Saturday, June 23, 2007

Rudy 'n' Dick
Move over, or at least enough to resume AIS. Meaning that the desk is built and everything's plugged in.

One probably wouldn't expect Dick Cheney to hold much brief for Rudy Giuliani's presidential aspirations; it just doesn't feel right that secretive and relentlessly right-wing Dick would support flamboyant Rudy, whose perceived "social liberalism" distinguishes him in the Republican presidential field. But given two significant traits the two seem to have in common, I'm starting to wonder.

One is the total conflation of force with foreign policy. Cheney, of course, is well-known for his hyper-militaristic, extra-paranoid foreign policy worldview. He's rumored as aggressively pushing for a confrontation with Iran, he's against closing Guantanamo Bay, he lobbied against anti-torture legislation. Giuliani is attempting to make up for his total lack of national security knowledge or credentials--and, as always, wring every tiny drop of support from the bloody shirt of September 11--by constantly referring to the need for "action" and "leadership" in our dealings abroad. Given his audience of Republican primary primates, it's dubious that this will be heard as "forcefully engage in diplomatic processes and leverage our 'soft power' to achieve consensus foreign policy goals."

The second is an evidently absolute sense of entitlement, an unwillingness to acknowledge any limits or external standards. (One might call it a totalitarian mindset; another word could be "sociopathic.")

As you've probably read, Cheney this week resorted to yet another dodge in his eternal battle against oversight and accountability: after years of claiming executive privilege on issues of secrecy, Cheney now claims that the Office of the Vice-President is exempt from obligations to the National Archives because it's not part of the executive branch. Maureen Dowd, whom I've ripped for her pseudo-sophisticated focus on trivia, turns her same bitchy talents to better use on Cheney:

I guess a man who can wait 14 hours before he lets it dribble out that he shot his friend in the face has no limit on what he thinks he can keep secret. Still, it’s quite a leap to go from hiding in a secure, undisclosed location in the capital to hiding in a secure, undisclosed location in the Constitution.

Dr. No used to just blow off the public and Congress as he cooked up his shady schemes. Now, in a breathtaking act of arrant arrogance, he’s blowing off his own administration.
On Thursday, Mr. Waxman revealed that after four years of refusing to cooperate with the government unit that oversees classified documents, the vice president tried to shut down the unit rather than comply with the law ensuring that sensitive data is protected. The National Archives appealed to the Justice Department, but who knows how much justice there is at Justice, now that the White House has so blatantly politicized it?

Cheney’s office denied doing anything wrong, but Cheney’s office is also denying it’s an office. Tricky Dick Deuce declared himself exempt from a rule that applies to everyone else in the executive branch, instructing the National Archives that the Office of the Vice President is not an “entity within the executive branch” and therefore is not subject to presidential executive orders.
Cheney and Cheney’s Cheney, David Addington, his equally belligerent, ideological and shadowy lawyer and chief of staff, have no shame. After claiming executive privilege to withhold the energy task force names and protect Scooter Libby, they now act outraged that Vice should be seen as part of the executive branch.

Cheney, they argue, is the president of the Senate, so he’s also part of the legislative branch. Vice is casting himself as a constitutional chimera, an extralegal creature with the body of a snake and the head of a sea monster. It’s a new level of gall, to avoid accountability by saying you’re part of a legislative branch that you’ve spent six years trying to weaken.

That's chutzpah. But perhaps no more so than Giuliani's unwillingness to part ways with a supporter who abused children:

Anyone who has followed the career of Republican presidential contender Rudy Giuliani knows the value he places on personal loyalty. Loyalty is what inspired the former mayor of New York to make Bernard Kerik, once his personal driver, the commissioner of the New York Police Department, and then a partner in his consulting firm, and then to suggest him to President Bush as a potential head of the Department of Homeland Security.

After revelations about Kerik's personal history derailed his bid for the federal post, Giuliani demonstrated that there were limits to loyalty. He has distanced himself from Kerik, who resigned from Giuliani's firm and later pleaded guilty to corruption charges. Giuliani has not, however, sought to distance himself from another, much closer friend whose personal baggage is also inconvenient, and would send most would-be presidents running.

Giuliani employs his childhood friend Monsignor Alan Placa as a consultant at Giuliani Partners despite a 2003 Suffolk County, N.Y., grand jury report that accuses Placa of sexually abusing children, as well as helping cover up the sexual abuse of children by other priests. Placa, who was part of a three-person team that handled allegations of abuse by clergy for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, is referred to as Priest F in the grand jury report. The report summarizes the testimony of multiple alleged victims of Priest F, and then notes, "Ironically, Priest F would later become instrumental in the development of Diocesan policy in response to allegations of sexual abuse of children by priests."

Five years after he was suspended from his duties because of the abuse allegations, Placa is currently listed as "priest in residence" at St. Aloysius Church in Great Neck, N.Y., where close friend Brendan Riordan serves as pastor, and officially lives at the rectory there with Riordan. In addition, Placa co-owns a penthouse apartment in Manhattan with Riordan, the latest in a half-dozen properties the two men have owned in common at various times since the late 1980s.

Placa has worked for Giuliani Partners since 2002. As of June 2007, he remains on the payroll. "He is currently employed here," Giuliani spokeswoman Sunny Mindel confirmed to Salon, adding that Giuliani "believes Alan has been unjustly accused." Mindel declined to discuss what role Placa plays with the consulting firm, or how much he is paid.

The full piece details the case against Placa; read it for yourself, but it sounds pretty strong to me. It also describes their lifelong friendship, and I suppose that one could credit Giuliani for personal loyalty. But I think the question is more one of judgment. The allegations against Kerik didn't show up all at once at the end of 2004; they were old, old news to Rudy. Similarly, the allegations against Russell Harding, the son of a political crony whom Giuliani appointed to head a New York City agency and turned out to be a fan of child porn who ran up hundreds of thousands of dollars on the city's dime, were known during Giuliani's mayoralty. In both cases, he did nothing, and with Kerik he only cut ties after Bernie's crimes came to light.

It's as if he's giving Cheney a run for the brass ring in the balls department. Maybe that shows a kindred spirt. It's also probably worth noting in passing that Giuliani's "liberal" positions--on abortion and gay rights--are non-issues for Cheney. While he's anti-choice, it hasn't been an issue he's pursued through his career. And Dick's most (maybe only) humanizing trait is his uninterest in even condemning, much less cutting off, his lesbian daughter just to placate the Christatollah Right. They disagree on guns, but that's likely far overshadowed by Giuilani's burgeoning anti-tax, anti-regulation platform--something Cheney shares and that helps bind both to the Norquist wing of the party.

Even if Cheney did favor Giuliani, though, I'm not sure what he could do to help him. He wouldn't endorse Rudy, and I doubt he could use his evil powers, which seem to be governmental in nature, very easily for political purposes. What's scary is the thought of a nut like Giuliani in the presidency, armed with the wildly expanded powers Cheney has tried to seize for the job. At least for now, the sociopath tries to stay behind the scenes.

No comments: