It is apparent that former President George W. Bush's biggest mistake in his eight long years in office was choosing Dick Cheney as his running mate. Put another way, since Cheney was in charge of the vice presidential selection process, he mistakenly picked himself and then overpowered the younger and more inexperienced Bush for most of two terms.
In recent days, the former vice president demonstrated once again that he just doesn't get it. Cheney told an interviewer that the nation is likely to suffer another terrorist attack if the Obama administration changes any security policies he and Bush put in place.
In other words, if the nation is attacked, Cheney can gloat: "I told you so." Only Cheney could come up with such a scare-the-hell-out-of-em scenario, based on no evidence other than in his mind. Moreover, he claimed the strike may be even a nuclear device or biological, killing hundreds of thousands of Americans.
Cheney added that he opposes the closing of the notorious prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, as ordered by President Obama. Forget that the president was surrounded by high-ranking former military officers who approved the closing, aware that our own prisoners could be held for years and suffer illegal torture.
Cheney wouldn't understand the military reasoning since he never wore the nation's uniform and had multiple student deferments during the war in Vietnam.
Further, we know now that he was hardly a strict team player in the White House. To wit:
- In his final months in office, even some Bush advisers suggested closing Guantánamo. Cheney opposed it with the same vigor he shows now.
- Bush did not give a full pardon to Cheney's chief of staff, the convicted liar Scooter Libby.
Cheney wanted the pardon.
- Bush reluctantly shoved Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld out of office after the 2006 election. Cheney, a longtime protégé of Rumsfeld's, disagreed, despite even Republican anger at Rumsfeld's actions.
Evidence keeps piling up that Cheney was a potent and unrestricted figure in the Bush years. He and his highly secretive and arrogant counsel, David Addington, still think that waterboarding and other methods of "persuasion" of prisoners are not torture. They are in a huge minority, especially among those who have seen the reputation of the United States diminish among its allies and friends.
Even staunch Republican candidates in the last campaign knew better than to invite Cheney to aid their cause. He was a pariah except to the most right-wing in the party.
It is time for the media to let Cheney fade away. He is no longer a newsmaker or even making news with things he's said before ad nauseam.
A public servant is only as good and durable as his or her credibility. Cheney, a onetime highly respected aide in the Gerald Ford White House and George H. W. Bush's Pentagon, lost his in the later years of service.
- Read more by John W. Mashek.
- Read more from the Thomas Jefferson Street blog.
- Read more about Dick Cheney.