‘Cheney fatique’ descends on GOP

Dick Cheney, who thrives on secrecy while pulling the levers of power, is getting caught in the glare of an unwelcome spotlight. Once viewed as a sage and mentor to President Bush, Cheney has approval ratings now that are as low as — or lower — than the president’s. Recent national polls have put them both in the high 20s.

Bush’s decision to spare former Cheney aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby from a 2 1/2-year prison sentence has focused new attention on the vice president and his possible role in the commutation.

Cheney’s relentless advocacy of the Iraq war, his push to expand presidential authority and his hard-line rhetoric toward North Korea and Iran are raising concerns even among former loyalists now worried about the GOP’s chances in 2008.

It seems Cheney fatigue is settling in some Republican circles.

Republican strategist Rich Galen, who worked for both Bush and Bush’s father, said he is finding less interest or enthusiasm for Cheney. “Republicans have, in essence, moved on and focused on who to get behind in 2008,” Galen said.

Cheney has drawn criticism and ridicule from Democrats for his close ties to Libby and for his contention — later modified — that his office is not “an entity within the executive branch.”

Bush last week commuted Libby’s sentence for his conviction of lying to investigators about his role in leaking the identity of a CIA operative, Valerie Plame. Plame’s husband, retired diplomat Joseph Wilson, was a prominent critic of the administration’s case for invading Iraq over weapons of mass destruction.

Bush said the sentence was excessive. The president kept the issue alive by saying he would not rule out an eventual full pardon for Libby.

Wilson said he would not be surprised if Cheney were “pulling the strings here, too” in sparing Libby prison time.

White House officials said they did not know exactly what role Cheney may have played in Bush’s decision.

GOP strategist Mary Matalin, once Cheney’s top political and public affairs assistant, suggested detractors are “score-settling or agenda-seeking.”

“As the effectiveness of Bush-bashing winds down as a `vision’ for their future, Cheney-bashing is their last breath as a substitute for principles upon which to forge an agenda to lead the country,” she said.

Things have not gone well of late for the vice president. Courts have ruled against efforts he championed to broaden presidential authority and accord special treatment to suspected terrorists.

Cheney’s position on Iran and North Korea has been tempered partly part by Bush, who recently authorized tentative diplomatic overtures to both countries. Bush also bowed to mounting bipartisan pressure and agreed to put the National Security Agency’s warrantless domestic surveillance program under the auspices of a special court.

In addition, the White House confirmed it is considering closing the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Cheney long has said the facility is needed.

On top of that, the Supreme Court has reversed its own April decision and agreed to hear challenges by Guantanamo detainees in their fall term.

Is anyone listening to Cheney any more?

The vice president shuffled alone and in silence out of a luncheon of Republican senators last week amid defections on Iraq by GOP senators and as the administration’s immigration overhaul went down to defeat.

Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, branded as “unfounded” Cheney’s claim to extra protections for his office because of his constitutional powers to preside over the Senate and break ties.

“I don’t think he handles too many documents in that capacity. He handles a gavel. That’s about all he handles,” Specter said in an interview.

Added Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah: “I don’t know what he meant by that. I think he understands what his role is.”

Still, Hatch said, Cheney continues to be valuable to the president. “Everybody knows he’s a straight shooter. I know that he and the president work very closely together. And I think there’s a good reason for it.”

Democrats have not passed many opportunities to bash Cheney. “Who died and left him boss?” asked Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del.

Cheney has seen his influence wane with rank-and-file Republicans and even conservatives, once his most ardent supporters. They are uneasy about Cheney’s signing onto Bush’s attempt to liberalize immigration law; spread democracy in the Middle East, which they deride as “nation building”; the amassing of record budget deficits; and even Cheney’s support for certain gay rights (a daughter, Mary, is openly lesbian).

“We don’t feel we’re invested in Cheney, because he hasn’t — in any way we’re aware of — carried any of our water in these 6 1/2 years,” conservative activist Richard Viguerie said.

Most of Cheney’s hard-line colleagues are gone: Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.

More moderate players now command Bush’s attention and oversee the national agenda: Robert Gates at the Pentagon, Condoleezza Rice at the State Department, Stephen Hadley as national security adviser.

Bush clearly still values Cheney’s advice and the vice president is at Bush’s side in major policy meetings.

“He must be an awfully bruised guy at this point. I think his star has set,” said Thomas E. Cronin, a political science professor at Colorado College, where Cheney’s wife, Lynne, and their daughters, Elizabeth and Mary, went to college.

“People who knew Cheney, whether they speak on or off the record, feel something changed with him. And they don’t know when. Obviously, post-Watergate reforms of Congress and weakening the executive branch have affected him. He speaks a lot about that. Haliburton probably changed him. Maybe his (four) heart attacks changed him,” Cronin said.

Cheney, 66, was chief of staff to Ford, represented Wyoming in Congress in the 1980s, was defense secretary under the first President Bush and chief executive officer of Haliburton, the oil-services company, in the 1990s.

He has a history of heart problems, including four heart attacks, quadruple bypass surgery, two artery-clearing angioplasties and an operation to implant a pacemaker-defibrillator.


  1. Steve Horn

    I believe it was in the 1990’s when it first struck me that “easy” was becoming the favorite word in American advertising. It would seem that “easy” is now the driving forces of our lives. One stop shopping at sprawlmart is “easy” – so we don’t support our local shops and turn a blind eye to the sweatshop conditions in which this cheap stuff is produced. Buying on credit is “easy” – to hell with the lives or educations of our kids, we want instant gratification – so do it the “easy” (undisciplined) way.
    In 2000 apparently “easy” migrated from consumer attitudes to voter attitudes. Looking into what candidates are really saying, what they really stand for, takes effort, but the sound bytes are “easy” to digest – it’s easier to vote for a single issue candidate than to really consider all aspects of that individual and it’s easier still to not vote at all.
    The current administration should teach America that “easy” isn’t always “good” – somethings take effort, things like helping local businesses, paying attention to the news, paying attention to candidates for office, getting out and voting.
    We pushed the “easy” button – and look at what we got – I believe that it’s time to put some effort back into OUR government.

    “the fox is in the henhouse, the cows are in the corn, the unions have been busted, their proud red banners torn” (Steve Earle “Christmas time in Washington”)

  2. gene

    (Mojibyrd) I think you just explaind who Cheney really is. I’ve been so busy fussing and cussing about him and his boss that I failed to see the point you made above. He does evil because thats what he truely prefers. How much more proof would any sane individual need to conclude this.

    Of course most Americans are not even paying attention so they (the evil ones) continue their destruction and laugh at all the clueless while giving people (like you and I and others like us)…..”The big finger in the sky”.

  3. Sandra Price

    Outside of manipulating all Americans into believing Iraq was our enemy, the most annoying thing about Cheney and Bush is their arrogance that they can free-wheel with our Consitution, our service men and women and our tax dollars and never have to explain anything.

    They work for us! They must work under the laws in the Constitution and are not above moral laws of the land.

    The American people seemed to want this kind of leadership to guide them so they didn’t have to guide themselves. We handed America to Cheney and Bush and we ended up again in a non-winnable war sacrificing our best and brightest young men and women.

    Bush and Cheney went for the gold ring and the voters gave it to them twice. Maybe America is ready to hand these people our government without any strings attached. Changing parties is not the answer. America is run through the military complex making us pro-war on a constant basis. This is what ran Rome for so many generations.

    Our future voters must recognize the value of the Constitution and how so many leaders have taken bites out of it for their own power struggle.

  4. JudyB

    My attention has been on Cheney since I heard Bush was having him as his Vice Pres. Seal, I agree with you when you say “Cheney is the most dangerous person ever to occupy the White House and administrative branch of our government.” I however hold the dolt Bush responsible for allowing him (no matter whos idea it was) to have Cheney as his Vice Pres.

    FYI…Synomyms for vice include fault, depravity, sin, iniquity, wickedness and corruption. The modern English term that best captures its original meaning is the word vicious, which means “full of vice.”

    The title of “VICE” President perfectly describes the one and only Dangerous “Dick” Cheney.

  5. The Dogfather

    The Dogfather

    I have a great idea: Bush recently got a really warm reception in Albania. Let’s impeach the draft-dodging, lying SOB and give him a one-way ticket to Albania, never permitting him to step on US soil again as long as he lives.

    Merely impeaching Cheney is not, however, enough. I move that we hire a stunningly beautiful woman, with a voracious libido, to stalk the SOB. When she’s finally worn down his resistance, let her screw the SOB until that famously feeble heart of his bursts.

    (Actually, I don’t know if I believe all of those stories about his heart disease; in order to have a diseased heart, one must have a heart, and I don’t think he has one.)

    Bush and Cheney gone! This is the greatest thing that could happen to America!

  6. empty13

    I wont miss old deadeye when he is gone.

    Also, good job Doug, on routing out yer anti-Paul crook.

  7. gene

    (Dionysis)…I would comment on this article but you said all I could ever hope to say…and you did it MUCH better.

    This guy (Cheney) makes Bush look honest.

  8. Dionysis

    It’s mind-boggling that there are still elements of the so-called ‘Republican base’ that rally around Cheney. This disgusting, anti-democratic, draft-dodging, evil-hearted creep lies with impunity, arrogantly considers himself above the law (just like Der Chimpenfuehrer), treats Congress and the American public like inconsequential half-wits, and merrily goes about subverting the Constitution.

    Mary Matalin, today’s Ilsa, She-Wolf of the RS (Republican Scum) has the temerity to claim:

    “As the effectiveness of Bush-bashing winds down as a `vision’ for their future, Cheney-bashing is their last breath as a substitute for principles upon which to forge an agenda to lead the country,” she said.”

    Evidently, to her and the other proto-fascist wackos supporting these criminals, ‘principles upon which to forge an agenda to lead the country” means full steam ahead in turning this once great, shining beacon of representative democracy into a despotic plutocracy. She and the rest of these hypocritical cretins should have their citizenship revoked for aiding and abetting treason.

    Disgraceful, the whole lot of them.

  9. gene

    Dam Bryan thats good, dam..double-dam good comment, especially the part where you said “Where in hell do they find these people to spew this vomit?”

    I think you answered your on question.
    Somehow they drag them up from hell mabe through a “worm hole” or “portal” of some kind. Just a guess but it truely is vomit!!!!

  10. bryan mcclellan

    I can’t believe the statement ,hasn’t carried any water for the conservatives in 6.5 yrs,Bull Cookies!He and his ilk have whitewashed the constitution by pissing all over it as per the money mens instructions.Nothing has changed in old Dich-der-nazi .He wants more power to fuel his maniacal ends and doesn’t care who gets in his way.Close confidant to the chimp,HA! Dich is the organ grinder and if he tells chimp to wipe his ass with fiberglass chimp knows he damn well better do it.He’s been told that oil soothes that itchy burning sensation,and thats just a banana down south georgie.Bruised my eye,star has set??Moderate players,Puleezzzzzzzzzzzze!! Where in the hell do they find these people to spew this vomit???

  11. bryan mcclellan

    May the 3500 plus, rest in peace,and the thousands of maimed and mentally wounded hear us loud and clear as we gather the strength of voice and honor their sacrifice by stopping this madness !!!!!!!! SWARM , Vets for Peace…

  12. gene

    To answer your queston Sandra..”Are we so amoral and weak that we need daily reminders that the government knows best?”……..yes we do or most of the good old USofA does. What has counted in this nation for the last several decades is “does it feel good and.. (if it does) is it happening to ME?

    Several generations taught how to become selfish, me oriented humoids that are very unwilling to work for anything good. Lie, steal, cheat, murder are some of the more common charateristics of our “new family”

  13. Sandra Price

    It’s about time the GOP started to take a look at their most “moral” White House. I remember Republican strategist Rich Galen speaking out against the Clinton Administration and the questionable background of both Hillary and Bubba. I was so impressed with this young man that I drove from Lake Havasu City to Green Valley Arizona to meet him and offer my support for his words. Having communicated with him over the years made me feel like a good old friend.

    I see now that he is a partisan Republican, not a moral one. I stopped communicating with Rich when I saw he wanted the Prohibitions to be the focus of the new Republican White House. I puzzled at why any American would look to the federal government for their social laws. Are we so amoral and weak that we need daily reminders that the government knows best? I see from the reference in this commentary that Rich cannot understand why anyone would question the Bush Administration in general and Cheney in particular.

    No one was more involved in the GOP than I was, but when they want my approval for passing Amendments to the Constitution to remove individual freedoms on top of lying and manipulating us into a fraudulent war, not even I could drink their Kool-Aid.

    Rewriting our Constitution is not a moral action and is only a power thrust over the American people. They might have been able to pull off the prohibitions had they not gone into Iraq. They screwed themselves and the religious right out of the moral laws that got them elected. The sad fact that 3500 plus American solders were sacrificed will always be part of the Republican Legacy.

    I, for one, will never let them forget what they voted for.

    I will send Rich Galen our comments on this commentary. He did not write it but he made it known how he feels about American values. Someone should remind him of what they are.

  14. long_rider

    This man should have been impeached years ago. Why is he still in office. He does not care for our America, he does not care dor our troops.

    It is the shame of all Americans that this man continues to serve in office, goes double for the chimp.

  15. SEAL

    The first lie is that Bush and Cheney are not close, they hate each other. Cheney has the same opinion of Bush that we do and only uses him for cover while he goes about his neocon agenda. Cheney is the point man.

    Bush is intimidated by Cheney but, at the same time views him as one of the lesser people because he is not from one of the privilidged class families. The Bush family sees Cheney as a tool only. Cheney has always been an outsider at the country club and wasn’t one of the immensley wealthy until recently. But, no matter how much money he amases he will never be allowed “in” the group. Bush wants as little contact with him as possible.

    The second lie is that Cheney has changed. That’s a crock. He has always had the same goal of absolute power in the hands of the White House. He was so angered by the downfall of Nixon that it caused him to be even more convinced of his mission to concentrate the power in the White House if and when he had the opportunity. His heart problems have caused him to modify his lifestyle just as my cancer has caused me to do the same. But neither of us has changed our attitudes or beliefs or missions in life. We just go about it a little differently.

    As I have stated many times before: The myopic focus on Bush and blaming him is wrong. Cheney is the most dangerous person ever to occupy the White House and administrative branch of our government. It is he, not Bush that has put this nation in the position it is in at the present time through his continuing efforts in the halls of government over the past 30+ years. GWB has only been at it for six and one-half years and had very little to do with what has occured during that period. He is nothing but a self absorbed little prick of privilidge that has been handed the chance to play president and he f**ked that up just like everything else he has ever done.

  16. Jenifer D.

    Bear in mind how old some of these despots are; does anyone honestly think their successors (hangers on) will effectively continue the legacy? I doubt it. The hangers-on are just that; hangers-on. They’re leeches. They only hang around to reap the benefits of said despots ‘good fortune’ and when the despots buy the old dirt farm; be it heart attack, brain aneuryism, suicide, or some freak accident (act of god), the milk and honey will cease to flow.

    The Egyptian Pharoahs didn’t allow their servants to continue to live after their demise (they had them buried alive with their dead master), so, why should these self-proclaimed kings be any different?

    So, rather than make the effort to regenerate the flow through the complicity of sex, lies, human medical experiments, and Constitution-trampling; these hangers-on will pillage whatever is left and crawl back under the rocks they were found under.

    When the dust finally settles, that’s when order can be restored and our Constitution will be salvaged. There’s no telling when that will happen.

  17. mojibyrd

    Cheney thrives on the negative….

    There is no other way to see it, other than that Cheney must have been a lonely abused child that now as an adult is crying out for attention and enjoys the negative results he gets much more than the positive he could do for the world, his goal is to piss off as much of the senate/congress he can and to hell with the general public that elected him and that puppet called George W….he is such a sick bastard that he would rather be spanked than hugged even if it is by one of the DC Madams hookers.

    Impeach Bush Now and to hell with Cheney too.