Brian Birdnow

This week marks the debut of former Vice-President Dick Cheney’s memoir entitled In My Time. Cheney has helped pump up interest in his volume, promising that it will stir up a hornet’s nest in Washington and among the chattering classes, at large. Some commentators, most of whom have not yet read the tome, are accusing Cheney of settling old scores and answering his critics, instead of offering a substantive contribution to the historical literature of the Bush Presidency. Time will tell, but Cheney can be excused for taking a shot or two at his critics because, in truth, there was no more unfairly maligned Bush Administration official than His Honor, the Vice-President of the United States. In fact, Dick Cheney serves as a primer in the way that the modern Left, working with their allies in the mainstream media seek to destroy a perceived enemy.

In order to fully address this issue we must try to understand the subject matter, apart from media caricature. Who is Dick Cheney? Simply put, Cheney is a westerner, a Nebraska-born, Wyoming resident who served his state and his country ably in a startling number of capacities. He began serving as an aide to Donald Rumsfeld in the early days of the Nixon Administration. This led to Cheney transiting to the Nixon White House, itself, where he served as an aide. His calm efficiency and low-key style attracted favorable attention and Cheney took over as the Chief-of-Staff in the Ford White House in 1974, holding this position throughout Ford’s short Presidency and serving as his 1976 campaign manager.

Cheney briefly returned to private life after the Carter transition in 1977, but won election to Congress as a Republican from Wyoming in 1978. He easily won his re-election contests for the next ten years. A close analysis of Cheney’s voting record in Congress reveals a very solid conservative of Reaganite inclinations. Most of the pundits and commentators, however, regarded Cheney as a Center-Rightist of the Ford type, meaning that he was more conservative than not, but by no means a firebrand. Moreover, Congressman Cheney enjoyed generally favorable coverage from the Washington Press Corps.

Brian Birdnow

Brian E. Birdnow is a historian and teaches at a university in the St. Louis area.