when you walked on the stage tonight.” After all, Cheney said he’s the Senate’s presiding office and “up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they’re in session” -- which turns out to be 2 out of the past 127 Tuesdays. To Cheney, that’s what “most” is. And unfortunately, Cheney has met Edwards at least three times, and we’ve got pictures of the two of them together.

So who are you going to believe: Dick Cheney, or your lying eyes?

Maybe Cheney habitually overstates his case -- repeatedly. Perhaps these false claims, misstatements, and flat-out wrong assertions by Cheney are small potatoes, harmless exaggerations, mere bagatelles. I might agree that nobody should ever evaluate candidates for national office on the basis of such minor slips of the tongue, but I found these quotes from two titanic statesmen, giants of our history, recalled by, that perhaps we shouldn’t let such trifles slide:

Statesman 1: “It’s a pattern of just saying whatever it takes to win.” Asked whether the discrepancy was a big deal, he said “There’s a pattern of exaggerations and stretches to try to win votes, and it says something about leadership.”

Statesman 2 was “puzzled and saddened to learn” about such misrepresentations. These debates are “a job interview with the American people. I’ve learned over the years that when somebody embellishes their resume in a job interview, you don’t hire them.”

You may have guessed by now that Statesman 1 is George W. Bush and Statesman 2 is Dick Cheney, campaigning in 2000. Dick Chenocchio, call your office; your nose is growing.

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