Jewish World Review March 17, 2003 / 13 Adar II 5763
"Cheney Rations" Issued on Sunday Shows
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | As President Bush flew off for a final round of diplomacy in the Azores, Vice-President Dick Cheney reprised his rare, but critical role as the Administration's ultimate "go to guy."
Cheney sat for the full hour on Meet the Press and for a shorter stint on Face the Nation. It was his first Sunday appearance since September 8, 2002. His profile has been so low that even jokes about his "undisclosed location" have disappeared.
It's easy to see why Cheney rations his appearances. Granting rare interviews increases the chance that the interviewer will be less confrontational and decrease the amount of material an interviewer has to find inconsistencies. Meet the Press host Tim Russert had to go back to a campaign interview in 2000 to find a Cheney quote regarding the first Gulf War that seemed to conflict with the Administration's current diplomatic strategy.
The Vice-President also has the rare quality of not allowing his facial expression to betray any discomfort with a question, abetted by questioning that is more respectful than that used with lesser officials. He turned aside criticism from former colleague Brent Scowcroft: "He is occasionally wrong and this one those instances." He deftly sidestepped a question about President Bush's "show their cards" formulation for the UN Security Council: "It has a certain appeal."
Little news was made in Cheney's two appearances. "We are in the final stages of diplomacy" and "close to the end of diplomatic efforts," he said, echoing a refrain that pundits have been using for weeks. He predicted any war with Iraq would end "relatively quickly," defining that as "weeks, not months."
Cheney attributed unfavorable world opinion about the US and its diplomacy to "new and unique circumstances." "The rest of the world hasn't come to grips with the post 9/11 world."
Matter-of-factly, Cheney criticized the French by reviewing their diplomatic history on Iraq. He took pains to point out that before President Bush's response to 9/11, there had been "no credible response" to terror attacks. He denied that President Bush was a "cowboy," instead praising the President's "great capability to cut to the heart of the issue."
Asked by Russert why there was no pre-emptive strike planned on North Korea, Cheney answered, "I didn't come to announce any new military ventures or to take any off the table."
Secretary of State Colin Powell made surprise appearances on Fox News Sunday and This Week; he was not scheduled as of Friday. There was little daylight between his position and that of Cheney. In fact, in response to a question by This Week host George Stephanopolous, Powell denied accounts of dissension, saying "we went as a team" to the UN. Powell also denied as "not accurate" reports that he opposed General Tommy Franks' initial war plan.
Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio, on This Week, did confirm that Spain was not pleased with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's recent comments. After praising Powell and the State Department, she said pointedly, "Some comments from other departments have not helped us."
Bill and Juan, Together at Last
NPR's Juan Williams, not normally an ally, said Kristol was "absolutely right on."
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Let Bygones be Bygones
Cheney on Fries
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03/10/03: Administration heavyweights complete President's press conference