May 22, 2002

Fighting the battle of definitions…

Tonight, in a taped interview with Larry King on CNN at 9:00 p.m. EDT, Vice President Cheney will make this remark:

“When members of Congress suggest that the president of the United States had fore knowledge of the attack on September 11th, I think that’s outrageous, that is beyond pale…Somebody needs to say, that ain’t criticism, that’s a gross outrageous political attack, and it’s totally uncalled for.”

I do not recall any reputable member of Congress making any such suggestion. I do recall Representative Cynthia McKinney saying something of the sort. But surely the vice president is not worried about her.

No. This is simply a crass attempt by the vice president–playing on his considerable stature as a reasonable statesman–to taint any criticism of the administration with labels such as “despicable” and “outrageous.” Cheney’s statement attempts to create a fact where none exists. By asserting that such criticism exists, he creates legitimacy for his own response to imagined events. In politics, those who win the battle of definitions win the battle. And Cheney is quite clearly attempting to define Congressional criticism as “despicable” and “outrageous” in order to frustrate attempts to investigate the pre-9/11 situation and to promote a stunted idea of patriotism before the mid-term elections.

Will Larry King challenge Cheney’s statement? Stay tuned and we’ll see…

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