Rumsfeld promptly sends Cheney to Kentucky, where he pokes around and meets with the Turners. There was no question, Cheney writes, that the funding was helping the Turners. But his job “was to find out whether it was illegal.” He told Rumsfeld, “There doesn’t seem to be enough evidence to charge illegality.” Rumsfeld overrode the Nunn veto.
There are a few elements here that are particularly important for those of us outside of Washington, D.C. to understand. First, those inside Washington, D.C. live inside their own little world, looking myopically at the tasks in front of them and the funding they need to accomplish those objectives. They do not think bigger – why do we need an EOE? Who should pay for it? Why is funding more important than principle? – and so they end up perpetuating and growing the status quo.
Second, those inside Washington, D.C. see politics as a friendly dance rather than as the important competition for the future that it truly is. They are playing on a whole different field from the rest of us. In sports, many fans really dislike the opposing team. They are mortally offended when a member of that team cheats; they curse the referee when the ref allows that cheating to take place. They don’t want players from opposing teams hanging out with each other. But the players on the different teams rarely dislike each other. They talk before the games and go out to dinner afterward. It is left to the fans to fuel the simmering resentment that makes sports a draw.
The same holds true in politics. Those of us who follow politics want to see the animosity that should naturally arise from a total conflict of ideology. We don’t want to see John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi lunching together – we want to see them not speaking to one another, because they should be that committed to their positions. The unspoken logic is that if they hang out together, they will come up with backroom deals together which will sell out both sides. And that logic is, more often than not, correct.
Cheney’s book is a must-read because of his take on foreign policy, where he truly is a bulldog – that’s where the iconoclast Cheney who tells Pat Leahy to f— himself comes through loud and clear. But when it comes to domestic policy, even our biggest Republican bulldogs are spending too much time in the bowels of government, learning to get along with the Democratic fat cats.
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