The Breakfast Table

Duller Than Dubya

Dear Tim,

Shucks. I missed Larry King Live last night, because it was Monday, and Monday is a day of the week, and I have a policy of missing Larry King Live on days of the week. But I did go to and find this transcript of the exchange:

WOODWARD: And it’s a big, big difference. Also, I think one of the personal factors is–if I can tell this story–in the ‘96 campaign book I did, The Choice, in going into Cheney’s decision not to run, it turned out that he has a relative who is gay and in examining the prospect he said, this is going to become part of the story. And he was very fearful of it.

KING: Close relative.

WOODWARD: I mean, I just wouldn’t go into the details.

KING: Would it come out?

WOODWARD: But I did learn the details of it and was thinking of putting this in the book.

KING: And did not?

WOODWARD: And word got to Cheney. And Cheney called me up and chewed me out and said: You have no right to do that. It is unfair–and in the course of the chewing out, convinced me that he was right. And I did not put in the details.


KING: You know the story.

ROLLINS: I know the story. The story will get out. I don’t think it matters anymore. And I think there’s a big difference in running for vice president …

I love the caveats: “if I can tell this story …” (a) If? You’re telling it anyway. The show is “live,” remember? b) You’re asking Larry King for permission to tell a story about a politician’s gay relative?) “I just wouldn’t go into the details …” (Thanks for the lead. We can dig up the rest of the story from here.) “[Cheney] said, You have no right to do that. It is unfair–and … convinced me that he was right. And I did not put in the details.” (Too bad he neglected to point out the unfairness of peddling the same story on national television.)

Speaking of live television–or in this case, streaming video–I just got through watching MSNBC’s Webcast of the Bush-Cheney press conference. If Mark Twain had covered this event, he would have written that reports of Cheney’s life are greatly exaggerated. “I enthusiastically accept the challenge,” Cheney declared with no visible enthusiasm. “I believe you have the vision and the courage to be a great president,” he said, apparently referring to Bush but staring steadfastly down at his script. Evidently Cheney is under doctors’ orders not to make any sudden or detectable movements in his face. The pundits say Cheney is supposed to close the “gravitas gap,” but the only gap I feel him closing is the one between my eyelids.

In fairness, he’s also closing the gap between Bush’s pulse and Gore’s. Remember John McCain’s joke about propping up Alan Greenspan’s corpse like they did in Weekend at Bernie’s? Everyone wonders how Cheney survived three heart attacks and a quadruple bypass. But how do we know he really did? Forget that story about the gay relative. The Pulitzer in this campaign is going to the reporter who gets close enough to the stage to poke Dick Cheney’s cadaver off the podium.