Toto Awards

Toto Award Winner Eric Alterman Says Cheney Runs the Country, and He's Nuts
Toto Awards

Eric Alterman wins a Toto Award for revealing Cheney is the "Wizard" behind the curtain. "1. For foreign policy purposes, Dick Cheney is President: Cheney wanted this war from way back when; it was Bush who needed convincing... When the President is not around, Administration officials refer to Cheney as 'the Man,' as in, 'The Man wants this' or 'The Man thinks that.' 2. That's too bad, because unfortunately Cheney is nuts. As Powell puts it, Cheney was in the grip of a 'fever,' no longer the 'steady, unemotional rock that he had witnessed a dozen years earlier during the run-up to the Gulf War. The vice president was beyond hell-bent for action against Saddam. It was as if nothing else existed.' Woodward gives us the backstory: Cheney, confirmed by his equally fevered aide 'Scooter' Libby, repeatedly pitched--as he does today--the apparently imaginary meeting between Mohamed Atta and Iraqi intelligence in Prague. Powell/Woodward aptly term this contention 'worse than ridiculous.'"

Toto Award to Chris Matthews!
Toto Awards

Speaking at Brown, Chris "Matthews said the Bush administration's rationale for going to war in Iraq was 'nonsense' and totally dishonest. He laid most of the blame at the door of Cheney. 'Cheney is behind it all,' the former newspaper reporter and columnist said. 'The whole neo-conservative power vortex, it all goes through his office. He has become the chief executive. He's not the chief operating officer, he's running the place. It's scary.' Matthews painted Cheney as the guy 'who put his thumb on the scale' to affect the balance between Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. 'The ideologues started circling around the president,' Matthews said, warming to his topic. 'They saw a man who never read any books, who didn't think too deeply and they gave him something to think about for the first time in his life. This thing called pre-emption, the Bush Doctrine. They put it in his head and said 'Iraq, Iraq, Iraq.'" Matthews wins a Toto!

Toto Award! 'Dick Cheney, Commander in Chief'
Toto Awards

Long-time readers of Democrats.com remember our "Toto Awards," given to journalists who - like Dorothy's little dog Toto - pull back the curtain of the Wizard of Oz (Bush) to reveal the man behind (Cheney). Our new Toto Award winner is Jim Lobe of Alternet: "The image of the president of the United States as a tame horse, saddled up and ridden by his own vice president, may seem overblown, but [Senator Joe] Biden is not alone in his assessment of the White House's internal dynamics. When it comes to foreign policy, Cheney is increasingly seen as holding the reins in the power circles within Washington."

Toto Award: Maureen Dowd
Toto Awards

Loyal readers of Democrats.com know we bestow the coveted Toto Award to journalists who pull the curtain back to expose the truth that the fierce Wizard on the TV screen (Bush) is just an image controlled by a colorless corporate con man (Cheney). Here is Maureen Dowd's winning entry: "Even Republicans have begun privately admitting what Democrats have been whispering: Mr. Cheney is running the country. He can't get off the ticket because Mr. Bush won't get off the treadmill... Like a buoyant Dr. Evil holding a napping Bush Mini-Me in a Snugli, Mr. Cheney seems to relish running the world alone. Consider how primary the secondary man is. Without Mr. Cheney, America would not be planning to invade Iraq. Who else understands why the U.S. is starting a war without provocation for the first time in its history? ... Only one question remains [for 2004]: Will the vice keep the president?" Hey Maureen - you get extra points for pointing out Cheney's Halliburton web site scrub!

Toto Award: Lynn Sweet AND Karen Hughes
Toto Awards

Sun Times reporter Lynn Sweet hasn't seen much of Cheney since his "commanding presence" on Meet the Press, so she asked Karen Hughes about it. Read carefully: "While Cheney has all but vanished from public view, his influence remains considerable, said Hughes. THAT'S ''THE REASON THE PRESIDENT CHOSE THE VICE PRESIDENT TO BE PRESIDENT, to be vice president, because of his wisdom and good judgment and knowledge and perspective,' said Hughes, who quickly fixed her slip of the tongue. 'He values very much the vice president's judgment and advice,' she said." A slip of the tongue? Hardly! As we know, eventually the truth will come out.

Half-Toto Award: Eric Schmitt
Toto Awards

According to Eric Schmitt of the NY Times Dick Cheney continues to make Bush's most important decisions. "The television appearance the Sunday after the attacks may have left the impression that the vice president was the man in command at the White House, an image he has apparently sought to dispel by keeping a low profile since then. But behind the scenes, Mr. Cheney continues to play a major role as war minister, über diplomat, political adviser and consigliere to President Bush." Bush tells Rumsfeld what to do, created the Office of Homeland Security (and picked Tom Ridge to run it, getting him ready to take over as VP), and negotiated the administration's latest budget deal. As for his health, don't worry - "doctors assigned to him around the clock monitor him closely."

Toto Award: NY Post's 'Page Six' Exposes Cheney's Role on September 11
Toto Awards

While Bush was reading to students in Florida when terrorists attacked on on Sept. 11, VP Dick Cheney was running the US government. "I was in a position to see all the stuff coming in, receive reports, and then make decisions in terms of acting with it," Cheney told [Tim] Russert. "The president made [the rogue airliner] decision, on my recommendation." But Cheney's honesty on Sept. 16 created a firestorm. "Rove and Hughes, according to [Page 6's] spies, were 'furious' with Cheney for 'taking credit for all the major decisions made by Bush [on Sept. 11] and sidelining the President.' 'Everything [Cheney] said reinforced all the negative opinions about Bush [during the show]. He basically made the President look like his puppet.'" This explains why Cheney has not been seen since he appeared on Russert's show. But it begs the essential question: who's in charge of the White House - Bush, Cheney, or Rove & Hughes?

Half-Toto Award: Tom Shales
Toto Awards

TV critic Tom Shales wins a Half-Toto Award for sniffing out the man behind the curtain. "A man purporting to be president of the United States appeared on national television last night to announce and discuss his decision on human embryonic research. Yes, the man was none other than George W. Bush, who is indeed the president of record, but this chief executive has used television so little during his first seven months in office that he could hardly be called a familiar sight to viewers. Some may have thought they were looking at Dick Cavett, to whom Mr. Bush bears a certain facial and physical resemblance." Remember, to win a FULL Toto, a reporter must reveal that Dick Cheney is the little man behind the curtain, who projects the image of Shrub onto the big screen...

Toto Award: Robert Scheer
Toto Awards

Columnist Robert Scheer wins a coveted Toto Award for exposing Dick Cheney as the "man behind the curtain", who really runs the White House. "There was something macabre about Bush's cheerful insistence that Cheney would soon be back on the job because the vice president just loves to work so hard. Isn't it a bit weird that it is George W., the young healthy guy, who has to take all of those daytime naps? Perhaps Bush is conserving his energy because he knows that he's only a heartbeat away from the presidency. He may also have a darker view of Cheney's condition, having access to the vice president's medical records, which have been held secret. This is unprecedented for a president or vice president in modern times. It's a sad measure of the president's need for adult supervision that Cheney has become the first vice president in modern U.S. history to seize control of the White House and render the president himself a public relations front man sent around the country to do photo ops."

Half-Toto Award: Edward Chen of the Los Angeles Times
Toto Awards

"'He's engaged. But it's all surface engagement--all kinds of wisecracks, snortling and nicknames,' fumed a Republican senator who participated in the recent budget meeting in the White House Cabinet Room. George Walker Bush's reputation as a detail-averse chief executive preceded his inauguration as America's 43rd president. But his hands-off management style is beginning to rankle... Even some congressional Republicans who wish Bush well are warning that he is unlikely to get much more of his agenda through Congress unless he can demonstrate a firmer grasp of details... [Princeton's Fred] Greenstein said he was especially troubled by the way the White House developed Bush's national energy plan. 'The buck stopped in meetings that Cheney was in charge of, not in the Oval Office,' he said." So writes Edward Chen. Hey Ed - if you report that Cheney is REALLY in charge, we'll give you a FULL Toto!

Toto Award: Maureen Dowd
Toto Awards

Maureen Dowd reports on an imagined (barely!) conversation between Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld."He thinks the missile shield really exists?" Rummy smirks, sipping his Scotch. "So did Reagan. Probably better that way. Keeps the Commies guessing when the president sounds so sincere." "Yup." "We can stick it to the Russians, the Chinese and the North Koreans — to say nothing of Daschle, Biden and Kerry. And think of all our buddies at Boeing! Think of the billions that will go to Lockheed, TRW, General Dynamics! Can you believe those pointy heads on the ethics board want us to divest our portfolios?"

Toto Award: Bob Herbert
Toto Awards

"Did Americans really want a president who would smile in the faces of poor children even as he was scheming to cut their benefits? Did they want a man who would fight like crazy for enormous tax cuts for the wealthy while cutting funds for programs to help abused and neglected kids?" So writes New York Times columnist Bob Herbert.

Toto Award: Paul Krugman
Toto Awards

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wins a Toto Ward for his yeoman's work to expose Bush's unending lies. "The estimated cost of the tax cut hasn't exploded because of new information; it has exploded because the original estimates were simply dishonest. Mr. Bush knew from the start that he was misleading the public about the budget impact of his proposals, just as he knows that he is misleading people now about whose taxes will be cut and by how much. This contractor didn't make an honest error; he deliberately deceived the homeowner. And as long as he keeps getting away with it, he sees no reason to change the way he does business."

Toto Award: Helen Thomas
Toto Awards

Helen Thomas is the dean of the Washington press corps, and the woman who broke the glass ceiling for women reporters. And she knows a naked emperor when she sees one. "We have a president who was appointed by the Supreme Court, not chosen by the will of the American people. The stopping of counting the people's votes was the bottom line…for the Supreme Court to uphold it, make it a catch-22... it's unbelievable." That's just for starters - take a tour through four decades of Presidential history.

Toto Award: David Broder
Toto Awards

You know the Republican fouls are flagrant when even ultra-centrist David Broder blows the whistle. He pulls back the curtain on the major media - which is just as worthy as unmasking the clown prince who now squats in our Oval Office. "What is striking is how little the broad public learns of these battles or influences their outcome. The ergonomics regulations were rolled back on successive days last week, with little advance notice and only a few hours of debate in the House and Senate. The bankruptcy bill has rarely made TV news shows or newspaper front pages. And yet millions of people will be affected. Bankruptcy filings have climbed to 1.4 million a year. Estimates are that 1.8 million people a year suffer some form of repetitive motion distress -- almost two-thirds of them women, entering data into computers all day long, changing bed linens in hotels or slicing chickens at food processing plants."

Toto Awards: Joel Engelhardt and Scott McCabe
Toto Awards

Joel Engelhardt and Scott McCabe, staff writers for the Palm Beach Post, win Toto Awards for daring to examine the ballots in Palm Beach - and daring to report the fact that Gore's gains would have given him Florida's 25 electors - if Katherine Harris, Jeb Bush, and the US Supreme Court had not committed treason by stopping the recount.

Toto Award: CNN's Bernie Shaw
Toto Awards

Here's an item from the Baltimore Sun: "One potentially revealing peek came last week, when the major network TV anchors and talk-show hosts were invited to a White House lunch several hours before the president [sic] spoke to a joint session of Congress. Among those attending was CNN's Bernard Shaw, who was seated beside Bush and across from Cheney. As questions were put to the president [sic], the veteran newsman observed that Cheney seemed to be providing cues to Bush. 'I noticed that the president [sic] kept looking at you,' Shaw told Cheney in an on-air interview the next day. 'And you were indicating your attitude, your feelings, about questions being asked,' using body language, facial expressions and 'your eyes.' Apparently caught off-guard, Cheney stammered that 'we're - we're both Westerners. I know he's from Texas. I'm from Wyoming. There can be some connection there.' " Yes – you're both wholly-owned subsidiaries of the same oil interests!

Toto Award: William O'Rourke
Toto Awards

William O'Rourke, in a Chicago Sun-Times Commentary, says that the reason even the absence of Clinton overshadows the presence of Bush, is because Bush is such a lightweight. "The outskirts of Baghdad have been bombed, but everyone presumes that was the work of the original Gulf War team, Colin Powell and Dick Cheney. George W. doesn't yet seem to be the commander in chief. He talks to military audiences, but only to promise them better barracks."

Toto Awards
Toto Awards

When Dorothy's dog Toto pulls back the curtain to reveal the little man pretending to be the Wizard of Oz, the man in the booth declares: "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!" Now, more than ever, America needs Toto to expose the men behind the curtain who are creating the illusion that the Wizard of W is somehow the leader of the free world.