Two years ago, on May 30, 2005, Vice President Dick Cheney said of the violence in Iraq: “I think they’re in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.”
The comment came in response to a question from CNN’s Larry King.
That’s the line everyone remembers from the interview.
What people don’t remember is Cheney’s response to King’s inquiry about when US troops would come home from Iraq.
KING: You expect it in your administration?
CHENEY: I do.
Note that Cheney did not correct the reference to “your administration.” As he has ever since selecting himself for a place on George W. Bush’s ticket in 2000, Cheney was more than willing to assume the mantle of power.
Unfortunately, it does not wear well on the man whose record for getting wrong actually surpasses that of his supposed boss.
There is no question that Cheney, who honed his skills as a military strategist by collecting a remarkable five draft deferments during the Vietnam War, was wrong about the insurgency entering its last throes.
And if we are to believe President Bush, who says the occupation will continue through the end of his second term, Cheney was also wrong when he said that the troops would exit in his administration.
Cheney can afford to be wrong. It costs him nothing. Congress is not about to hold the Vice President, or anyone else in the administration, to account for misstating, misreading and miscalculating everything about the Iraq imbroglio. Indeed, Congress is actually giving the administration more money than it requested to maintain the occupation.
As has been the case throughout his career, Cheney’s errors only cost others. Since the vice president said the insurgency was in its last throes, tens of thousands of additional Iraqis have died. Major nation’s have excited Bush’s so-called “coalition of the willing.” And the number of American deaths in the quagmire of Bush and Cheney’s creation has more than doubled.
When Cheney talked with Larry King, fewer than 1,700 American soldiers had died in Iraq. Now, the figure stands at 3,468 — pending the latest round of Department of Defense confirmations.
The Vice President fancies himself something of a amateur historian. Perhaps, then, he will be intrigued by some of the historic mileposts that have been passed since he spoke two years ago. Since Cheney was telling Americans that the war had taken a turn for the better and that the troops would return on his watch, total American losses in Iraq have surpassed the US death tolls in the Spanish-American War (2,446) and the War of 1812 (2,260). And they are fast approaching the death total for the Revolutionary War (4,435).
So it goes with Dick Cheney. No apologies. No accountability. Just a whole lot of wrong. And a whole lot of funerals.
John Nichols’ biography of the vice president,