What Will We Do Without Cheney?

Reading the reports of yet another heart related surgery for Dick Cheney, I felt both edified and deflated. Edified to realize what marvelous medical technology we have, but deflated as the inevitable sunk in. Some day, Washington’s favorite “Darth Vader” will be gone. A guy’s heart can only go through so much trauma after all. I realized that at this moment, the Conservative movement does not have an intellect who can step forward and fill the vacuum that will be left. Someone with real policy experience who knows why he is a conservative and can articulate it in a very clear and intellectually coherent way.

Just as Republicans have begun to realize that while this year may be similar to 1994 in many respects, they do not possess a Newt Gingrich to develop intelligent and creative out of the box policy ideas in the House or Senate, so the conservative movement as a whole will face a real void in intellectual capability when we no longer have Cheney.

The huge impact Dick Cheney has had on many levels of policy in this country is hard to overestimate. I am sure I don’t even know the half of it, but what I do know tells me that he is severely “misunderestimated” today (to use a Bushism I happen to like).

Just one example is his role in appointing Aaron Friedberg as Director of Policy Planning and Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs. That long and complicated title means that Friedberg had a significant impact on foreign policy for a good part of Bush’s Presidency. This is the guy who had written a piece about China’s probable strategy vis-a-vis the USA in East Asia back in 2000 that today reads like a history of East Asian relations for the past 10 years. It is amazing to look at some of his scholarship and consider it’s prescience. As Cheney’s and Friedberg’s influence waned, the USA drifted back into a pointless, endless six party talks routine that, powered by energizer bunny like State Department bureaucrats will probably never end until the final coming of the Messiah.

Cheney is largely to credit for the “Bush tax cut” from what I hear. I have read that when Cheney came on board in 2000, he talked to Bush about tax cuts and Bush was not extremely enthusiastic at first, but let himself be talked around and eventually pushed for the biggest thing he managed to do for our economy in his entire eight years. It probably would not have happened without Cheney.

“Darth Vader” came out of retirement after the end of the Bush administration because Obama was declassifying interrogation methods but not declassifying reports that demonstrated how effective the interrogations had been. In effect, the new President was making political hay by attacking the personnel who staff our intelligence and military apparatus, and who literally put their lives on the line to protect us on a daily basis. In the wake of successive beatings in 2006, and the recent Presidential contest in 2008, conservatives appeared almost cowed. They were nowhere to be heard when it came to defending the unpopular “war on terrorism” (which, despite being badly named, is worthy of our support). Nobody wanted to take on the entire media establishment until Dick Cheney and soon, his daughter, Elizabeth stepped forward to pick up the fight. Not only did they change the “issues environment” as weak-kneed conservatives found their voice, but it changed policy. The Obama White House largely backed down and pedaled away from the logical outcome of its initial statements; prosecuting US Intelligence and Bush administration officials for doing their jobs.

These three examples are only a few of the major impacts that Dick Cheney has had. In addition to the substantive stuff, who can forget his spanking of a debate against John Edwards in 2004, where the vacuous Democratic VP candidate looked like a rather dim high schooler being lectured by a rather above average Ivy League professor about the way the World really works.

This man has been more vilified than any other in our political history (if we exclude those Americans accused of actually shooting Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy), he has been labeled “Darth Vader” and had the grace to wear the slur as a badge of honor. He was painted as the “evil mastermind” behind a “naive” Bush, and every problem faced by the entire country, up to and including thunderstorms, was laid at his feet. Through it all he remained calm, collected, and always able to clearly articulate a conservative viewpoint that made so much sense that his political opponents were often reduced to sputtered, panicked, bluster within moments of his opening his mouth. Cheney does not let this get to him and focuses on building up a conservative movement that is prepared to govern responsibly when the time comes. He does more for the country more actively than people half his age on a regular basis, and has been so influential in a low-key way for so long that he is essentially taken for granted by Republicans and Conservatives who nevertheless benefit from his shadow. Dick Cheney is one of those people we are not going to realize how much we rely on until they are no longer with us.

They say we have a new guard coming up now. I am not convinced that they are the same caliber nor have the same mettle. Sure we do have guys like Tom McClintock in the House and we have Liz Cheney (who has apparently inherited a good part of her father’s intellect and drive) working in conservative circles, but I still feel unease when I read about the former VP in the hospital. It reminds me of the mortality that stalks us all, and I start to think…

What will we do without Cheney?

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~ by Jubal Biggs on July 15, 2010.

One Response to “What Will We Do Without Cheney?”

  1. What Will We Do Without Cheney? « The Biggs Report…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

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