This New York Times piece on how the Libby trial affects Cheney starts with the already-conventional wisdom that the trial will hurt Cheney’s stature. There’s nothing there we haven’t heard already, just the usual carefully phrased material about how this could signal Cheney’s political downfall (with much of the media clearly hoping it does). Eventually, though, the story moves on to some interesting bits about how the trial has affected Cheney personally:
On a personal level, friends of the vice president say the trial has been deeply painful for him. Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney were all but inseparable — Ms. Matalin has called the former aide “Cheney’s Cheney” — and often started their days by riding to work together. Mr. Libby accompanied the vice president almost everywhere he went, and Mr. Cheney made clear his high professional and personal regard for his aide, even playing host to a book party for him in 2002 at his official residence. Alan K. Simpson, a Republican former senator from Mr. Cheney’s home state, Wyoming, said he saw Mr. Cheney over Christmas and asked how he was doing. He took the answer as a kind of oblique reference to the Libby case.
“He said, ‘I’m fine, I’m O.K., I have people I trust around me — it’s the same old stuff, Al,’ ” Mr. Simpson recalled.
Another friend of Mr. Cheney’s, Vin Weber, a Republican former congressman, said the verdict had “got to be heartbreaking for the vice president.”
You can hear it now: That’s the sound of Democrats collectively asking, “Wait a second–Cheney has a heart?” As we know, a segment of the left views Cheney as some sort of scheming, flame-breathing demon who runs around torturing cats with a Halliburton-made pitchfork–or at the very least, a heartless war-mongering political machine. Too often, the political press forget that the politicians they cover are, well, people, so it’s nice to see the New York Times recognize, at least for a moment, that Cheney’s an actual human being with a life outside of the role he’s usually assigned as Purveyor of War and Evil. As much as some want to see this case as a sort of abstract judgment on the Bush administration and its perceived sins, it’s a case about human beings with lives and families–and real consequences for them.