Jonah Goldberg

I'm a longtime member of a pretty select group: the Dick Cheney Fan Club. Chapters gather in phone booths, refrigerator boxes and, at the annual convention, we take up three whole booths in the back of a nearby Arby's.

Why do I like Dick Cheney? Because at a time when everybody talks a big game about how they don't like people-pleasing politicians who live by the polls, Cheney is pretty much the only guy out there who walks the walk. He truly doesn't care what people think about him. I love that.

In particular, I like his stance toward the media. His view of the Fourth Estate is a bit like that of a bull elephant annoyed by varmints shnuffling around his feet: He's not bothered enough to squish 'em ... yet.

But although I like Cheney's style - particularly in contrast to his boss's - it's become clear that the Cheney method leaves a lot to be desired. He may be more popular than Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, but that's like saying, "This head cheese is tastier than carpet mold."

Moreover, Cheney's approach to government is ultimately counterproductive. That's certainly the upshot of an epic exegesis on Cheney's tenure that is unfolding like daily Pulitzer bait in the Washington Post this week. So far, the image of the VPOTUS emerging in the series is one of almost cinematic villainy. Like Cancer Man in "The X-Files," he always seems to be standing in the shadows, moving the gears of government to his own nefarious tune. According to the Post, he even intimidated former Attorney General John Ashcroft - who, we all know, smells of sulfur and eats puppies like popcorn - into abandoning his objections to harsh treatment of enemy combatants.

The vice president is famously concerned with two things: restoring the prerogatives of the executive branch, lost in the wake of the Vietnam War and Watergate, and defeating our enemies in the war on terror. Both are admirable goals. But seemingly countless sources inside the Bush administration tell the Post that Cheney has a contempt for bureaucratic and legislative consensus-building that rivals his contempt for cultivating public support through the media. As a result, he often succeeds in bulldozing policies - on enemy interrogations, etc. - all the way to the president's desk. But he's isolated when it comes time to defend these policies in Congress and the public.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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