Thursday, August 13, 2009
Since leaving office in January, former vice president Dick Cheney has lashed out at everyone around him like a taunted, caged animal. It’s fascinating to see a former number two break with presidential protocol and wage war against so many people at once. His targets have included President Obama, who Cheney accuses of “making us less safe.” Then, there’s the time-honored canard of the “far left” agenda. Allegedly in the process of writing his memoir in longhand on legal pads, Cheney seems unfazed about saving his thoughts for the book. But no one expected to see Cheney’s sharpest criticism saved for his boss of eight years, former president George W. Bush.
From the Washington Post:
“In the second term, he felt Bush was moving away from him,” said a participant in the recent gathering, describing Cheney’s reply. “He said Bush was shackled by the public reaction and the criticism he took. Bush was more malleable to that. The implication was that Bush had gone soft on him, or rather Bush had hardened against Cheney’s advice. He’d showed an independence that Cheney didn’t see coming. It was clear that Cheney’s doctrine was cast-iron strength at all times — never apologize, never explain — and Bush moved toward the conciliatory.”
Much of Cheney’s anger with Bush originates with Bush’s refusal to issue a presidential pardon of his close friend and alter ego, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby. Libby was Cheney’s chief of staff and he was convicted in 2007 of perjury and obstruction of an investigation of the leak of a clandestine CIA agent Valerie Plame’s identity:
Cheney tried mightily to prevent Libby’s fall, scrawling in a note made public at trial that he would not let anyone “sacrifice the guy that was asked to stick his neck in the meat grinder.” Cheney never explained the allusion, but grand jury transcripts — and independent counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald — suggested that Libby’s false statements aimed above all to protect the vice president.
As impossible as it may seem, Dick Cheney’s wrath toward his former boss may accomplish something no one thought was possible: to make George W. Bush a sympathetic character — an unwilling victim of Cheney’s maniacal world view. It’s entirely possible that historians will grade Cheney as the best to ever happen to George W. Bush’s legacy.