Framing the Dialogue

In My Time

It seems that I grew up with Dick Cheney and hardly knew it until the last ten years.  Vice President Cheney’s political career and life really spanned my teenage years when he was with Nixon/Ford then Bush 1 then Bush 2.  There is perhaps no greater lightening rod in the Republican party than Mr. Cheney.  I sit near a gentleman at work who volunteered how much he hated Dick Cheney when he noticed that I was reading his book at lunch.  Like his career In My Time is a long account of his time in both the private and public sector.  Mr. Cheney provides a great deal of depth behind many of the most “controversial” decisions made during the Bush presidency.  I used the quotes around controversial because they perhaps weren’t so controversial when you read his side; a side of decisions that were not advanced enough for my taste. 

It was humorous to read about his early days in the Nixon Administration working for Donald Rumsfeld on the Cost of Living Council where they were pursuing a little bit of socialism,

“We regulated seafood products ‘including those which have been shelled, shucked, iced, skinned, scaled, eviscerated, or decapitated.’  We covered products custom-made to individual order, including leather goods, fur apparel, jewelry, and wigs and toupees…As assistant director for operations, I over saw some three thousand IRS agents tasked with enforcing wage and price controls.”

Some things might surprise you about Vice-President Cheney;

He was not fond of the main-stream media;

“Many in the Pentagon had a deep distrust of the media that was in part left over from Vietnam.  There was a view – which I shared – that unduly negative reporting had helped sour public opinion on that war.  The Tet Offensive, for example, was presented as a devastating blow to our side, when, in fact, we dealt out punishing losses to the North Vietnamese.  Operation Just Cause deepened my conviction that the press ought not be the final arbiter of whether we have won or lost a war.  When it came time for Desert Storm, I would try to be sure that we had maximum opportunity to communicate directly with the American people – without going through the filter of the press.”

He didn’t feel like the Administration got fair play by critics;

“we released ‘Reliable, Affordable, and Environmentally Sound Energy for America’s Future,’ [energy policy]…the report is one I am very proud of.  I commend it to anyone looking to understand America’s energy challenges still today.  The report had its critics, but I’ve long suspected them of not reading it.”

Much was made of tensions between him and Colin Powell and Condoleza Rice, but it seemed like this friction started when they went to the State Department.  I’ll leave the details to the book, but Mr. Cheney does not portray a pretty picture of America’s diplomats.  Some will chalk this discussion up to a conservative’s musings, but having lived through this recent history his claims seem to bear out. 

Perhaps we should all thank Vice President Cheney for all of his years of service to our country.  He seems like someone that I’d like to have dinner and a beer with.

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