Questioning why Vice President Cheney has been “publicly silent and mostly out of sight” since the Iraq Study Group issued its report, U.S. News reports that a former Cheney adviser believes the vice president is now cutting-and-running from the “grave and deteriorating” situation in Iraq:
“I think we’ll see less of him than ever,” says the associate. “Iraq is now Bush’s baby, and Cheney doesn’t want to be tarred with it in the eyes of historians.”
Regardless of the actions Cheney takes in the future, history will not forget that he has been at the center of the administration’s most egregious attempts to both sell the war (“we believe [Saddam] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons”) and falsely report the situation on the ground (“I think they’re in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency”).
Based on conversations with sources inside the White House, U.S. News notes there may be an alternative explanation for Cheney’s disappearance:
White House insiders say Cheney is playing an inside game, advising President Bush privately not to change course too much in Iraq, not to withdraw U.S. troops anytime soon, and not to talk directly with the hard-line regimes in Iran and Syria about the situation.
Cheney, an architect of current policy, is waiting for Bush to decide, perhaps early in the new year, what to do next before he speaks out. At that point, insiders say, he will go public to sell the president’s decision around the country, especially in speeches to conservative audiences who still have a high regard for Cheney, even though his popularity with the public is very low.
Cheney is reportedly advocating taking the side of the Shiites in Iraq’s civil war, a position which caused him to be “summoned” recently to Saudi Arabia and has stoked fears of a broader war in the Middle East. Whatever motivations Cheney has for remaining publicly silent, he seems intent on pushing his failed ideological vision to its disastrous ends, while escaping accountability for it.