Clearly, the White House’s strategy here was tin-eared. Not only did it not reach out to interest groups and Congress, but it wrote a plan that just gave the Executive untrammeled and unreviewable authority to play with the economy.
Hmmmm….botched political strategy? In order to give the Executive massive and unreviewable power? Where have I seen that before?
The original bill had Cheney’s and Addington’s fingerprints all over it. It’s vintage Cheney: just charge ahead and take command to make the “tough calls” and the reaction be damned. And often his incompetence shows through. As Gellman reports in his book, it was Cheney who refused to negotiate with Jim Jeffords, leading to the short Dem takeover of the Senate in 2001. It was Cheney who pushed ahead with his energy task force, making absurd claims for Presidential power and achieving nothing. Gellman also reveals that Cheney had initially persuaded Bush to certify the NSA wiretapping program himself, which would have led to dozens of of DOJ officials resigning. (Bush backed down after recognizing that the political fallout in an election year could be fatal.).
LIttle wonder that it was Cheney who went to the Hill in the middle of last week to try to get House Republicans in line.
Cheney’s strength, Gellman notes, was that he knows exactly what he wants and will always try to get there. As Paul Krugman has rightfully remarked, this is an administration that tried to use crises, not to solve them.