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Aug 9th, 2009

Scheduled for Release: The Personality Profile of Dick Cheney

On Monday afternoon, August 10, I will release the results of a study of the political personality of former U.S. vice president Dick Cheney, conducted at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics in spring and summer 2009.


8/13/09 Update — Topical report

Cheney Uncloaks His Frustration With Bush

After years of praising George W. Bush as a man of resolve, former vice president Richard B. Cheney now hints at a less flattering opinion of him.
After years of praising George W. Bush as a man of resolve, former vice president Richard B. Cheney now hints at a less flattering opinion of him. (Photo credit: Washington Post — Roger L. Wollenberg / Bloomberg News)

By Barton Gellman
The Washington Post
August 13, 2009


In his first few months after leaving office, former vice president Richard B. Cheney threw himself into public combat against the “far left” agenda of the new commander in chief. More private reflections, as his memoir takes shape in slashing longhand on legal pads, have opened a second front against Cheney’s White House partner of eight years, George W. Bush.

Cheney’s disappointment with the former president surfaced recently in one of the informal conversations he is holding to discuss the book with authors, diplomats, policy experts and past colleagues. By habit, he listens more than he talks, but Cheney broke form when asked about his regrets.

“In the second term, he felt Bush was moving away from him,” said a participant in the recent gathering, describing Cheney’s reply. “He said Bush was shackled by the public reaction and the criticism he took. […] The implication was that Bush had gone soft on him, or rather Bush had hardened against Cheney’s advice. He’d showed an independence that Cheney didn’t see coming. It was clear that Cheney’s doctrine was cast-iron strength at all times — never apologize, never explain — and Bush moved toward the conciliatory.”

The two men maintain respectful ties, speaking on the telephone now and then, though aides to both said they were never quite friends. But there is a sting in Cheney’s critique, because he views concessions to public sentiment as moral weakness. After years of praising Bush as a man of resolve, Cheney now intimates that the former president turned out to be more like an ordinary politician in the end.

Cheney’s post-White House career is as singular as his vice presidency, a position he transformed into the hub of power. Drained of direct authority and cast aside by much of the public, he is no less urgently focused, friends and family members said, on shaping events.

The former vice president remains convinced of mortal dangers that few other leaders, in his view, face squarely. That fixed belief does much to explain the conduct that so many critics find baffling. He gives no weight, close associates said, to his low approval ratings, to the tradition of statesmanlike White House exits or to the grumbling of Republicans about his effect on the party brand.

John P. Hannah, Cheney’s second-term national security adviser, said the former vice president is [acknowledging] “doubts about the main channels of American policy during the last few years,” a period encompassing most of Bush’s second term. “These are not small issues,” Hannah said. “They cut to the very core of who Cheney is,” and “he really feels he has an obligation” to save the country from danger.

Cheney’s imprint on law and policy, achieved during the first term at the peak of his influence, had faded considerably by the time he and Bush left office. Bush halted the waterboarding of accused terrorists, closed secret CIA prisons, sought congressional blessing for domestic surveillance, and reached out diplomatically to Iran and North Korea, which Cheney believed to be ripe for “regime change.”


Last month, an account in Time magazine, based on close access to Bush’s personal lawyer and White House counsel, described Cheney’s desperate end-of-term efforts to change Bush’s mind about a pardon [for his former chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby]. Cheney, who has spent a professional lifetime ignoring unflattering stories, issued a quietly furious reply. In the most explicit terms, he accused Bush of abandoning “an innocent man” who had served the president with honor and then become the “victim of a severe miscarriage of justice.” Cheney now says privately that his memoir, expected to be published in spring 2011, will describe their heated arguments in full.

Despite an ailing heart and reduced mobility, the former vice president at age 68 retains a prodigious capacity for work. He rises early, reads voraciously about history and current events, and acquired a BlackBerry in modest recompense for the loss of daily intelligence briefings. […]

Cheney passes most of his days at the top of the garage at his new house in McLean, where he built an office under the dormered roof and filled it with books and binders of his vice presidential papers. He kept copies of the unclassified ones and consults the rest on visits to the National Archives. He took detailed notes in the White House, head bobbing up and down as he wrote and sometimes disappearing from the screen in videoconferences. Those notes, according to one person who has discussed them with Cheney, will form the core of his account of the Bush years.

“What impressed me was his continuing zeal,” said an associate who discussed the book with Cheney. “He hadn’t stepped back a bit from the positions he took in office to a more relaxed, Olympian view. He was still very much in the fray. He’s not going to soften anything or accommodate shifts of conscience.


Robert Barnett, who negotiated Cheney’s book contract, passed word to potential publishers that the memoir would be packed with news, and Cheney himself has said, without explanation, that “the statute of limitations has expired” on many of his secrets. “When the president made decisions that I didn’t agree with, I still supported him and didn’t go out and undercut him,” Cheney said, according to Stephen Hayes, his authorized biographer. “Now we’re talking about after we’ve left office. I have strong feelings about what happened. … And I don’t have any reason not to forthrightly express those views.”


What the former vice president assuredly will not do, according to friends and family, is break a lifetime’s reticence about his feelings. Alluding to Bush’s forthcoming memoir, Cheney told one small group recently that he had no interest “in sharing personal details,” as the former president planned to do.

“He sort of spat the word ‘personal,'” said one person in the room.


Related report on this site

Dick Cheney is Bashing George W. Bush (May 22, 2009)


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago Today — August 9, 2008

On the Campaign Trail: Day 26

One year ago today, on Saturday, August 9, 2008 — the 26th day of my campaign against U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann for the Republican nomination as House of Representatives candidate in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District and exactly one month before the September 9 primary election – I kicked off my 100-mile walking tour of the Sixth District from Freeport in the northwest to Stillwater in the southeastern corner of the district, on the Wisconsin border.

Speaking to reporters outside Charlie’s Café in Freeport at the start of a 100-mile walking tour across the 6th Congressional District. (Photo credit: Dave Schwarz / St. Cloud Times)

I set out from at Charlie’s Café in Freeport and proceeded on foot along the Lake Wobegon Trail with my four children (aged 13, 11, 9, and 2) on bicycles, reaching Albany around noon; Avon by early afternoon; and the St. Joseph trailhead before sunset.

Pam and Tim (13) packing up at the St. Joseph trailhead of the Lake Wobegon Trial at the end of our 20-mile trek from Freeport to St. Joe.

Family photo at the trailhead in St. Joseph after a 20-mile campaign swing through the Sixth District along the Lake Wobegon Trial, on the first leg of a 100-mile walking tour to meet constituents. From left to right: Pam, Tim (13), Elizabeth (9), Matt (11), Paddy (2), and Aubrey.

From the blog of St. Cloud Times political reporter Lawrence Schumacher

Blog Image
Digging for the truth in Central Minnesota

Just Like Caine Did

College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University professor Aubrey Immelman is getting his campaign to win the 6th Congressional District Republican Party nomination from U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann off to a walking start.

Immelman will begin walking the district from end-to-end at 9 a.m. Saturday with a kickoff press conference at Charlie’s Café, 155 Main St., Freeport, on the western edge of the district.

He and his four children (ages 2 to 13) will walk the Lake Wobegon Trail to St. Joseph on Saturday, according to a news release.

On Monday, he said he plans to begin walking U.S. Highway 10 from the St. Cloud area to Blaine, and ending up in Stillwater by the end of the week.

Immelman said it will give him a chance to “introduce myself to Sixth District residents, listen to their concerns and talk to local media.”

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