Leaving No Tracks, part 4 of the Washington Post series on Cheney's power, focuses on how he is able to influence policy and decisions for the administration and not have much traceable back to him. A great description comes from Paul Hoffman who owed his placement in the government to Cheney's influence.
"His genius," Hoffman said, is that "he builds networks and puts the right people in the right places, and then trusts them to make well-informed decisions that comport with his overall vision."No one ever has to second guess what the v.p. wants when he contacts them, because they know beforehand what it is.
To add an air of legitimacy to the recommendations and decisions Mr. Cheney makes, he also puts into place experts in the field for which he focuses.
Aides praise Cheney's habit of reaching down to officials who are best informed on a subject he is tackling. But the effect of his calls often leads those mid-level officials scrambling to do what they presume to be his bidding.There is no second-guessing. Everyone knows his/her role.
What happens to anyone who doesn't fit into the scheme of things? Christie Todd Whitman is a perfect example. As head of the EPA, she was responsible for overseeing a number of environmental policies that not only had been in place for a while but also those that Mr. Bush had made promises.
Mr. Cheney, on the other hand, was always known to be pro-industry before anything else. On the issue of easing pollution rules for aging power and oil refining plants he wanted action and he wanted it fast. Whitman cautioned that a quick decision could be a grand political problem. Cheney didn't care.
Even after meeting directly with Bush she knew that the decision had been made. She chose to resign instead of put her name to something in which she couldn't abide. At the time the reason given for her departure was that she wanted to spend more time with her family.
Recently, she let it be know that it wasn't the case.
By that time, Whitman had already announced her resignation, saying she wanted to spend more time with her family. But the real reason, she said, was the new rule.
"I just couldn't sign it," she said. "The president has a right to have an administrator who could defend it, and I just couldn't."
There is no room for discussion or dissent with the faux chief-of-staff role that Cheney put himself in place as.
Whitman was probably the first high-visibility resignation from the Bush administration. At the time there was thought that the excuse given was lame. As we've seen in the last couple of months, more and more members of the administration are resigning.
It's almost as if the rats are leaving the unsinkable Titanic administration. How many more will jump ship in the coming months? Especially, since it is starting to look like that there may be legal ramifications and prosecutions are not so out of the question.
just ask libby...