Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Cheney as Businessman

Darth Veep
William Greider of The Nation magazine has a bit on Dick Cheney's time in “the real world” of business. For 5 years, he was CEO of Halliburton, before picking himself to rule the world.
When he left Halliburton in 2000 to become George W. Bush's running mate, the Republican ticket was touted as two tough-minded business executives running against wimpish politicians. "The American people should be pleased they have a vice presidential nominee who has been successful in business," Karen Hughes, Bush's then-communications director, enthused.
We remember. But…
A rather different story is told by a class-action investor lawsuit against Halliburton, recently revived after languishing for four years. It describes Cheney as not much different from other corporate titans ensnared by accusations of fraud. Brushing aside facts and subordinates' warnings, CEO Cheney made a series of daring but wrong decisions that were disastrous for the company. The managerial incompetence was compounded by fraudulent accounting gimmicks that concealed the company's true condition. Cheney, however, relentlessly issued bullish assurances, hiding the losses and pumping up the stock price.

Eventually, the truth caught up with the company —its stock tanked— but Cheney was already off to Washington, $40 million richer and running the country. He sold his shares at the top. HAL, the Halliburton stock symbol, began falling a few months after his resignation, from $53 to an eventual low of $8. By then Bush/Cheney were rolling out another bold venture — the invasion of Iraq.

A pity voters didn't know this side of the story back in 2000. Cheney's performance as CEO predicted his subsequent behavior as Veep: the willful ignorance and bullying manipulation of policy, the arrogance that led the country into deep trouble.
Unmitigated assholes. Those who voted for them have a lot to answer for.

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