When I was growing up in D.C. years ago, any particularly outrageous lie or excuse was likely to be met with the stinging rhetorical question: "How can you even fix your face to say something like that?" When Bill Clinton stuck out his thumb and insisted he had never had sexual relations with that woman, people all over the world could be heard asking, "how can he even fix his face to say something like that?"
I find myself asking that a lot lately.
Now Vice President Cheney opines that the New York Times should be prosecuted for running stories on this administration's broad-ranging efforts to evade constitutional protections and spy on phone calls and banking transactions without benefit of search warrants.
As it happens, in the months after 9/11 President Bush himself in a series of public statements alerted terrorists and people holding annuities alike that the United States government was monitoring bank transactions. So the New York Times stories could come as no real surprise to our enemies abroad.
But look, this is the same Dick Cheney who sent his underlings to leak information, information that had till that very moment been classified, to a reporter at the very same New York Times, anonymously sourced, in the effort to bolster public support for the coming invasion of Iraq. We now know that Cheney let other sections of the same classified documents that would challenge his view remain secret, while he, in an act that was itself secret, revealed supposedly high-level secret information to the NY Times for purely political purposes.
And yes, this is the same Dick Cheney who we now know directed others to reveal to reporters at the NY Times and elsewhere the identity of a covert CIA operative, again for purely political ends.
Cheney's defense appears to be that if he releases information, it is by definition no longer classified. Of course, none of us knew he was authorized to declassify information until he made that announcement out of the blue to Britt Hume. Clearly this is a defense arranged after the offense.
Cheney has been leaker-in-chief throughout this administration. Even as he moves behind the scenes to keep Scooter Libby out of jail, he wants to prosecute the NT Times. Only days after Karl Rove ducks an indictment, Cheney wants the full force of government prosecution to fall upon the very press to whom Cheney, Rove et al have been merrily leaking all along.
I think the real reason Cheney always holds his head at that odd angle is that he's fixing his face to tell yet another outrageous lie.
Nikki Giovanni used to ask, "ain't they got no shame?"