Past public officials luckily have the luxury of writing their own versions of history. Former Vice President Dick Cheney has his second rendition of his role in recent national events with no mea culpas.
The new book by Cheney and his daughter, Liz, titled In My Time, puts the best face on the invasion of Iraq. Thousands of Iraqis are dead. The 9/11 attack on the United States has been the perpetual excuse for the attack on Iraq and Afghanistan.
He brags about his support of torturing suspects – that is, terrorist suspects in a country we invaded (Iraq) under lies. There were no weapons of mass destruction and no ties between the slain Saddam Hussein and the al-Qaeda terrorist network.
I became acquainted with a docile Cheney who first served as chief of staff to Gerald Ford. Earlier, he twice flunked out of Yale. Although his father was a civil servant and a staunch Democrat, Cheney served in Congress as a strong conservative Republican.
He continued in his career as the head of Halliburton, growing rich from fat government contracts. Cheney, incidentally a war hawk, had five deferments for education and marriage during the Vietnam era.
Such people survive to write their memoirs twice, and all while living in two multi-million dollar homes, one in McLean, Virginia, and the other on the eastern shore of Maryland, next door to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Cheney has had heart problems for years, and his prolonged health care was provided by the federal government. Don’t you think that the man who lived on free medicine during his many public roles should be a supporter of Medicare and other social programs? Think again.
There were times when Cheney seemed to steal the show, diminishing President George W. Bush’s role. After 9/11, some called him “President Cheney.”
I’ll never forget, a short time before he left his number two post in the nation, Cheney said, “We know where they (the weapons) are.” Nobody told him to put up or shut up. The weapons were not found.
Cheney took power in the White House and tried to justify his overreach in the face of a rebellion by other top aides. Bush was left in the dark about the internal strife.
“From day one, George W. Bush made clear he wanted me to help govern … to the extent that this created a unique arrangement in our history, with the Vice President playing a significant role in the key policy issues of the day, it was George Bush’s arrangement,” Cheney writes.
We are bound to learn more in other memoirs over the ruckus between Cheney and the Department of Justice regarding spying on American citizens.
Cheney also boasts that he urged Bush to bomb a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor site in June 2007, but he said the President decided on a diplomatic approach upon the advice of others. “Bombs Away Cheney” claimed he was a lone voice in pushing for military action. Cheney’s hawkishness almost makes Bush look like a dove.
Cheney attacked Secretary of State Colin Powell who knew war as a general, claiming Powell tried to undercut Bush by privately expressing doubts about the Iraq war. Cheney admits in his book that he tried to have Powell kicked out of the cabinet after the 2004 election. Cheney said Powell’s resignation was “for the best.”
In addition to Powell and other Bush advisors, Cheney also tangled with National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, demeaning her as naive when she sought a peace agreement with North Korea. She will get back at him in her forthcoming memoir, telling her side of the Bush administration’s history.
Cheney is never wrong, and never a gentleman. Unfortunately we are still in a war he pushed for, and Americans and Iraqis are still dying.
Cheney also writes that he was happy Obama failed to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.
Cheney is worthy of the nickname Darth Vader, and leaves the legacy of violations of international treaties, which tarnished the U.S. reputation of treating adversaries with civility and decency.