For Hollywood, ‘Vice’ Is Remarkably Astute About Politics

Adam McKay’s movie may be flawed, but it’s still must-see for his depiction of how Cheney amassed power by exploiting Watergate, an inexperienced president and 9/11, writes James DiEugenio.

By James DiEugenio 
Special to Consortium News

 In 2015, director Adam McKay did something unusual in Hollywood.  He made a good film out of a good book.  In fact, one could argue that McKay’s movie “The Big Short” is even better than Michael Lewis’ book.  It is funnier, has a faster pace and is much more innovative stylistically.

McKay has now done something even more unusual for Hollywood.  He has made a good film about an unattractive and unlikeable character, former Vice-President Dick Cheney. Appropriately, the film is called “Vice.” I am going to say some critical things about “Vice.”  But let me start by recommending that everyone who reads this website see this film. It’s not often that Hollywood produces a film this honest, ambitious and intelligent about the contemporary American political scene.

Vice: Portrait of the abuse of power. (@vicemovie on Twitter)

Early in his life, Cheney flunked out of Yale and was tagged with two DUI’s.  His wife Lynne—who later became a prolific author—helped straighten him out  and put him on a path toward a political career.  From that point on, McKay, who also wrote the script, frames Cheney with the following epigraph, which is written across the screen at one point: 

“Beware the quiet man.  For while others speak, he watched. And while others act, he plans.  And when they finally rest, he strikes.”

The warning applies to three key sections covered by the film.

Watergate Power Vacuum

During the Watergate scandal, Cheney believed that any Republican not touched by the scandal should be valued like gold. So he and Donald Rumsfeld schemed to fill a power vacuum in the Gerald Ford White House. In order to compensate for the laws sapping executive power after Watergate, he met with a young up-and-coming lawyer named Antonin Scalia. The future U.S. Supreme Court justice supplied Cheney with the unified executive theory, a doctrine Scalia drew from article two of the U.S. Constitution that vests “executive power” in the president. Cheney tried to utilize this doctrine as chief of staff under Ford.

George W’s Search for VP

The dangerous quiet man reappears during the presidential campaign of George W. Bush. As the film depicts, due to an agreement he’d made with his wife, Cheney was only supposed to lead Bush’s search for a vice president. But sensing that W was tentative and unsure of himself on the national stage of foreign policy, Cheney made an agreement with George W. that would make him the most powerful vice-president in history.  Through this pact, Cheney achieved something that Lyndon Johnson had tried for but failed to attain with John Kennedy: a co-presidency. He set up offices for himself at both the House of Representatives and the Senate.  He also had virtual offices at the CIA and the State Department

Vice President Dick Cheney, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, August 2006. (White House photo/David Bohrer)

Vice President Dick Cheney, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, August 2006. (White House photo/David Bohrer)

Post 9/11

These arrangements put him in a propitious position during the 9/11 attacks. Cheney advised President Bush to stay in the air for safety purposes while he–without clearance from Bush–issued a shoot-down order to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld.  And that was just the beginning of the Cheney domination of the War on Terror. 

As McKay shows in the film, it was Cheney who almost unilaterally chose the suspects that he wanted the CIA to pick up and deport for rendition purposes to foreign black sites, or secret prisons. It was Cheney, aided by neoconservative lawyer David Addington and State Department analyst Doug Feith, who constructed the “stove piping” of intelligence in order to avoid any rigorous review of sources and methods for intelligence reports.

Like the Plan B neocons of the 1970s, who overrode the CIA’s estimates of the Soviet military threat, Cheney descended into the spy agency’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, and rode herd on its officers and analysts. The vice-president demanded access to all the information, no matter how dubious the source or how much duress had been applied in attaining it. It was this imperiousness that allowed disinformation by the likes of German-born informer Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, also known by his CIA moniker of Curveball, to lay the false foundations for the invasion of Iraq.


Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld leave Pentagon on way to Rumsfeld’s farewell ceremony, Dec. 15, 2006. (DOD, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen)

And Cheney made sure that as much duress as possible was applied to the suspects he had chosen.  Through Addington, Cheney recruited John Yoo, a Yale-educated lawyer at work in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. Yoo agreed with Scalia’s unitary executive theory. He wrote legal memoranda that stated that, in the War on Terror, America could discard the Geneva Convention’s guidelines on the treatment of prisoners. Yoo’s memos infamously stated that the CIA should only ban physical pain equivalent to organ failure or death. It was Yoo’s almost complete denial of international law that set America on the path to Abu Ghraib, the Iraq prison where the CIA and U.S. Army infamously oversaw the extreme abuse and torture of prisoners.

Still Incomplete

It is remarkable that McKay managed to get all this information about Cheney into a film that runs only slightly over two hours.

But the trail of perfidy is incomplete.  For example, as chronicled by the late Bob Parry, it was Cheney who led the counter attack to the Iran/Contra affair from Congress.  Cheney was at a meeting at the home of Evan Thomas where it was suggested that National Security Advisor John Poindexter commit perjury to protect President Reagan. 

Adam McKay in 2015. (Wikimedia)

Adam McKay in 2015. (Wikimedia)

But all of the above tells you little about the experience of watching the film. As with “The Big Short,” the exceptional thing about “Vice” is McKay’s cinematic approach. Once again, he uses a battery of visual devices that are unprecedented in contemporary film. About halfway through the film, for instance, before Cheney becomes vice president, the film appears to reach an abrupt ending. The credits roll, with cornily cheerful music on the soundtrack. Meaning we all would have been better off if Cheney had not become co-president.

In “Vice,” however, such clever innovations don’t necessarily help the overall storyline. “The Big Short” was about an event, namely the economic meltdown of 2007-08. “Vice” is about a man’s life and career.

Had McKay lessened, rather than increased, his visual inventiveness he might have done a better job explaining how Cheney ended up as a character worthy of Shakespeare’s treacherous Iago. (A spoofy bedroom scene written and performed in Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter—which happens—does not solve the riddle of character explication.) A bit more straightforward story telling would have also given the actors—Christian Bale as Cheney and Amy Adams as his wife– more to work with.  They are quite adequate here, but because of McKay’s attention to other matters, neither can be really good.

None of this makes me any less enthusiastic about the film or about McKay. How can someone not admire a millionaire film director who identifies himself as a social democrat? And makes films like this?  More power to him.

James DiEugenio is a researcher and writer on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and other mysteries of that era. His most recent book is  “The JFK Assassination : The Evidence Today.” 

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51 comments for “For Hollywood, ‘Vice’ Is Remarkably Astute About Politics

  1. Jan Stickle
    January 16, 2019 at 14:05

    Does the film accurately depict Vice in the PEOC early in the morning of Sept 11, 2001 running multiple “war games” involving hijacked airliners being flown into buildings? If so, I’m on my way to the theater because I’ve always wanted to know why he was there and what he was actually doing.

  2. Rob
    January 13, 2019 at 15:01

    I have seen the film and can attest that it is very good and succeeds at giving the audience a Dick Cheney that they can (rightfully) hate. There is a scene toward the end showing the surgery in which Cheney receives a heart transplant. As I watched, the thought that ran through my mind was what a waste of a good heart that was to prolong the life of a full-fledged psychopath.

    • Truthispower
      January 14, 2019 at 17:30

      I think I’ll put a stipulation on my donor card that no Republican can receive any part of me. Or most Democrats either. Only DSA members.

  3. Truthispower
    January 13, 2019 at 14:41

    I propose that some enterprising group of radicals kidnap Cheney and torture him until he gives us the truth about 9/11.

    • January 13, 2019 at 19:22

      ….

      It is looking like when an accurate historical account has been developed and processed, it is likely that Cheney will be mentioned in the same breath as the greatest monsters of recent history, a peer with Hitler and Stalin. Another film will need to be released to produce an accurate portrayal. Much darker.

      …..

  4. January 12, 2019 at 08:58

    Yea, I’ll save my money. I refuse to spend my money on any bullshit of perception management hollywood puts out on terrorist terrorism, and middle east wars! I know enough about chenney than I wish to know!

    • Litchfield
      January 13, 2019 at 13:49

      Well, it would be a shame to save your money in such a silly way.
      I saw VICE last night.
      IMO it is a brilliant film. The acting is fantastic from all the parties, bujt especially Bale, Amy Adams, and Sam Something as George Bush Jr.

      I agree that rolling the credits in the middle of the film was a misstep.
      also, providing a crucial coda after the final credits meant that many missed seeing that final scene, which was brilliant.
      Otherwise, simply brilliant.

    • Eddie
      January 13, 2019 at 19:39

      I have to agree with you, frank scott, CitizenOne’s litany, and several others below, in-that I have NO plans to see a movie about that asshole Cheney, one of the major driving forces behind the Iraq War crime. I’ve read enough about his horrible war mongering behavior, as well as the right-wingers who I have witnessed pushed the country in that direction since the late 70’s. Why should I just get angrier (especially when some movie-magic may exaggerate things, unbeknownst to the viewer) reviewing ALL the aggravating crap in this sickening incident (100’s of thousands of people DIED… how much more evidence of evil do I need??)

  5. SocraticGadfly
    January 11, 2019 at 20:01

    Cheney had enablers, too.

    Like the House GOP that let him set up an office there.

    Of course, as we see currently, the Congressional GOP has for decades had a blank-check fetish for untrammeled executive power.

  6. January 11, 2019 at 18:42

    I have not seen the movie and I know something about what is publicly known about Cheney. What I thought was very interesting was a Ralph Nader interview of Seymour Hersh in which he spoke a little about Cheney and why he did not write his book about Cheney yet.
    https://ralphnaderradiohour.com/seymour-hersh/

  7. Litchfield
    January 11, 2019 at 18:36

    So, is the “unitary executive” what brought us all of those special orders (I can’t recall the exact term for these ) written by Bush (but maybe orchestrated by Cheney?)?

    And is Trump now riding along on this “unitary executive” wave as more and more power is concentrated in the executive branch of government and Trump is the primary beneficiary?

  8. January 11, 2019 at 17:27

    will definitely give the film a look if/when it comes to free – relatively – tv and appreciate the review but too much attention on one or another evil-doer working to maintain the system serves to help in that process by concentrating on a president-ceo-media-celeb and highlighting a tree/investor without noticing the forest/capitalism…for just one example,all the crap about bush being a war criminal for getting us to attack after 911 but neglecting to notice that of the 535 members of our magnificent constitutional religious democratic body of congress ( sanctus sanctus etc) only one, barbara lee, murmured some discontent with the action while 534 , among them the black caucus, the labor caucus, the women’s caucus, the latino caucus, the jewish caucus, etc, remained silent, openly supported or hid under their desks or at the gender specific toilet of their choice..and lest we think she should be canonized in a reverse individual highlight to counter demonization of the evil ones, she has more recently succumbed to the trumpophobia afflicting creatures once considered liberal or progressive.. we are in debt for trillions spent on war, billions spent on pets, with millions in poverty and hundreds of thousands on the street..that’s not the outcome of an evil leader but of a system that threatens the future of humanity, whether or not cheney or trump or obama or reagan used the ladies room or slept with their pets, like millions of us do.

    • Llitchfield
      January 13, 2019 at 13:51

      ” but too much attention on one or another evil-doer working to maintain the system serves to help in that process by concentrating on a president-ceo-media-celeb and highlighting a tree/investor without noticing the forest/capitalism…for just one example,a”

      Mistake.
      You do not know what is in the film.
      See it now.

    • Kevin Bradley
      January 14, 2019 at 12:19

      You’re equating money spent on war with money spent on pets? How about the billions/trillions spent on over-consumption in a hyper-materialistic society which is also destroying the planet?

  9. SPENCER
    January 11, 2019 at 15:13

    Cheney is a Gangster—

    • January 11, 2019 at 16:42

      Any ordinary miscreant can be a gangster. Many gangsters are ordinary people who simply don’t follow the law. Cheney is a complete psychopath, a monster, without a heart, without a soul, without a moral compass.

  10. January 11, 2019 at 14:38

    ….

    I have not seen this film yet but I am almost 100% sure it has an unforgivable omission to it, something that cannot be missing from an accurate accounting of Cheney’s life. It has to do with Cheney’s role in the events of 9/11/2001, which I think history will show to be radically different from what is generally understood in mainstream America. At that point, a new film will be necessary, far less flattering.

    ….

    • SocraticGadfly
      January 11, 2019 at 20:02

      You’re a 9/11 truther, Brian? At least be straightforward about it. (sigh)

      • January 12, 2019 at 17:48

        I am in the process of trying to develop a fact-based, evidence-based understanding of 9/11/2001. I have no idea if that qualifies me for one of your pejorative labels or another, and frankly I couldn’t care less. Why would I? There is a good amount of circumstantial evidence that Cheney had a heavy hand in MANAGING the events of 9/11/2001, although I would not say it is proven. The evidence is pointing HARD at Cheney. I am not talking about managing the RESPONSE, but rather, the events of the day as a whole — the ENTIRETY of the events of that day on and around the island of Manhattan and the Pentagon.

      • Uncle Bob
        January 12, 2019 at 21:55

        Why is it nobody ever asks, “Are You A 9/11 Believer”? Because it’s Childish

    • CitizenOne
      January 11, 2019 at 21:33

      Agreed. The same kind of major omission was also present in the film about the freeing of some of the Iranian Hostages in the film Argo. Huge gaps but since the film focused on only a tiny timeline of a few individuals it did not need to be in the main plot. But surely it missed a huge opportunity to set the record straight on those years.

  11. cal
    January 11, 2019 at 08:28

    Vice is far too personality driven and unequivocal in its narrative focus on Cheney. It makes the Carter years to be a rejection, when Brezezinski set the stage for Middle Eastern 4-d chess. It makes George Sr. to be a decent, doddering, fella. And the Trump voter, or being a brain-dead millenial, is the cause of woes, even though Obama’s admin only put the post-9/11 boost in the National Security State more securely on course. Trying to do a biopic on a neocon like Cheney is like staring at the sun, too bright and searing your eyes to give you the ability to see the majority of the operators, spooks, and apparachniks who wander in and out of the revolving door. To quote a state-department guy in relation to fascists in Croatia, neocons are the “junkyard dogs” for the Atlanticist liberal imperialists. They’re the hatchet men who build the machine. In some ways, folks like Richard Perl and Paul Wolfowitz are not merely the architects of evil, but the ideological dupes who push programs along and take the flak.

    • January 11, 2019 at 12:12

      cal – excellent comments. I thought the film would have been so much stronger if it had dealt with the existence of The Project for a New American Century that outlined not only the need for “a new Pearl Harbor,” but also the need for U.S. post-9/11 foreign policy to start magically mirroring Israeli policy for destabilizing the entire Middle East. Without connecting the dots between the U.S. neocons and the many U.S.-Israeli dual-citizens in Bush the Dumber’s administration, and the post-9/11 connecting of U.S./Israeli foreign policy, the focus on “personality” ends up mystifying the historical reality, as if Cheney was more of a lone wolf rather than an important member of a pack of jackals.

      • CitizenOne
        January 11, 2019 at 22:58

        Exactly Gary,

        But do not expect entertainment approved for the masses to reveal any open secrets. They can’t bury history but they can sure fool most of the people all of the time. I have not seen the film because I know I will leave the theater more displeased with its omissions than pleased some critical analysis has gone at least into a film. I still want to see it but with mixed emotions as I know a film approved by the handlers will only allow a sliver of the scale of Cheney’s reach and breadth from his days in the Pentagon as the chief architect of privatization of the defense budget to his arrival at Halliburton where he enlightened the leadership of the opportunities they had due to his handcrafted new rules for contractors to cash in to his PNAC days where he wrote the military strategy for the 21st Century as a US hegemonic global military empire outlining pretty much what happened in history after that.
        It is controversial that his lament that the American people would not go along with his plans for preemptive war in the middle east barring some catalyst such as a “new Pearl Harbor” led to his decisions to ignore Richard Clark and why the Bush administration ignored warning signs of 9/11, denied FBI access to investigate the 9/11 conspiracy which resulted in a repeated denial to the FBI in Minneapolis to grant access via a FISA warrant to search the files of personal computer of the twentieth hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui. That computer was later investigated and revealed the plot after 9/11.

        FBI Headquarters had prevented the Minneapolis FBI from seeking a criminal search warrant. In addition, FBI Headquarters inappropriately failed to seek a FISA warrant even though probable cause for the warrant was “clear.” FBI Headquarters had intentionally raised “roadblocks” and “undermined” the Minneapolis FBI’s “desperate” efforts to obtain a FISA warrant.The Phoenix EC had not been provided to the Minneapolis FBI, and that the Minneapolis FBI’s assessment of Moussaoui as a potential threat had not been shared with other intelligence and law enforcement authorities.

        PBS Frontline ran a story about an FBI agent John O’Neill who uncovered the 9/11 plot only to be harassed and forced to leave the agency and accept a new position in a new office as head of security at the World Trade Center. He died in 9/11. Dead men do not tell tales.

        These pre 9/11 maneuvers to ignore and bury the intelligence concerning Al Qaeda were followed after 9/11 with a shifting of the blame by the administration to one of Cheney’s targets for preemptive war outlined in the PNAC Military Strategy for the 21st Century, Iraq. Richard Clarke wrote about how Bush came to his office one day and asked him to look into whether Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11 in which Clarke was incredulous that such a complete nonsensical theory would come from the President. Bush told Clarke to just look into it anyway.

        The connections to Cheney and Rumsfeld and the Bushes and a whole array of neocons which came in on the tailcoats of the Bush administration with the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm invested in defense stock consisting of Defense Department insiders, administration officials and member of Congress which stood to make a fortune as the post USSR era and fall of the Berlin Wall stood to gain as they bought up depressed defense contractors stocks at fire sale prices or in some cases outright bought defense assets like Baker Halliburton Hughes. The Bin Laden family of Saudi Arabia were also heavy investors in Carlyle. All these folks stood to make fortunes and depended on the sage wisdom and careful planning of Cheney to pull off the next war. It was something he had planned for a long time. Cheney knew that the only way any war was ever supported by a population of a nation (any nation any war look it up in the history books) was to convince them that the nation was under attack and that would require the equivalent of a “New Pearl Harbor” which he had lamented in his PNAC days.

        One can only speculate about the transfixed gaze on Bush’s face as he read to kindergarten children in Florida upon hearing the news of 9/11. Officials claim Bush didn’t want to upset the children so he sat there for an eternity just sitting there speechless. It is also possible he was finally wrapping his head around what happened in the light of everything that had happened leading up to this event. So much about Cheney will never be revealed in a movie and will forever remain in the realm of pure speculation subject to opinion not fact and as such never assignable to anyone. The history of America will remain unstained by Iran Contra and how it might have extended all the way back to the Iranian Hostage Crisis. The government and the media will never allow the full investigation to happen.

        At least in other countries like Britain the Chilcot Report excoriated Tony Blair for going along with the dubious claims of the US administration and leading that country into an unnecessary war based on a pack of lies. Unfortunately, there will never be a full reckoning of the many secret plans in this country to position ourselves as the globally dominant military power on Earth.

        I an sure those who believe in the Machiavellian reasoning that the ends justify the means wrapped in the patriotic fervor of America First will see all these actions as noble causes which must be hidden from the public to preserve the notion that we as a nation and our national leaders adhere to the highest virtues and respect for the flag. However this leads to the conclusion that abuses can happen under a cloak of patriotic fervor which strain our system of laws and often break them while simultaneously enriching those in power.

        It is a chicken and egg dilemma which will never be solved as the long repetitive road of history winds on.

        • Michael56
          January 12, 2019 at 02:53

          Brilliantly put.

        • Uncle Bob
          January 12, 2019 at 22:02

          I concur, just one lil quibble..
          “denied FBI access to investigate the 9/11 conspiracy which resulted in a repeated denial to the FBI in Minneapolis to grant access via a FISA warrant to search the files of personal computer of the twentieth hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui. That computer was later investigated and revealed the plot after 9/11.

          FBI Headquarters had prevented the Minneapolis FBI from seeking a criminal search warrant. In addition, FBI Headquarters inappropriately failed to seek a FISA warrant even though probable cause for the warrant was “clear.” FBI Headquarters had intentionally raised “roadblocks” and “undermined” the Minneapolis FBI’s “desperate” efforts to obtain a FISA warrant.The Phoenix EC had not been provided to the Minneapolis FBI, and that the Minneapolis FBI’s assessment of Moussaoui as a potential threat had not been shared with other intelligence and law enforcement authorities.”…

          In “Chain of Command”, Sy Hersh, writes that the head of the Minn. FBI office didn’t ask for a FISA warrant because she was sure it’d be rejected

      • Litchfield
        January 13, 2019 at 14:01

        Perhaps, but let’s look at the film before us, not the theoretical film that you might prefer. Or, go and make that film.
        This film is extraordinary, despite weaknesses regarding 9/11. Actually, the film does NOT reinforce the official 9/11 story.
        It saiys nothing about the background/cause of 9/11. That is a strength. It focuses on Cheney and that already tells us a whole lot about what might be the real story.

        You would avoid seeing one of Shakespeare’s history plays because ti adoesn’t tell “the whole story” as you think it should? Silly man! Every artist decides where his/focus will be . This film is not a documentary, but it intersects with “reality” at many points and does use some established facts and, say, quotes made on TV, in a very effective, almost documentarian way. The film is punctuated and to an extent driven by expository statements that expose the further consequences of the actions shown. All of this obvoussly cannot be shown in a 2-hour feature film. So, I think McKay did a damned good job of splitting the difference between a values and info of a documentary and the values and techniques and freedoms inherent in a feature film.

    • January 11, 2019 at 17:08

      thank you cal!

  12. F. G. Sanford
    January 11, 2019 at 06:00

    Mr. DiEugenio, thank you for this informative review. As usual, your impeccable knowledge of the finer points and elusive but critical minutia serves us well. The onslaught of distractions propagated by mainstream sources to popularize misconceptions and legitimize falsehoods can only be exposed and refuted by persons such as yourself. Your encyclopedic knowledge of critically important but under-reported detail may be the only antidote to tyranny we have left. Far from tedious, I find your dissections of complex background information utterly captivating and absolutely essential to any real understanding. It is for this reason that I would like to suggest a topic for a future article.

    In view of approaching pivotal Congressional investigations and Grand Jury hearings, I believe the public would benefit immensely by understanding how such proceedings may be subverted. In recent interviews with Dave Emory, you exposed shocking details of such activities brought to bear in order to undermine: the Warren Commission, the Garrison investigation, Ramsey Clark’s review of medical evidence, and the Assassination Records Review Board. These included bribed and intimidated witnesses, disruptive infiltrators, electronic surveillance, collusion with intelligence agencies, theft and destruction of documents, crooked private investigators, false stories planted in newspapers, attorneys collaborating with judges and perpetrators, Federal agencies willfully ignoring legal duties and committing rampant perjury, and myriad other forms of egregious corruption. The most flabbergasting story was the recent attempt by HuffPost to portray the Garrison investigation as a campaign against a member of the LGBT community in order to provoke the ire of misinformed ‘Social Justice’ advocates. That has to be a new low in the ongoing war against the truth.

    So, please Mr. DiEugenio, write us an article and inform the public, as perhaps only you can. Thanks again for your tireless efforts.

  13. dean 1000
    January 10, 2019 at 22:04

    Thanks for the review. I’m not a movie fan. Will go to see Vice. Want to see Darth Cheney in action. One of the screwballs willingly duped by curveball.

  14. dean 1000
    January 10, 2019 at 21:59

    I’m not a movie fan. Haven’t seen one since Star Wars. Will go see Vice. Want to see Darth Cheney in action. One of the screwballs who was willingly duped by curveball.

  15. KiwiAntz
    January 10, 2019 at 20:52

    Just as Cheney was the de facto, behind the scenes, actual POTUS in the Bush Administration with GW Bush JNR just a frontman & a stupid one at that, so today’s version has Bolton & Pompeo fulfilling Cheney’s role as the twin, de facto POTUS’s actually controlling things in the Trump administration with another vain, stupid idiot called Donald Trump as the frontman! In the context of the US Political System, the more things change, the more they stay the same? And the only surefire qualification you need to be President is that you must be a STUPID idiot? Preferably a RICH STUPID IDIOT like Trump?

    • Realist
      January 11, 2019 at 01:12

      You may be right. Your hypothesis will be confirmed if both remain in their jobs while Trump is extricated from office through impeachment or resignation. It will be falsified if he impulsively sacks either of them, as has happened to most of his other cabinet-level appointments.

      There is no happy medium, even if they all get run out of Washington, the country will still be governed by Pence. What is he? Some chimera, composed of part farcical Bush and part grotesque Cheney?

      • Will
        January 11, 2019 at 09:16

        Pence, whatever he may be, isn’t very bright or sophisticated so one assumes the chaos will lessen somewhat but the path will continue as the actions (w,ell most of them) that were carried out via the republican wet dream that was Trump will be consolidated into something even worse for the welfare of (to quote Claire Boothe Luce) the “little people”.

      • John
        January 11, 2019 at 09:18

        Pence is scarier than that. He is straight out of dystopian fiction.

        His fundamental theocratic nature is more akin to the Saudis than anything the US has seen since the Salem Witch Trials.

        • Litlchfield
          January 11, 2019 at 18:40

          Absolutely. Pence and Pompeo’s fundamentalism and evangelical zeal put them in the same tent with Saudis with their Wahhabism. P&P’s ideas for US foreign policy make a mockery of the separation of church and state and prohibition of any established religion. They are no better than ISIS maniacs who want to create a caliph governed according to Sharia law.

        • Uncle Bob
          January 12, 2019 at 22:09

          Just listened yesterday..”Letters & Politics” KPFA

          The Truth about Mike Pence

          https://kpfa.org/episode/letters-and-politics-january-10-2019/

    • Steve
      January 11, 2019 at 08:26

      I strongly disagree.

      If Trump has shown one defining attribute as President, it’s his willingness to completely ignore his advisors. Sure, they may ride herd on him for a short while, but eventually he tires of them contradicting him and sends them packing or they get tired of his ignoring them, and leave of their own volition. It happened with Steve Bannon, it happened with Reince Priebus, it happened with H.R. McMaster, it happened with John Kelly, it happened with Jim Mattis, and it will eventually happen with Bolton and Pompeo. Honestly, I don’t think Bolton will last much longer if he keeps on contradicting Trump on the Syria withdrawal. He’s going to drag his feet on that one too many times and Trump is going to utter his catchphrase (you’re fired).

      • Skip Scott
        January 11, 2019 at 11:58

        Steve-

        Just one question. Why’d he pick these a-holes in the first place? None of them agree with the policy positions he ran on.

        • January 11, 2019 at 17:17

          Skip – you asked a valid question. No one but Trump himself knows the answer. My guess is that Trump (who IMO is much smarter than he looks and sometimes sounds, and very much smarter than his haters think) follows the advice: Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer. Remember that he is fighting the democratic party, some members of his own party, as well as some members of the Deep State on frantic efforts to impeach him. He is also aware of why JFK was assassinated (and no, it was not by that stooge with the Russian wife who was killed in turn to quiet him). I believe he is surrounding himself with the very people his enemies would approve of, like a wall of protection. (I think he may even have chosen Pence as his VP as a form of life insurance, after all Pence would be seen as scarier to more people than Trump.) Much of the “unrest” or “instability” in the White House is thus more of a distraction and a drama that assures that no one can be sure of anything at any given moment, thus giving him time and space to try to achieve at least some of his goals. He has actually been quite successful, in preventing all out war against Russia, of bringing the two Koreas closer, now of definitively ending the war against Assad with Syria winning, of alienating enough other nations through impositions of sanctions and tariffs to cause realignments against the New World Order and globalism.

        • cal
          January 11, 2019 at 18:22

          I assume because it’s part of how Trump wheeled and dealed into the RNC in the first place: make a deal with neo-cons and crunchy Atlanticists, and run it for what it’s worth. John Bolton is a pretty evil dude, but he’s one of the least powerful and most cartoonish of the neocon thunderers. It kind of fits Trumps’ MO to use media theatrics to be smokescreen and leveraging device for the deals he concocts. Remember how he dangled Pompeo around and fire-breathed his own insane tweets about “Little Rocket Man”, only to broker the most far-reaching thaw in US-N.Korea relations since the war. It’s a bizarre game that has been played, and it seems most can’t grasp how Trump is neither an idiot nor a puppet (though not a moral or just man by any stretch).

        • O Society
          January 11, 2019 at 19:06

          I’m not at all certain Trump knows who these people are. There’s an interview with Steve Bannon where he says Reince Priebus is going to be Chief of Staff and Trump asks who the hell he is. Same with John Bolton. Bannon pushed Bolton on Trump. I doubt anyone other than the obvious Trump cronies like Stephanie McMahon and Jared Kushner are Trump’s idea.

          Remember, Trump is a ratings whore who cares about the opinions of Sean Hannity and Rupert Murdoch. Anyone who takes seriously the idea Trump is doing anything beyond reality TV manufactured drama doesn’t see clearly. Trump has no ideology except “Me.”

        • O Society
          January 11, 2019 at 19:22

          Here you go. Bannon originally wanted Bolton for Secretary of Defense. Trump said “no” because he didn’t like Bolton’s mustache. He wanted Mr. Clean McMaster because he looks better on TV.

          https://www.businessinsider.com/john-bolton-mustache-trump-2018-3

          Donald Trump wants cabinet members who make him look good on the reality TV show he’s shooting live from the White House. Any of y’all who still buy this Trump is a superhero subverting the Deep State narrative are wacky on the junk. WWF Wrassling isn’t real.

        • O Society
          January 11, 2019 at 19:47

          It was john Boehner, not Preibus.

          Fox News head Roger Ailes told Trump to pick Boehner and Trump didn’t know who he was. So Trump went with Priebus because Ryan and McConnell told him to.

          Trump isn’t playing 4D chess, folks.

          http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/01/michael-wolff-fire-and-fury-book-donald-trump.html

  16. Carlton West
    January 10, 2019 at 18:28

    No, thanks. Can’t stand Christian Bale.

    • KiwiAntz
      January 10, 2019 at 20:54

      Have to disagree with your comment, Bale was terrific in VICE & won a Golden Globe for his performance!

      • Litchfield
        January 13, 2019 at 14:06

        Concur. Bales is fantastic, and so is the rest of the cast. Superb film.
        Don’t be silly and sulk because it sounds as the film does’t match what you think it should contain.
        That would be cutting off your nose to spite your face.

    • Will
      January 11, 2019 at 09:18

      This oft repeated news tidbit is reason enough to like Mr. bale: “Christian Bale thanks Satan at the Golden Globes for inspiring his performance as Dick Cheney in ‘Vice'”

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