Jim Hoagland of the Washington Post is normally a pretty good columnist by MSM standards. So I was shocked by his column of today in which he starts out by wondering whether Dick Cheney “has lost his mind” and concludes, as I read the piece, that the vice president is emotionally unstable.
What evidence does Hoagland offer along the way? He says that a “European statesman who has known Cheney for years” asked Hoagland “what has happened to Dick Cheney?” All right, but what’s Hoagland’s evidence that Cheney has lost his mind. He cites alleged diplomatic cables “analyzing [Cheney’s] equilibrium.” These cables, says Hoagland, are based on Cheney’s “irascibility in television interviews.” I haven’t seen the interviews in question, but I know that Cheney has been prone to irascibility towards his critics throughout his time as vice president — recall how he delivered an expletive at Senator Leahy. I’d be more concerned about Cheney if he were suffering media fools — among whom perhaps Hoagland ought to be numbered — gladly.
Hoagland also notes that Cheney has lost influence with the president to Condoleezza (“Let’s Make A Deal”) Rice. But public figures gain and lose influence all the time; it’s not the same thing as losing one’s mind. In the interviews I’ve seen, Cheney seems to understand how power ebbs and flows in Washington, as well he might having been in the game for so long. Moreover, Hoagland himself argues that Cheney was never as influential as his detractors made him out to be.
This is not to deny that Cheney is displeased with the way many things have been going. In particular, he must be dismayed by what happened to his friend Scooter Libby. But unless Hoagland has information he withheld from his column, he has no basis for speculating that Cheney is emotionally unstable, and he should not have written the column.
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