A Scary Heartbeat From the Presidency

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In the last few days, Vice President Cheney has taken his troublingly erratic behavior to a new level.

Cheney has asserted on numerous occasions that his office is part of the executive branch and therefore he is protected by its perks and privileges, at least when it comes to his own accountability.

Two notably pungent examples are keeping secret the inner workings of his Energy Task Force and protecting himself against a civil lawsuit filed by Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame.

On the other hand, Cheney has asserted that his office is not fully part of the executive branch since the veep also is the president of the Senate. Never mind that the office is mentioned no fewer than 24 times in the U.S. Constitution in connection with the presidency.

A notably pungent example is his claim that he does not have to abide by a presidential order regulating federal agencies’ handling of classified national security information. When this view was challenged by an office in the National Archives responsible for enforcing the order, he sought to have it abolished. Kind of like bombing Iran, which he fervently advocates, although on a much smaller scale.

The veep’s seeming craziness may have a simple explanation: He isn’t getting enough oxygen to his brain as a result of an astounding number of medical problems.

Don’t laugh.

Cheney is badly damaged goods and is alive because he has had numerous medical procedures. These include a defibrillator implantation because of atherosclerosis stemming from high cholesterol and obesity, four heart attacks, one of which led to a coronary stent and another to a coronary bypass, an angioplasty because of unstable angina, congestive heart failure, a tube prosthesis because of knee aneurysms, an inability to stay awake (see photo) and breathlessness. He takes a suite of powerful medications, including one to control gout.

Yes, the man who is literally an irregular heartbeat away from the presidency is a walking medical and pharmacological time bomb whose frequent visits to hospitals typically are denied by his secrecy obsessed office (when not misusing classified information) and only later confirmed when confronted by the evidence.

I don’t know about you, but the notorious incident in which Cheney shot a hunting companion makes more sense. As does his erratic behavior.

I don’t know which is more frightening:

The prospect of surviving the remaining 18 months of the Bush presidency or the specter of Cheney taking over should anything happen to Bush.