Six Questions for Bart Gellman, Author of Angler—By Scott Horton (Harper's Magazine):
There’s no venality here. Cheney was not trying to aggrandize himself, to steer money to friends, or to set himself up for higher office. He simply believed that the stakes were high and he was more capable than others. He saw the world, he believed, as it truly is and was prepared to do the “unpleasant” things that had to be done to safeguard us. Cheney is a rare combination: a zealot in principle and a subtle, skillful tactician in practice.
A lot of critics call Cheney and Addington contemptuous of the Constitution. I think that’s completely wrong–a cartoon that misses something important, because it fails to take them seriously. The vice president has an unyielding conviction, to which he has devoted substantial thought, about what the Constitution means. He occupies an extreme position in the usual separation-of-powers debate, sometimes beginning with widely accepted tenets but carrying them beyond the bounds of accepted scholarship. In his own frame of reference, the Constitution not only permits but compels him to help Bush break free of restraints on his prerogatives as commander in chief and leader of the unitary executive branch. But where Cheney does show contempt is for public opinion, the capacity of the citizenry at large to make rational decisions.