Where is Dick Cheney?
This is an excellent question, considering that the American public has barely seen or heard their vice president for over three weeks now.
In the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks, Cheney was highly visible, carrying on with his normal duties and making numerous public appearances.
Then, out of the blue, he mysteriously dropped off the radar one day, becoming almost invisible.
His absence was especially conspicuous at the swearing-in ceremony of Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge as the new director of homeland security last Monday. Cheney had been scheduled to appear at the function but canceled last minute, forcing Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas to stand in for him.
All the government will tell us by way of explanation is that Cheney is at a “safe, undisclosed location away from the White House.”
The government probably had the best of intentions in mind when they spirited the vice president away, but Cheney’s sudden and mysterious disappearance from the public eye during such a time of crisis is extremely disturbing.
His prolonged absence has left many Americans fearing the worst. Rumors fly that the vice president, whose health has recently been somewhat shaky, is desperately ill or dying. Some of my friends go so far as to insist Cheney has been dead for weeks and that the government is engaging in a massive cover-up to hide the terrible truth. I certainly don’t want to be alarmist, but I think such worriers have valid concerns, especially since no evidence has surfaced to the contrary.
If the vice president is as healthy and able as the government contends he is, he ought to be doing his job — in public. The government has been making excuses for Cheney’s disappearance, claiming it would be dangerous if both Bush and Cheny were traipsing around Washington, D.C., at the same time.
However, their allegation that Cheney must be hidden away for the sake of “national security” is ridiculous.
For one thing, the United States has absolutely no precedent of hiding its leaders during wars. Our leaders should be setting an example for us by refusing to succumb to the fear the terrorists inspire. Bush’s words urging Americans to let their lives return to normal ring hollow if the vice president is cowering in a reclusive bunker somewhere. Cheney, who played a vital role in the administration prior to the attacks, ought to be at the country’s fore, doing his job as usual.
Secondly, sending Cheney underground is simply not practical. So far, there has been no date set for his return. The government has admitted that the war on terrorism will take years to win — does that mean the vice president must remain in hiding for years? What is the point of even having a vice president if all he does is twiddle his thumbs all day at an “undisclosed location?”
Others have put an entirely different spin on Cheney’s recent hermitage. They maintain that the real reason the vice president is missing in action is that the incredible poise and resilience he exhibited in the wake of the attacks threatened to overshadow Bush. Even if this were true (which I seriously doubt it is), it would be completely illogical for the government to remove Cheney from the media circuit for the unlucky crime of being “too composed.”
So far, the government’s plan to lock Cheney away for our own good has backfired terribly. The vice president’s extended vacation has caused widespread alarm and agitation, and threatens to turn us into a nation of conspiracy theorists. It is imperative that Cheney make a public appearance within the next few days, although by now, I’ll be half-seriously wondering whether it’s really him or a just a cardboard cut-out.