Tag Archives: Dick Cheney

Wyoming: stranger political climate than Texas?

CASPER, Wyo. — I love this state. It’s spacious, gorgeous and virtually uninhabited.

It’s the 10th-largest state in the union in terms of area; but it ranks No. 50 in terms of population, with about 580,000 residents scattered across 97,000 square miles.

It also has a single U.S. House of Representatives member representing it, along with two U.S. senators, Republicans John Barrasso and Mike Enzi.

And what about that member of Congress? She is Liz Cheney, who happens to be the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Here’s where the strangeness of Wyoming politics comes into play. Our friend Tom — a longtime journalist of some standing here — was showing us around Casper and he told me that Wyoming isn’t too keen on carpetbaggers, the politician who barely knows a region he or she wants to represent in government.

Why, then, did Wyoming elect Liz Cheney, who grew up in Washington, D.C., while her dad was serving in the Defense Department, Congress and as President Ford’s chief of staff before being elected VP in 2000?

Tom’s answer: “Because she has an ‘R’ next to her name and her dad happens to be the former vice president of the United States.”

I don’t have a particular problem with carpetbaggers. Indeed, my first political hero — the late Robert F. Kennedy — carried that title when he was elected to the U.S. Senate from New York in 1964. So did Hillary Rodham Clinton when she ran for RFK’s old seat in 2000 after serving eight years as first lady of the United States. Indeed, Mitt Romney — the former Massachusetts governor — is facing down the carpetbagger demon as he runs for the Senate in Utah.

I do find it cool, too, that a U.S. House member can represent the same constituency as two U.S. senators. Indeed, senators tend at times to lord it over House members that they represent entire states while their House colleagues have to settle for representing a measly House district.

Not so in Wyoming, where equality between the “upper” and “lower” congressional chambers is alive and well.

Dick Cheney … where are you?

Of all the public figures who has shown no reluctance to speak out after leaving public office, the one to whom I refer has grown strangely silent.

Former Vice President Richard B. Cheney has gone dark. At least he has remained out of my earshot.

This is the guy who was quick to lambaste President Barack Obama during Obama’s two terms in office. He once referred to Obama as the “worst president in my lifetime.”

This blog took the former veep to task for declining to follow the lead of the man for whom he worked, President George W. Bush, who has remained quiet during his post-presidential time.

But now, with all this discussion swirling around President Obama’s successor, I keep waiting for some pearls of wisdom from Vice President Cheney.

I know he is able to put forward cogent thoughts. I heard recently he spoke at a college commencement. I cannot recall whether he weighed in on some of the issues of the day.

Seriously, the man who exhibited a rhetorical hair-trigger when it involved one president would seem willing to fire away with public comments regarding another one. Isn’t that right?

Hey, I’m no fan of Vice President Cheney. I just believe he has something of value to add to the cacophony of noise that’s pouring out of the halls of power.

Kelly’s a downer; Trump is worse

Political junkies such as yours truly are writing about White House chiefs of staff lately. The trials, troubles and travails of John Kelly have elevated this post to the top of our minds.

Seriously, though, Kelly only deserves part of the blame for what ails the White House these days.

The main source of the difficulty rests with the man who sits behind the big ol’ desk in the Oval Office. Donald Trump’s the Public Culprit No. 1.

Kelly is unlikely to last much longer as chief of staff, no matter what he says about his desire to stay on the job or what the president says about his faith in the job Kelly is doing. This Rob Porter matter is threatening to swallow Gen. Kelly whole. Indeed, Kelly — a retired Marine Corps four-star general — has made a mess of the controversy surrounding Porter’s alleged spouse-beating.

The question has to center now on who would want the job after Kelly departs. Who, indeed, would subject himself to the whims and whimsy of the president?

Trump doesn’t take guidance well. He wants to be his own man. I can’t blame him for that, except that as president he needs a chief of staff who’ll tell him the truth, even when it hurts. Kelly apparently can’t do that.

Successful White House chiefs of staff — men such as James Baker III, Leon Panetta, Dick Cheney come to mind — have employed considerable political expertise to tell the presidents they served when they were making a mistake. I’m trying to imagine John Kelly delivering that kind of advice to Donald Trump. I can’t get there.

Trump operates in a constant state of chaos. He is tempestuous by nature. He relishes conflict. How can a president function successfully when his world is full of tumult and tension? He cannot. It’s that clear and simple.

So it now becomes a question of who is going to sign on to be the 45th president’s next whipping boy?

Donald Trump promised he would surround himself with “the best people.” The best of the best has to be the individual who runs the White House. Good luck finding someone to fill that bill.

Say it ain’t so, Joe

It pains me to say this, but I must reiterate what I believe remains the case to this day.

Democrats need not look to old warhorses to salvage their political fortunes, which means to me that former Vice President Joe Biden shouldn’t be a candidate for his party’s presidential nomination in 2020.

I say this despite my affection and respect for the former vice president. I’ve long admired his tenacity, his passionate patriotism and his sense of collegiality and comity. He served in the U.S. Senate for 36 years before joining the Democratic Party ticket led in 2008 by his Senate colleague, Barack H. Obama.

I believe still that Democrats need to find a newcomer to the national scene. I believe also that the nation has become afflicted with Clinton Fatigue, which means Hillary Clinton also is out of the presidential political game.

It appears to me that Democrats would do well to look for someone who is as unknown to the public as Jimmy Carter was in 1976. The nation was starved back then for a fresh face and they got one when the former Georgia governor climbed to the top of the party’s primary fight.

Vice President Biden has said publicly that he hasn’t ruled out a 2020 run. He was thought to be a possible candidate in 2016, but at the end had to stand down, given his intense grief over the death of his son Beau and his inability to commit fully to a presidential campaign.

Biden has been openly critical of Donald John Trump. Hmmm. Imagine that. So have many others. The ex-VP has spoken out strongly, much like another former veep — Dick Cheney — did during much of President Obama’s time in office.

But I don’t believe a Biden presidential campaign is going to serve the party well. Democrats would do well to find a fresh face, with fresh ideas to challenge a Republican Party that has been hijacked by a president who came into power knowing not a damn thing about how to govern the greatest nation on Earth.

Where has Dick Cheney been hiding?

Paging the former vice president of the United States, Richard Bruce Cheney!

You might recall — as I do — that Dick Cheney was a vocal, frequent and occasionally obnoxious critic of President Barack H. Obama. Yes, throughout Obama’s two terms as president, Cheney was making himself available on TV and radio talk shows to tell us how the president was endangering the nation, that he was the “worst foreign policy president” in U.S. history.

So, Obama leaves office. Donald John Trump Sr. takes over. Trump has made a mess of a lot of things.

The Russia matter? Allegations of collusion with the Russians? North Korea? Declaring that an aircraft battle group was steaming toward Korea when it actually was traveling in precisely the opposite direction, from Australia into the Indian Ocean?

Then we have the domestic stuff: Charlottesville and the president’s seeming cozying up to Nazis and Klansmen; the transgender ban in the U.S. military.

Where is Cheney? Mr. Vice President, have you nothing at all to say about the new president? You were pretty damn quick on the verbal trigger when Barack Obama was the man in charge.

It’s not that I necessarily want to hear what the former vice president has to say. It’s just that the current political debate seems so quiet without his voice.

Obama disagrees with Trump refugee ban? No kidding!

It didn’t take Barack Obama long at all to weigh in against a policy pronouncement by his presidential successor, Donald Trump.

“The President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion,” said the former president’s spokesman, Kevin Lewis.

I’m going to take another gulp of air now and say this: I wish the former president would have stayed quiet on this one … for two reasons.

First, it should surprise no one that the ex-president opposes Trump’s idiotic refugee ban targeting those coming to the United States from Muslim-majority nations. President Obama made that point abundantly clear during his two terms in office, that the United States must not discriminate against anyone because of their religion as we fight this war against international terrorism.

The second reason is that I continue to endorse the George W./George H.W. Bush view of former presidents criticizing their successors. Bush 43 was essentially quiet during the Obama presidency; Bush 41 also kept quiet during the two terms of Bill Clinton’s presidency. They both adhered to the same principle: We had our time in the arena; that time is up and the men who followed them are entitled to conduct foreign and domestic policy without being sniped at by their predecessor.

Indeed, I was critical former Vice President Dick Cheney’s continual carping about Obama’s conduct of the office.


Don’t misunderstand me. I endorse Barack Obama’s opinion of Trump’s ban on refugees. It was poorly conceived and even more poorly executed. Several state attorneys general have filed lawsuits challenging its constitutionality.

However, Barack Obama need tell us what we already know about what he thinks about a particular Trump policy.

Who decides Trump ‘needs’ briefing?


Donald J. Trump says he doesn’t need to be briefed daily on national security issues because “like, I’m a smart person.”

The president-elect also says he gets the briefings when “I need it.”

My question is this: Who determines whether Trump “needs” the briefing, the president-elect or the national security team assigned to provide the intelligence information to him?


What appears to be emerging here is an enormous responsibility for Mike Pence, the vice president-elect who happens to have actual government experience as governor of Indiana and before that as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Pence gets the briefings far more frequently than Trump, according to the president-elect. This suggests to me that Pence is preparing to the Trump administrations’ go-to guy on issues relating to national security.

Fighting the Islamic State? Dealing with geopolitical threats in Europe, Asia and Latin America?

Let Mike deal with it. The president is too busy making America great again.

And I bet you thought no vice president could wield the clout that Dick Cheney did during the George W. Bush administration.

Obama might speak out as a former POTUS? Bad idea


Barack Obama is sending some signals that he might not leave the public arena once his successor takes office.

The 44th president of the United States might keep speaking out even as the 45th president, Donald J. Trump, begins his term.

Let’s think for a moment about that.

OK. I’ve thought about it. It’s a bad notion. I hope the president rethinks his temptation to keep speaking out.

I have applauded two former presidents — George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush — for their decisions to stay away from the rough-and-tumble. Both men have declared their intention to stay out of the limelight. They both have said essentially the same thing: They had their time in the arena; it’s time to cede the spotlight to someone else.

I was particularly pleased that George W. Bush remained faithful to that pledge, particularly while former Vice President Dick Cheney kept popping off about President Obama’s foreign policy decisions. I urged Cheney to follow his former boss’s lead: Keep your trap shut, Mr. Vice President.

Follow your boss’ lead, Mr. Vice President

Barack Obama’s time is coming to an end. He will have plenty of work to occupy his time while he returns to some semblance of a private life. He’s got a presidential library to plan and develop. He can set up a foundation that continues to speak to the issues near to his heart; the state of race relations comes to mind.

Should he provide post-presidential critiques of decisions that come from the man who’ll succeed him? I hope he keeps his thoughts to himself.

As many of his predecessors have noted, we have only one president at a time. The guy who’ll sit in the Oval Office will get plenty of hits from the rest of us out here in the peanut gallery.

What about the deficit and the national debt?


Hey, wait a second! Didn’t Republicans around the country gripe their voices hoarse about the size of the federal budget deficit and the debt that President Obama was running up?

Didn’t they proclaim that the world would come crashing down around us all if we didn’t get a handle on the debt?

That was before Donald J. Trump got elected president this past week, apparently.

Now it looks as though we’re about to blow the deficit apart and run up even more debt, now that the GOP is in control of the White House and Capitol Hill.


Trump wants to enact a massive infrastructure spending bill — while cutting taxes.

Let me see if I can figure this out. You spend billions of dollars, cut revenue to pay for it and then you watch the debt pile up and, oh yes, run up annual budget deficits that under Obama’s watch had been cut by two-thirds.

As Politico reports: “’There is now a real risk that we will see an onslaught of deficit-financed goodies — tax cuts, infrastructure spending, more on defense — all in the name of stimulus, but which in reality will massively balloon the debt,’ said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.”

I guess the GOP is going to return to the refrain that came from former Vice President Dick Cheney, who once declared (in)famously that “deficits don’t matter.”

Well, they do matter, Mr. Vice President. I consider myself a deficit hawk and it troubles me that the upcoming GOP spending spree well might threaten our economic recovery.

If we determine we need to repair our roads, bridges and airports, then we ought to dig a little deeper for the money to pay for them.

And to think the Republican Party once ran on the principle of fiscal responsibility.” What the new president is proposing — and what the GOP-run Congress is likely to approve — is anything but responsible.

Condi Rice’s role on 9/11: How did she escape blame?


Americans commemorated recently the 15th year since the 9/11 attacks.

It was a life-changer for many of us. It certainly changed the way we view our place in the world, and whether we are as “safe” as we thought we were.

There’s been plenty of blame tossed around in the decade-and-a-half since that terrible day.

Lots of reputations have been soiled and sullied.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld, CIA director George Tenet all have taken their share of hits over what happened.

One person, though, skated through it. And for the life of me, I am baffled over how this happened.

We had a national security adviser on duty. Condoleezza Rice was that person. Rice’s task, as her job title declares, was to protect our nation. It was her duty to ensure that we remained alert and vigilant against any threat.

On Sept. 11, 2001, barely nine months into the Bush administration’s first term, it all fell apart.

Why didn’t Condi Rice take the hit? How did she escape the blame that was leveled at so many of her colleagues?

As near as I can discern, her national reputation remains largely intact.

The Afghan War that developed shortly after the attack is still under way. We’ve gotten out of Iraq, ending a war that President Bush started based on false information about Iraq’s non-existent role in the 9/11 attack.

Still, of all the finger-pointing — at Bush, Cheney, Rummy, Powell, Tenet and the rest — no one has laid a hand on the individual, Condi Rice, whose primary responsibility was to ensure that this kind of attack doesn’t occur.

She failed.

How is that she’s never been held accountable for that failure?