Protecting Dick Cheney

The House has just passed a bill that would give Vice President Dick Cheney and his successors up to six months of Secret Service protection after leaving office. The secretary of Homeland Security could extend it if warranted.

That’s fine both on general principle and on the basis that Cheney was a controversial figure and intensely disliked in some quarters. Whether you approved his performance or not, he did his country a service and should not be put at risk for it once back in private life.

However, we would insert one caveat: The protection should be at considerably less than the imperial levels he has enjoyed while in office. And that means no more motorcades.

The vice president’s motorcades are notorious in Washington for their size and disruption as major arteries like Massachusetts Avenue are blocked off so the vice president can roar between his home and office, a trip that a local television station calculated cost the Washington taxpayers $3,000 each way for his large police escort.

A local writer noted that it took 10 D.C. police cars, five Harleys plus the Secret Service caravan to get him to his daughter’s book signing downtown.

One reporter protested at a White House briefing after she was nearly run off the road by the vice president’s motorcade tearing through the narrow, twisty confines of Rock Creek Park. She got the brush-off but not before observing, accurately in the opinion of locals, that Cheney’s motorcades seem "so much louder and aggressive than the others."

And it’s not just here. A quick check of the Web shows complaints about his motorcade in the Twin Cities, Atlanta, Portland, Chicago, Toledo and as far away as Australia. And there’s even a small but very noisy collection of videos on YouTube.

A two-car motorcade should do it. And if extra security is called for, the former vice president could always ride shotgun.