There’s an amazing article up at RollingStone.com called The Curse of Dick Cheney that details the VP’s history as he rose through the political ranks over the years to where he is today. It was originally posted back on my birthday, but I just stumbled across the link today over at Boing Boing. It’s a very compelling read and it’ll leave little doubt on why he needs to be removed from the White House this November. I’ve always said that I fear Bush’s administration more so than Bush himself and Cheney is tied with
AsshatAshcroft for the number 1 spot on my list of reasons why this administration must come to an end.
The period between August 1974 and November 1976, when Ford lost the election to Jimmy Carter, is essential to understanding George W. Bush’s disastrous misjudgments—and Dick Cheney’s role in them. In both cases, Cheney and Rumsfeld played the key role in turning opportunity into chaos. Ford, like Bush later, hadn’t been elected president. As he entered office, he was overshadowed by a secretary of state (Kissinger then, Powell later) who was considered incontestably his better. Ford was caught as flat-footed by the fall of Saigon in April 1975 as Bush was by the September 2001 attacks. A better president, with more astute advisers, might have arranged a more orderly ending to the long and divisive war. But instead of heeding the country’s desire for honesty and reconciliation, Rumsfeld and Cheney convinced Ford that the way to turn himself into a real president was to stir up crises in international relations while lurching to the right in domestic politics.
Having turned Ford into their instrument, Rumsfeld and Cheney staged a palace coup. They pushed Ford to fire Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, tell Vice President Nelson Rockefeller to look for another job and remove Henry Kissinger from his post as national security adviser. Rumsfeld was named secretary of defense, and Cheney became chief of staff to the president. The Yale dropout and draft dodger was, at the age of thirty-four, the second-most-powerful man in the White House.
As the 1976 election approached, Rumsfeld and Cheney used the immense powers they had arrogated to themselves to persuade Ford to scuttle the Salt II treaty on nuclear-arms control. The move helped Ford turn back Reagan’s challenge for the party’s nomination—but at the cost of ceding the heart of the GOP to the New Right. Then, in the presidential election, Jimmy Carter defeated Ford by 2 million votes.
In his first test-drive at the wheels of power, Cheney had played a central role in the undoing of a president. Wrote right-wing columnist Robert Novak, “White House Chief of Staff Richard Cheney . . . is blamed by Ford insiders for a succession of campaign blunders.” Those in the old elitist wing of the party thought the decision to dump Rockefeller was both stupid and wrong: “I think Ford lost the election because of it,” one of Kissinger’s former aides says now. Ford agreed, calling it “the biggest political mistake of my life.”
The one good thing about Cheney is the fact that not one Republican President who has had him on his staff has ever been elected to a second term, hence the title of the article. Reading it I’m amazed this man has managed to survive in politics for so long and I can only hope the Cheney Jinx comes through once again and helps to ensure he’s looking for a new job after the election.