Notes: Last Thursday, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney met with the 9/11 commission. The session was held in the Oval Office and by news reports was a cordial meeting. There was no record made of the session though there was a person taking notes for Bush and Cheney and another for the commission. Neither Bush nor Cheney was put under oath. Apparently, no bombshells were dropped during the interview.

Both Al Gore and Bill Clinton previously had private sessions with the commission, so I didn't find it unusual for Bush and Cheney to receive more or less the same treatment. However, several things struck me as worth at least passing notice. Bush and Cheney had fought tooth and nail against the creation of the commission only giving in to it formation under pressure. Once it was formed, they fought heartily against being interviewed by the commission again giving in only under pressure. Yet during the week, Bush tried to make it appear as though he had wanted the commission all along and that he was glad he was getting to appear before it. The spinning seemed a bit Orwellian.

The demand by the White House that Bush and Cheney appear jointly before the commission is the subject of this week's cartoon and the basis for relentless jokes on late-night TV and the Internet. Many serious political analysts have smiled when asked about the requirement for the joint appearance and commented that it's always less pressure when there are two of you. Moreover, some have said that it seemed fairly clear that the White House thought that Cheney would be better equipped for to answer the questions than Bush. A legal angle may have been that by being interviewed together as opposed to separately, Bush and Cheney could not be put in the position of making inconsistent or contradictory statements. Instead, they could keep their stories straight.

I would have thought that the White House would worry about reaffirming the feeling that many in the country have that Cheney is really running things and not Bush. However, there's the following somewhat odd outlook on that from Bob Woodward's book "Plan of Attack" as excerpted on April 20, 2004 in the Washington Post:

"Rove [Karl Rove] argued that the politics of the Cheney-is-in-charge thesis worked in their favor. First, anyone who believed that was long lost to them anyway. Second, Rove wanted them to keep talking about it, throw the campaign into that briar patch. He believed the ordinary person wouldn't buy it. Here 67 percent were saying Bush was a strong leader and that included a third of the people who disapproved of his performance in office. A strong leader would not kowtow to his vice president, and Bush did not look meek in public."
05.02.04