To quote Patrick Henry in the PBS series, Liberty; “I begin to smell a rat.” We were inundated last week with stories about claims on behalf of the Vice President that his office doesn’t have to comply with certain executive orders issued by the Current Occupant earlier in his administration. The orders require reports on how offices within the executive branch handle sensitive materials. The reason for non-compliance, the vice president is not part of the Executive branch. Hunh?
When the constitution set up the office of vice president, it assigned the occupant of the office two responsibilities. To become president if necessary, and to act as president of the senate. And as president of the senate, the Veep has only one responsibility. To cast the tie breaking vote if the floor vote is tied. Ergo, the argument went, the Veep is really part of the legislative branch. The claim wasn’t pressed that hard once the uproar started. It pretty much faded by the end of the week. But, oh my, in the meantime, most of the media and the cartoonists had a field day with their outrage at this ridiculous claim. And most of us overlooked something.
We’re dealing with an administration that has media manipulation down to a science. I’m betting that Dick Cheney never believed that claiming that the VP is part of the legislative branch was going to fly very high. So while we’ve all been desperately trying to keep track of the purple pea in the shell game where did all other colored peas go? And I got taken in too. I forgot that the more outrageous the claims this administration makes, the less likely it is that they really believe them and the more likely they’re hoping we’ll react like one of Pavlov’s dogs when it smells a nice, juicy steak. And most of us did.
I’m not sure which administration opinion of the American citizen is more contemptible. The apparent assumption that most Americans would actually believe this crap? Or the cynical (and apparently accurate) assurance that the attention of majority of the media and the American people can be diverted, again? By then, what’s really being hidden has been successfully consigned to a closet in the basement. Preferably behind a moat swarming with hungry piranas and seeded with land mines. And if we get too close to the hiding place, another off the wall claim is made and the pack is off again, barking noisily and industriously up the wrong tree. Again.
Frankly, it’s getting damned embarrassing.