CHENEY: ME-NOT-ME DON'T PLAY THAT WAY. A day after Richard V. Cheney shook his finger at Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf for not doing enough to rid Pakistan's border region of Taliban and al-Qaeda, Cheney got a taste of what it's like to be Musharraf when a Taliban suicide bomber detonated, within Cheney's earshot, a device that killed 23 people at the U.S. base at Bagram Airport. But the latest twist, in a story that gets more bizarre by the minute, is an interview given by "a senior administration official" who would only allow him or herself to be identified that way, using the first person to discuss the way in which the vice president operates. From the AP:

"Let me just make one editorial comment here," the official said. "I've seen some press reporting says, 'Cheney went in to beat up on them, threaten them.' That's not the way I work. I don't know who writes that, or maybe somebody gets it from some source who doesn't know what I'm doing, or isn't involved in it. But the idea that I'd go in and threaten someone is an invalid misreading of the way I do business.

One thing you can say about Cheney, the guy's got brass ones. Combine that with a severe case of Shame Deficit Disorder (SDD) and you come up with a vice president who manipulated intelligence to bring the U.S. into a war in Iraq that diverted resources away from the war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Pashtunistan (the areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan inhabited by ethnic Pashtuns) who now points the finger at Musharraf -- who's got his own Pashtun problem, in that not a few would like to kill him. Cheney's complaint against Musharraf? The latter isn't doing enough to rout out, from Pakistan's Pashtun lands, the Taliban and al-Qaeda types who are training there. In October, either Musharraf's army or U.S. forces (eyewitness accounts vary) bombed a madrassah in a Pakistani Pashtun village said to be housing and/or training a bunch of bad guys. A couple of weeks later, an ambush in Dargai by Taliban-types took the lives of 42 Pakistani soliders. For his post 9-11 role as America's favorite dictator, Musharraf himself has survived three assassination attempts.

With their attempt on Cheney, the Taliban make their point just as the U.S. plans a mini-surge in Afghanistan, and NATO continues its campaign in the country's southern region.

Between the Bagram bomb, the "anonymous official" on Air Force Two talking about Cheney in the first person, and that anonymous official's notable double negative (I wonder what the valid misreading of the anonymous guy's SOP would sound like), the case grows ever stronger for keeping Cheney sequestered in his bunker with a case of O'Doul's.

--Adele M. Stan

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