To hear the former Vice President tell it, on most issues of foreign policy and national security, President George W. Bush was basically a Dick Cheney spokesman
Diary of a Madman -- Self-appointed Former Vice President Dick Cheney looks on as PINO (President In Name Only) George W. Bush ....well, ponders. PHOTO: Corbis Images
"Am I the evil genius in the corner that nobody ever sees come out of his hole? It's a nice way to operate, actually." - Dick Cheney, 2004
It's often been speculated that among the reasons Richard Nixon picked Spiro Agnew to be his Vice President back in 1968 was because Agnew, who, at the time was a newly-elected, first-term Maryland Governor, was also an in-over-his-head political lightweight who would serve as Nixon's "assassination insurance." The theory was that no assassin would be foolish enough to knock off Nixon with a nincompoop the likes of Agnew waiting in the wings.
As former Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger wrote in a March, 1982 Time Magazine article: "Nixon never considered Agnew up to succeeding him. He occasionally said, only partly facetiously, that Agnew was his insurance policy against assassination."
Well, there are enough of us still here who were around at the time to recall how that turned out. Not content with just being a nincompoop, Agnew quickly created his own arsenal of political malfeasance which led to his resignation in disgrace in 1973. But in addition to having caused his own demise, Agnew's arsenal of crooked behavior, working in staccato-like tandem with Nixon's far more considerable barrage of self-inflicted wounds, resulted in the Vice President having essentially assumed the role of de facto presidential assassin. About a year after Agnew resigned, Nixon's presidency finally went down in flames.
If anything, those events should have served as a reminder -- to the likes of George H.W. Bush, who selected the stupendously underwhelming Dan Quayle as his running mate, or John McCain, who unleashed "rogue" Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin on America -- of the fact that both assassins and assassinations can take on many forms.
Obviously, for either of those two, it failed to register. And the same can be said about our most recent ex-President since, at this point, it's become clear that history, in its own, often snidely subtle manner, may have again repeated itself in the form of the absolute destruction wreaked on the Presidential legacy of George W. Bush by his clearly amoral and possibly sociopathic Vice President, Dick Cheney (who, ironically was Chief of Staff for Nixon's successor, Gerald Ford); carried out in a manner not all that dissimilar to that which was wrought upon the Nixon legacy by his second in command.
What is easily gleaned even from brief reviews of his just-published memoir, "In My Time," (which sounds like the title of a Mary J. Blige torch song), is that when it comes to "going rogue," Palin ain't got nothing on Dick Cheney. Considering the increase in the power of the Vice-Presidency that occurred during Cheney's time, one can only guess what kind of havoc a Vice President Palin would have inflicted on America's image and our way of life by now had McCain been elected. The possibilities seem limitless. Nonetheless, it's difficult to imagine that even someone as bat-shyte off-kilter as Palin has enough "mama grizzly" in her craw to have had as negative an impact on the future of the planet as has Dick Cheney.
The epic failure which was the presidency of George W. Bush is, of course, multi-dimensional. It's an Omni-tragic flameout that encompasses virtually every area of the lives of people not just here in America, but throughout the world. But perhaps the two most obvious (and what will likely become Bush's most enduring) failures involve the rapid demise of America's geo-political stature and prestige, and the partial meltdown of both the national and global economy. Bush has been almost universally credited for the thorough trashing of both. Cheney's book seems to indicate that at least in one of those areas, Dubya might be getting too much credit.
While the connection of the near economic collapse to Bush's political legacy is apt to say the least, the caricature of the combat-averse Bush as "War President" seems clearly misplaced. That's a bit of self-deception that lines up more appropriately with the persona of a full-blown chicken-hawk; that ultra-patriotic "warrior" who rarely has time to fight wars, but manages to find plenty of time to plan them. And of course, during the Bush era, the fundamental basis for any talk of war was always rooted in the advancement of the "Bush Doctrine."
If it's fair to include lying to the American people ; subverting the Constitution; waging pre-emptive wars; and engaging in torture , as integral components of the Bush Doctrine, it becomes much easier to conclude that doctrine to be an enunciation of American exceptionalism/imperialism which is as much the embodiment of someone as diabolical as Dick Cheney as the Powell Doctrine is of former Secretary of State Colin Powell. But it certainly doesn't seem a reflection of the true, "all hat and no cattle" persona of George W. Bush, a persona soft enough, despite all the "mission accomplished" flight-suited flights of frenzy, to have enabled Bush to convincingly run for President as a "compassionate conservative." But in all frankness, Dubya just doesn't come across as having the smarts required of the truly diabolical. Easily swayed? Quite likely. Diabolically sinister? Doubtful.
Indeed from the earliest indications of the possibility of a Bush presidency, it seemed clear who, in a George W. Bush administration, would be pulling major strings.