Dick Cheney - Good Guy

Hugh Hewitt interviewed Stephen Hayes, the author of Cheney: The Untold Story of America's Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President, on his radio show Wednesday. The interview was fascinating as Hayes related some of the experiences he had while interviewing Cheney and President Bush as he worked on the book. It sounds like a good book and I've added it to my ever growing reading list.

From Hugh's blog: Cheney

[...] The next president has got to chose a vice president as skilled as Cheney and a team as experienced as that which was around President Bush after 9/11 if only because the scale of the responsibility is so great and the need for clear thinking so profound. The people diseased with BDS will never get this, but the country is extraordinarily blessed to have had President Bush and Vice President Cheney and their senior aides during these first few years of a very long war. Reading Hayes' book drives that point home again and again.
Read the whole transcript of the interview here.

Listen to audio of the interview Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 (each clip app. 34 minutes).

Hayes likes Cheney.

HH: [...] So back to the thirty hours, do you like the guy?
SH: Yeah, I do like the guy. You know, he gets a bad rap, and to be candid, I think he deserves some of the blame for that, because he doesn’t put himself out ever. You know, he doesn’t do this kind of thing. But I think if people had the opportunity to sit down with him and sit across from him, or listen to him more in long interview formats, which is what he prefers, I think it’s hard not to like the guy. And not just me, now it’s important to say this, Lee Hamilton, you know, Democratic representative from Indiana, former Democratic representative from Indiana, I said to him what explains Dick Cheney’s Darth Vadar image? Because as you know, if you look at the body of political coverage of Dick Cheney, from the time he came to Washington until he was chosen as vice president, it’s so overwhelmingly positive, it’s almost embarrassing for the Washington Press Corps.
Hayes interviewed the President for the Cheney book. Despite the reporting from time to time how Bush has shunned the VeePee and there's a chill between the two, etc., apparently the President likes Cheney and respects his input and counsel.

HH: This is extraordinarily well reported. You met with the President in December of ’06. Did you just have the one conversation with Bush?

SH: We ended up having two, actually.

HH: About Cheney, and did he warm to that subject? Was he eager to set the record straight about Dick Cheney?

SH: I think he was. I mean, he was, you know, as I was with my time with Cheney, I found Bush to be remarkably candid in these sessions. I mean, things that I didn’t expect, the first interview, the second question I asked, I just asked sort of a general, sort of a warm-up question. What can you tell us, the American public, that we don’t know that would surprise us about Dick Cheney? And the President launched into sort of the tension in his relationship with the Vice President, because the President favored a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, and the Vice President didn’t.


HH: When Cheney goes fishing with Bush, and this is from Page 497, with Bush in the President’s stocked pond on his ranch in Crawford, Cheney stands up. “We float out there, and he’s firing a fly at these large mouth bass,” says Bush. “We’re chucking bubba bait, and he’s fly fishing.” They sound like they’ve become pretty good friends, not just trusted advisor, but like Gore and Clinton were not friends.

SH: No, right, exactly. Well, there’s none of that rivalry, I mean, because Cheney’s not going to run. But they also joke with each other quite a bit, and there’s a great story, I think it’s a great story, from when I interviewed Bush in the Oval Office

Hugh and Hayes both think Cheney and Bush should do more long format interviews - something neither one does very often. Hugh talks about how neither are great orators but both are great conversationalists.

HH: This is my frustration, and you probably see this coming, I’ve also interviewed the Vice President. I’m a big, big fan…I worked for Lynne back when she was at NEH, and so I’ve just admired the family for a very long time. He’s so tremendously persuasive, as is the President. But they’ve got to get into these long form interviews. They’re not great orators. They’re tremendous conversationalists. But then they don’t do it.

SH: Right.
I have my suspicions on why neither do a lot of long format interviews. Part of it is because American's have too short of an attention span to llisten to the whole thing to get the full context of what was said, and the driveby media will take a snippet of the conversation and report it dishonestly, taking it out of context to snipe or make a point.

Witness what we have as the main reason for going into Iraq - WMD and mushroom clouds. Of all the speeches, of all the briefings, of all the talking Bush and Cheney and everyone else did leading up to the war as reasons to go to war with Iraq, the only thing most Americans remember and that the media and dishonest democrat politicians now spout is WMD and mushroom clouds. Why is that all that most Americans remember? Because it's what the sound bite media continuously repeats.

Essentially, if doesn't matter what either of them say, the driveby media is going to make them say what it wants them to have said.

We all know about Cheney's love of fishing, and his love of shooting. Apparently, according to Hugh, if the he had to give up one it would be fishing. Of course, that was a concession Hugh got from Cheney before the shooting incident.

HH: You covered the fishing, I thought, very, very well, particularly since I don’t fish. I don’t…but I asked him once if he had to give up either fishing or pheasant shooting, which one would it be, this was before the accident, and he said he’d give up fishing before he gave up shooting.

SH: No.

HH: Yes, he did. It’s what he told me.

SH: You’re kidding.

HH: No. Isn’t that amazing, given what…you chronicle how much he is into this stuff.

SH: That blows me away.

HH: Yeah, go ask him yourself.

Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. But maybe the most cerebral person in the White House since Woodrow Wilson. Who knew Bush had such smart people around him.

HH: He was going to be a PhD. He was going to be the Congressional fellow turned professor, and when his life took a turn…on two occasions, you talk about the three times, twice he chose academia over politics, and once, he chose government. Is that, do you think he’s perhaps the most cerebral guy we’ve had in or near the White House as president or vice president in, well, since Woodrow Wilson.

SH: You know, I consider Bill Clinton pretty cerebral. I mean, I don’t think he’s probably in Cheney’s class.

I've been a fan of Dick Cheney's since Bush picked him as his running mate in 2000. I thought it was a brilliant choice and think it should be a template for the selection of a Vice President for every Presidential candidate. Vice President as loyal lieutenant and trusted adviser. Someone you don't have to worry about going out and making their own policy and establishing their own identity to set him self up as the heir apparent to the Oval Office. Sure, it would be nice if right now if we had a solid conservative sitting in the Vice Presidency that had more than an even chance of being elected President. But what's more important to the nation and the highest elected office in the land? I'll pick someone like Dick Cheney everyday. Besides, the heir apparent role hasn't worked very well since FDR and Truman.

HH: Okay, my guest is Stephen Hayes, I’m going to take some calls, but first, I want to go through a couple of my specifics here. You had some amazing quotes from the President, and I’ve got to go find them here. It’s in the back here. Did he express any regret that Dick Cheney was not running for president?

SH: He didn’t. I pushed him on that, and the way that I pushed him on that…actually, I don’t know that this actually made the book, because it was too, it was a little clunky. But I think it’s great stuff. The way I asked the President was, you clearly believe that your policies have kept America safe.

HH: Right.

SH: You clearly believe that this is a struggle for Western civilization, and yet you haven’t asked your vice president, the person most likely to carry on your legacy, to succeed you. Why not? And he said I have talked to him, and he doesn’t want to do it.

HH: Wow.

Wow is right. But who can blame him. He's sixty six years old. He's got a bad heart. He's got six grand kids and he wants to fish and hunt. No one can say Dick Cheney hasn't served his country. There is only so much you can ask one person to do, and apparently Dick Cheney thinks he's done enough.

All in all I thought it was a fascinating interview and I'm looking forward to getting and reading the book in the near future. As I said earlier, I'm a fan of Dick Cheney's, so that probably explains some of my enthusiasm. Besides, how can you not like a guy who can shoot a lawyer and get by with it? As my Uncle said at the time, "If this thing with the Vice President shooting that lawyer turns out okay for him, I think I've got a plan..."