From The "If It Were Dick Cheney Doing This" Files

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on July 10, 2009

Joe Biden is having private meetings, closed to the press!

And no one should care, of course. Vice Presidents and Presidents oftentimes have meetings that are closed to the press. Private meetings, where the President and Vice President are able to receive the unvarnished, confidential counsel of others, are part and parcel of the job. They are also part and parcel of the President’s and Vice President’s ability to do their jobs, and do them right.

But per the title of this post, I can only imagine what the reaction would have been if Dick Cheney were still the Vice President. The speculation would have run wild; “He’s planning with his oil executive buddies on how to screw over the United States!” “He’s planning another war!” “He’s planning a coup!” You get the drill.

If the media actually wants to do the country a favor, it could write about all of the things that were done in the Bush Administration that attracted opprobrium and were the subjects of conspiracy theories galore . . . and then point out how many of those same things are going on during the Obama Administration. The fact that the Vice President is having private meetings with people is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to possible commonalities between the Bush and Obama Administrations. There is also the Obama Administration’s spectacular power grab–you know, the one that discombobulates the thinking of Obamaphiles. There is the fact that the Obama Administration promised to have bills shown in full, online, for the public to peruse, for a period of five days before signing–a promise that has circled the drain long ago. There is the fact that the Obama Administration is more fond of signing statements at this point in its first term than the Bush Administration was at a similar point. And on, and on, and on.

It would be quite the civic service if more Americans actually learned that there are a whole host of activities common to administrations of both parties, that the Bush Administration–and for that matter, other Republican administrations–regularly got trashed for in hypocritical fashion. Maybe if more people knew about these common activities, they would be more willing to call shenanigans on those who attack administrations of one party for engaging in a particular activity, while remaining silent as administrations of another party engage in the very same activity–with perhaps even greater frequency.

UPDATE: Somewhat related, a recent signing statement that would have allowed the Obama Administration to ignore restrictions on international aid payments drew the ire of the House of Representatives in a serious way. I never had a problem with signing statements, but given the degree to which signing statements were used to portray the Bush Administration as a dictatorial entity, more attention needs to be paid to the fact that the Obama Administration is using signing statements more than the Bush Administration did at a similar point in its first term.

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