The new Vanity Fair has what looks like a fascinating oral history of the Bush administration from insiders who are more chatty than I'd expected they would be. The angle that's getting the headline is how Bush's presidency basically ended after Katrina -- no surprise there -- but I think former Colin Powell aide Lawrence Wilkerson's comments on Dick Cheney are a lot more revealing:
Lawrence Wilkerson, top aide and later chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, said that as a new president, Bush was like Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee whom critics said lacked knowledge about foreign affairs. When Bush first came into office, he was surrounded by experienced advisers like Vice President Dick Cheney and Powell, who Wilkerson said ended up playing damage control for the president.
"It allowed everybody to believe that this Sarah Palin-like president — because, let's face it, that's what he was — was going to be protected by this national-security elite, tested in the cauldrons of fire," Wilkerson said, adding that he considered Cheney probably the "most astute, bureaucratic entrepreneur" he'd ever met.
"He became vice president well before George Bush picked him," Wilkerson said of Cheney. "And he began to manipulate things from that point on, knowing that he was going to be able to convince this guy to pick him, knowing that he was then going to be able to wade into the vacuums that existed around George Bush — personality vacuum, character vacuum, details vacuum, experience vacuum."
This is what many of us have suspected from Day One, isn't it?....that Cheney, who Bush picked to head his vice presidential "search" committee in 2000 after clinching the nomination that spring, rigged the process to get himself selected -- and then took great advantage of that relationship to pursue his agenda of militaristic geo-politics with a dallop of torture.
This is one of the great mysteries of the last nine years -- just how exactly did Cheney manipulate the process so that Bush selected him?