The den of Vice

New Follow the Washington Post series on the most power VP ever here. – Bush’s personal insecurity and search for daddy men and mommy women to pat him on the fanny and say “good job, junior” when first elected made his administration a tragicomedy. But nothing was worse for the nation than his allowing Vice President Cheney to develop and operate a shadow presidency.

Could anyone imagine any other time in their memory that a lead article like Iran Strategy Stirs Debate at White House could appear in a major newspaper? It describes how “a new dispute over whether diplomacy has any hope of reining in Iran’s nuclear program pits the secretary of state against hawks in the vice president’s office.

Of the fourteen vice presidents who became president, unless you count John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, none came close to the kind of influence Dick Cheney has had during his tenure as vice president.

Historians will puzzle over what enabled this second rate politico and corporate weasel to gain the power of a quasi-president. I think they will determine that 9-11 had a great deal to do with it. However I don’t think it was 9-11 per se that allowed this to happen.

In my opinion it was the competence vacuum in the Oval Office and the leadership and intellectual vacuum in its occupant’s psyche that opened the doors for Cheney and his cadre of neocons to grab unprecedented control of international relations.

Putting aside the Iran issue, can anybody image the following being written about any other vice president:

Only a few weeks ago, one of Mr. Cheney’s top aides, David Wurmser, told conservative research groups and consulting firms in Washington that Mr. Cheney believed that Ms. Rice’s diplomatic strategy was failing, and that by next spring Mr. Bush might have to decide whether to take military action.
The vice president’s office has declined to talk about Mr. Wurmser’s statements, and says Mr. Cheney is fully on board with the president’s strategy.

Can anybody remember newspapers even writing about “the vice president’s office” in such a way on any major issue of national or international significance?

I thought that the vice president’s job was to break ties in the Senate, be an advisor to the president if asked, to take on special assignments for the White House, and primarily to be prepared to take over if the president died or became disabled.

This vice president has redefined the role not just because he was modern day Machiavelli, but because President Bush needed a daddy to tell him what a dandy son he was.


  1. Rick Fuller

    Hal, don’t you think the when Dick Cheney was “searching for a Vice-President” to compliment George W. Bush, he saw a man that could be manipulated?

    I’m sure he, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz must have jumped in glee when they realized “they” could run the government when George W. Bush won.

    George W. Bush is merely a figurehead who enjoys the “power” of the Presidency. To support my claim, just consider that Mr. Bush is only now reconciling his record to his “legacy.”

  2. Bill Robinson

    Bush’s idea of “Legacy” is what happens when he is wearing shorts.
    Nice article Hal, but I think you could have gone into more specific details and filled it out. I agree with everything both you and Rick said, and always felt that Cheney was behind EVERYTHING! I believe that Cheney sold Bush on the war by dangling untold billions of dollars that were ripe for the stealing in front of his greedy, beady eyes. Cheney out-bid Daddy Bush for junior’s loyalty, so there was never any doubt as to whom would be running things.
    Pops was relegated to flitting around the world with President Clinton (call WJC a philanderer, a publicity hound or whatever else you care to, he was still a really good President) doing the charitable gig. Sort of pablum with money.
    So we all know that Dead-Eye Dick Cheney, the one blast shotgun Vice-President, has been running things all along. Just look at who disappeared immediately after 9-11. Bush was out front blabbing while Cheney was hidden deep in some safe salt mine miles below any danger.
    After all, it was he who was running things, maybe even the destruction of the Twin Towers on 9-11. Someone blew up those buildings from the inside. Those two airplanes could not have done what damage occurred. Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz were at a school on how to start a war a few months before 9-11.
    Some coincidence isn’t it!

  3. Hal Brown

    1) Rick: Yes – I think Cheney knew that Bush would be easy to manipualte.

    2) Bill: I know my column was sketchy, but I have been so preoccuppied with my efforts to fight an group determined to keep a Native American casino from our near bankrupt town – a casino which will revitalize our town – that I had all I could do to write what I did. (see .)

    I hope stalwart commentors like you and Rick can flesh out what I started now tha comments are enabled again.