While I'm fixing supper I turn on the little TV in the kitchen to watch the commentariat dissect the day's news. It's their job to view everything through a political lens, which seems sometimes to leave them fairly blinkered about the motivations of the actors on the stage.
I was amused at Rove's comments on the Powell/Cheney flap. "Neither one of them are candidates," he said, dismissing the entire matter. He's only interested in winning elections. Anything else is the "false debate that Washington loves."
The talking heads on MSNBC continue to be baffled. They're trying to figure out the strategy. If Cheney & Limbaugh continue to be polarizing figures, then how is that going to help the Republican party make a comeback in the next election cycle? They shake their heads in puzzlement and disbelief.
Except that there's nothing to indicate that either Cheney or Limbaugh are particularly interested in helping the Republican party win elections. Limbaugh, for all his bluff and bluster, is consistent in one thing -- he's an entertainer whose interest is self-interest and driving his ratings up. If the Republican party falls apart and the ensuing controversies raise his profile and get more people to tune into his show, that's a good thing. Zev Chafets's profile of Limbaugh in the Times Magazine last July makes it pretty clear what drives him. You will consistently misunderstand Rush if you think that he's trying to build, preserve or further the interests of the Republican party.
Cheney is similar in that way. But much scarier. If you take him at face value -- and I see no reason not to -- he believes deeply that the actions that he took, the agenda that he drove until even W. couldn't stomach it anymore, kept the country safe. And that what the Obama administration is doing now is terribly wrong and is opening the door for another attack. His mission now is to do as much as he can to hammer home that message in hopes that public and congressional opinion can be turned enough to put roadblocks in Obama's way. Whether or not that serves the interests of the Republican party is irrelevant.
Once you quit trying to view their actions through a political lens, they're both remarkably consistent. I was never outraged at Limbaugh's comments about wanting Obama to fail. How could he not want that? Obama's vision for the United States is fundamentally antithetical to the view of the U.S. that Rush holds. If Obama were to succeed, he would be moving the country in a direction that would make it much more difficult for Rush to sustain his riches and his notoreity.
I imagine that during the days between the election and the inaugural, Cheney must have wondered if there wasn't a way to stop the succession from happening. He must have considered the implications of declaring a state of emergency, of some sort of martial law. His actions over the past eight years have made it very clear that he believes that the President has unlimited authority to do whatever is necessary in advancing the war on terror. It must have been deeply disappointing to him to realize, finally, that he'd made a president who just wasn't as tough as he was.