The Dick Cheney Jinx.

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.

38 thoughts on “The Dick Cheney Jinx.

  1. I gotta chalk Cheney’s position up to the poor state of critical thought in this country, and that makes me despair for the outcome of the next election. His recent claim that a Kerry victory will mean more terrorist attacks is a fallacious appeal to fear at best, but supporters of the Shrub/Halliburton ticket are just lapping it up, as usual.

    did

  2. Sorry, the article lost me with, “Ford, like Bush later, hadn’t been elected president.” 

    Did, Cheney’s remarks were (if you read them in context) that when another attack comes, the reaction of a Kerry administration would be the wrong one (treating it as an isolated crime vs part of an ongoing war), not specifically that it’s more likely to happen under a Kerry presidency.

    That all said, Cheney’s never struck me as a particularly good politician or statesman. I certainly wouldn’t have minded seeing him dumped retired this round, esp. since it could have lined up a viable GOP candidate for 2008 (which is currently lacking in their stable, from what I can see).

  3. With statements like:

    “It’s absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on Nov. 2, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we’ll get hit again and we’ll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States.”

    We can only hope that he fades into the sunset.

  4. Did, Cheney’s remarks were (if you read them in context) that when another attack comes, the reaction of a Kerry administration would be the wrong one (treating it as an isolated crime vs part of an ongoing war), not specifically that it’s more likely to happen under a Kerry presidency.

    Now, I’d have to agree with ‘did’s’ original assertion on this one.  Cheney was addressing a Republican support group and told them that “we” need to make the ‘right’ choice in November.  He went on to say…

    “If we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we’ll get hit again—that we’ll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States,” Cheney said.

    That’s the context and that pretty much makes Cheney a fear mongering asshole in my book.

  5. The full (or fuller) quote is:

    We made decisions at the end of World War II, at the beginning of the Cold War, when we set up the Department of Defense, and the CIA, and we created the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and undertook a bunch of major policy steps that then were in place for the next 40 years, that were key to our ultimate success in the Cold War, that were supported by Democrat and Republican alike — Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower and Jack Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon and Gerry Ford and a whole bunch of Presidents, from both parties, supported those policies over a long period of time. We’re now at that point where we’re making that kind of decision for the next 30 or 40 years, and it’s absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2nd, we make the right choice. Because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we’ll get hit again, that we’ll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States, and that we’ll fall back into the pre-9/11 mind set if you will, that in fact these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts, and that we’re not really at war. I think that would be a terrible mistake for us.

    The context is a long-term geopolitical direction, treating the conflict with Islamicist militants as a war (thus allowing for counterstrikes and preemption), not a law enforcement (catch and try’em after they do their thing) action.

    One can certainly debate over both the strategy and over the characterization of what the Kerry-Edwards administration would do (and good luck pinning that down), but I see it as a far cry from “Elect Kerry and the terrorists will blow up your children!” statement it sounds like with just that shorter snippet.

  6. Here’s the fundamental flaw I see with Cheney’s logic.  Over the past 100 years the United States has entered into a myriad of military conflicts for numerous reasons.  The United States has also suffered attacks at home and abroad over the course of the time period.  Based on his stance during the Bush Sr. administration and the purported draw-down of intelligence resources directed at former cold-war interests I would surmise that Cheney is being arrogant and hypocritical at best and fool-hearty and fear mongering at worst.  Either way, he’s not a man that belongs any where near a war on terrorism in the future.

  7. ***Dave, it still sounds like he is saying that if we elect the wrong people into the White House, we are going to get hit by a terrorist attack.

    He talks about the policies of the last 40 years and talks about creating new policies that may be in place for the next 40 years, then switches to this if we don’t elect the right people thing, saying that we will be “hit” and will fall back into a pre-9/11 mindset.

    Are we saying that Cheney has an equal ability to speak as Bush does? Because, from what I am getting from all that, it still sounds like a threat that if we don’t elect them, we will be attacked.

  8. From Cheney’s speech:

    We’re now at that point where we’re making that kind of decision for the next 30 or 40 years, and it’s absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2nd, we make the right choice.

    If Cheney had left the upcoming election out of his appeal to act responsibly you could possibly say it wasn’t a partisan ploy to play on the fears of a nation. We know the Bush Administration’s opinions of the Democrats when it comes to national security. We know that Cheney is saying once again that Bush=strongest on terrorism. If Cheney suggests a right decision, then by inference he’s also suggesting a wrong one and that, by default, would have to be voting for Kerry.

    Cheney knows how to tug at patriotic heart strings and he knows when to present fantastic imagery (like a mushroom cloud for instance) and hyperbole even if he’s the furthest thing from a patriot, statesman or hero himself.

  9. If Cheney had left the upcoming election out of his appeal to act responsibly you could possibly say it wasn’t a partisan ploy to play on the fears of a nation. We know the Bush Administration’s opinions of the Democrats when it comes to national security. We know that Cheney is saying once again that Bush=strongest on terrorism. If Cheney suggests a right decision, then by inference he’s also suggesting a wrong one and that, by default, would have to be voting for Kerry.

    Um … that kind of sounds like a speech any politician would make.  Like, say John Edwards:

    A president must do more than shrug his shoulders when confronted with these dangers. With John Kerry in the White House, we will have a policy that is both strong and smart. We will lead our allies more effectively, using every tool in our arsenal. And preventing nuclear terrorism will be our highest priority. This is what we will do. This is what they can’t do. And that is a difference.

    Or, say, John Kerry

    In his most pointed attempt yet to distinguish his stand on the war from President Bush’s, Sen. John Kerry said Wednesday that “extremism has gained momentum” and the world is more dangerous because of the Bush administration’s bungling in Iraq.

    Distinguishing between the course of Our Administration vs Their Administration is basic for presidential candidates, as are appeals to frothy ideals or shadowy fears.

    In the case of the Cheney quote, I maintain that what’s being said is that the danger is the US policy framework responding to terrorism under a Kerry administration is likely to be less effective than that under a Bush administration, using the Cold War as an example.  That is, indeed, partisan, but it doesn’t make it per se fear mongering.  Unless any mention of the possiblility of terrorism is, in fact, an appeal to fear (in which case I suggest that both candidates and their veeps are guilty).

    (I find it amusing that if Cheney mentions the possibility of a terrorist attack happening if Kerry is elected then he’s using fear tactics to get people to vote for Bush, and if he mentions the possiblity of a terrorist attack happening in a Bush administration then he’s playing CYA for his boss.)

  10. Hello All,
    I don’t agree with or like a lot of the things that the Bush/Cheney administration has done over the last three years, but most importantly for me they have demonstrated visible, constant leadership in a time of war.
    As a USMC veteran and a father of four, the security of our county far overweighs any domestic issue right now.
    We have to win this war so that we have the ability to be able to focus on domestic issues.
    With what the USA is facing today from the radical Islamic’s my opinion is that a John Kerry/John Edwards administration would be the wrong move for our country.
    We need a strong, proven leader today.
    Neither Kerry nor Edwards have any practical experience as a “Leader.

  11. So let me see if I understand this correctly. You want someone in office that will charge into Iran to “preemptivly” eliminate the threat of a nuclear attack, then maybe North Korea for the same reason, then maybe Chechnya because we all know what scum they are…

    I think I would rather have a leader that made sure that there is indeed a threat before stomping all over the world and pissing off our foreign allies.

  12. At least Kerry actually went to Vietnam as opposed to out illustrious leader and his multiple deferral using VP. Considering how disastrously Bush has managed the ‘war on terra’ so far I’m not sure his “constant, visible leadership” counts for a whole helluva lot. At this point I think Bozo the Clown could do a better job of running this country than the bozos currently in power.

    No, the only mistake I could make this election would be to vote for the incompetent incumbents.

  13. Rob, thanks for the civil tone and willingness to speak your opinion.

    While you make a valid point when you say it takes experience to run this country, you’re forgetting that George Bush had none when he took office. As most presidents do, he relies (or he could have if he had picked the right members) on a knowledgeable and capable cabinet.

    Too, just because you gave your time to the Marine Corps, it apparently didn’t teach you to know who your true enemies are. Going to war to possess another nation’s oil is hardly the better way to calm down those “radical Islamics” and it always makes me especially sad to hear someone who’s in, or has been in service, defend an administration that has so little regard for the soldiers.

    There are no purely domestic issues any longer. We are a part of the world and the world’s concerns are ours.

    But I do see better how the Bush administration’s fear tactics are working. They’ve apparently got you believing you need them, and only them, in order to be safe.

  14. Too, has anyone noticed how it’s only important to America to keep a running total of Americans killed in Iraq and not of how many Iraqis have lost their lives due directly or indirectly to our occupation of Iraq?

    It’s just more of that “The Greatest Nation” bullshit and shows how little we really care for the rest of the world.

  15. I’ve noticed something about people who are for Bush/Cheney vrs Kerry/Edwards. The folks that have Bush/Cheney stickers on their cars seem to have Lexus’, Infinity’s, Cadillacs, where the Kerry/Edwards stickers are on Toyota Corolla’s, Escorts, etc… Hmmm, I wonder if there is something to that. Must be a coincidence.

  16. Allies…
    We have had some like Great Britain and Poland for example that understand the danger and have helped the USA.
    Conversely, we have had others like France, Germany and Russia that favored their own financial stakes in the oil concerns of Iraq rather than the safety of the world.
    Kind of ironic now in the case of Russia. This month a bombing, planes bought down and hundreds of kids killed. Now President Putin is promising the same pre-emptive stance as President Bush.
    I have been very disappointed in our “allies.

  17. Rob, have you noticed that Britain has backed away from that support in recent months?

    Pre-emptive strikes are really nothing different than terrorism. Espcially with poor intelligence.

  18. I am not American so I usualy just read people’s comments on the American elections. But I’ll say this…
    -America is safer with the republicans or Bush?….Where’s the proof of that!

    -The war on terror?…America is attacking countries that have not attacked America.

    If you think about it, since Bush is president, his administration has done nothing to repair the image or the feeling around the world that Americans have become the bad guys.

    I love the U.S.A and it’s people but I do not understand why half of the people of America are behind (BUSH, CHENEY and others)A group of businessman who seem to care more about the monetary aspect and the visual prestige of being in POWER.

    These politicians are brigning the world back into global religious conflict.

    I am just going to read now.

  19. This Kerry/Bush debate really tires me out. Know why? Because it’s too late. I’d bet my life savings on Bush winning in November. I don’t support him, but then even if I was American, I wouldn’t vote for Kerry. There’s something very wrong when the only vote with any power is against an incumbent rather than for a candidate.

    Anyway, just so it’s noted and recorded, I think Bush will win in November, and then the economy will collapse sometime between then and 2008. At that point, a candidate (probably Democrat, but they’re legendary in terms of fucking things up) will emerge to lead America and the world through financial crisis.

    But nothing, really, will change.

    By the way, while I’m here doing predictions, I’ll take a wager from anyone that Barack Obama will be president within the next twelve years.

    Argue if you want to, but remember I said this.

  20. Rob, I think if you argue that France, Germany and Russia wanted to protect their oil interests by not attacking Iraq you need to be willing to imagine that America protected it’s oil interests by invading. But I fear you think Iraq was occupied primarily to depose a brutal dictator.

    Attacking Iraq created the very thing BushCo lied about in order to justify it. You want to speak of Islamics hating us, now they have more reason to.

    I realize you get the pro-America spin automatically in the service but now that you’re out, couldn’t you try seeing the larger picture? Greedy men do horrible things in this world and the more you applaud them the more you encourage their heavy-handed tactics. We’re not the blameless, innocent, wrongly attacked nation you seem to think we are. Wake up and smell the napalm Mark 77 firebombs!

  21. Unfortunately, whoever when Kerry wins, we’re in for a rocky road of repairing the damage that has been done by this administration through its economic irresponsibility, civil rights violations, and mangled foreign policy.  I find it oddly amusing how Colin Powell is getting very little camera time.

    I find it incredulous that Bush can still stand up and say that he’s for so many things while the opposite is happening.

    Bush is for smaller government yet the government is drastically larger than ever and has more than doubled in some areas.

    Bush is for a balanced budget, yet we have a record deficit.

    Bush is against abortion, yet abortion rates went down under Clinton (practice safe sex) and have gone up under Bush (just abstain).

    Bush is pro military, but he squashed the bill that would have given the guard and reservists health-care and rolled back a portion of the pay raise initially awarded.

    Hell, if Bush would stand up and say “I’m against cat owners!”, Les would probably get a government check in the mail. 

    President Bush is all about slight of mouth.

  22. Rob, you said:

    > Conversely, we have had others like France,
    > Germany and Russia that favored their own
    > financial stakes in the oil concerns of Iraq
    > rather than the safety of the world.

    Rob, do you realize that we (Germany) have throusands of troops (of our barely our 200.000 active forces) in Afghanistan? Did Afghanistan play any role in an attack on Germany? No.

    But we are still there. We do pull our weight. So don’t go cursing us out because we didn’t jump on your Iraq thing. We are very happy about that choice – and there is still broad support for our troops remaining in Afghanistan.

  23. Rob, that’s very interesting about German troops and Afghanistan.  None of my friends here knew that.

    James, an “Islamist” is someone who supports an Islamic theocracy.  As distinct from a “Muslim” who is a follower of Islam.  Generally we might think of the first as an avowed enemy of the US and the second as a person of a certain religion who may or may not be anti-American. 

    None of the Muslims I personally know are anti-American, though some of them are pretty disgusted with US foreign policy.

  24. I was mostly using the term as Rob seemed to have used it to suggest a religious affiliation. Islamics are followers of Islam as Christians are followers of Christianity. Right?

    Rob’s use of the term “radical

  25. DOF: Rob, that’s very interesting about German troops and Afghanistan.  None of my friends here knew that.

    Did you mean Ingolfson?

    Somebody still living in Germany might be better qualified to comment, but Chancellor Schroeder staked his political survival on sending combat troops to Afghanistan. Doing so required a change in the German constitution, which now allows Germany to use military force outside of NATO territory – provided there is an unequivocal international mandate.

    For reasons I’m not privy to, Germany decided to give Iraq a miss. I don’t believe that any of the UN resolutions that got passed would have allowed Germany to participate; there is a good chance that even the passive support like allowing the US use of German air space and bases on German soil blatantly violated the German constitution.

    For whatever reasons, the Americans had some of their air raids cross over cities they bombed in WWII. Perhaps a coincidence, perhaps a message.

    To make a long story short, there is an awful lot that never makes the US papers.

  26. Did you mean Ingolfson?

    Yep.  That’s how well my head’s been working lately.

    Anyway, I mentioned Germany’s contribution to Afghanistan to some friends and they’d never heard of it.  So a lot of stuff doesn’t get in the news.

    It’s pretty gutsy for the Bush camp to claim that our allies who didn’t jump into Iraq were doing so because of economic interests, then cry “foul” when accused of jumping into Iraq for economic interests (oil).  Sauce for the goose…

  27. Actually, on a bit of a side note all the major NATO countries that refused to send troops to Iraq have forces currently in Afghanistan, this even includes France.  I think the reason that more countries didn’t join in on Iraq was because the US was unwilling to wait to receive UN sanction before going to war.  Most other NATO countries seem to have a bit more respect for due process (in terms of the UN at least) than the United States does.  Also, it strikes me that many countries couldn’t afford to send troops into Iraq even if they wanted to because they had to increase their presence in Afghanistan because the US pulled out their troops.  That’s just how it seems to me though, and I’m not a military analyst so I don’t really know….

  28. Brock: no, Muslims are followers of Islam as Christians are followers of Christianity, is what I was trying to say.

    As far as I know, there is no noun in English “Islamic” (merely the obvious adjective), though I was surprised to discover that “Islamist” is a real word (and, according to my dictionary, equivalent to “Muslim”)

    But, sorry, I didn’t mean to turn this into a debate on the nature of language. As you were, citizens. I’ll be watching from over -> there.

  29. All this arguing about oil and the ecomomics of war… Yesterday I read another article listing all the instances in which George W. Bush has intimated that God wanted him to be president.  Then, I watched the 60 minutes report last night on General Boykin and how he likes to turn all military operations into holy crusades.  This morning, I picked up a book I’ve been reading and found the logical explanation for GWB’s war on Iraq.  It’s not about oil—It’s a holy war!  It may seem that this war is secular and economically motivated, but it IS basically religious (on both sides).  It is about affirming one’s power over life and death.  Citing J.Huizinga in Homo Ludens (1955), Ernest Becker points out that “war was a test of the will of the gods, to see if they favored you; it forced a revelation of destiny and so it was a holy cause and a sacred duty, a kind of divination.  Whatever the outcome was, it was a decision of holy validity—the highest kind of judgement man can get—and it was in his hands to be able to force it:  all he had to do was stage a war.”  Becker goes on to say that it is as if the divine king [or divinely appointed president] said to God, “Now show me if I’m really as special as I believe; prove to me that I am your favored son.”  Isn’t that what this war is really all about?  Becker provides a great quote from Elias Canetti that paints the picture in stark relief:  “Fortunate and favored, the survivor stands in the midst of the fallen.  For him there is one tremendous fact; while countless others have died, many of them his comrades, he is still alive.  The dead lie helpless; he stands upright amongst them, and it is as though the battle had been fought in order for him to survive it. . . . It is a feeling of being chosen from amongst the many who manifestly shared the same fate. . . . The man who achieves this often is a hero.  He is stronger.  There is more life in him.  He is favored of the Gods.” 
    The sick thing is Bush never stepped onto that battlefield.  He cannot ever properly claim the title of “hero.”  Odds are that someone else’s name is on that wall at the Vietnam Memorial because he managed to “pull some strings.”  I can’t blame him for it.  Not many of us would turn down a free pass out of harm’s way.  What really chills me is how he embraces the sacrificial lambs, (oops, I mean soldiers) that he is personally responsible for sending to their deaths, NOT TO MENTION touting 9/11 as his finest hour when it is blatantly clear (after watching NOW with Bill Moyers last week, who could deny it) that 9/11 should have and could have been prevented if our boy king had even half-heartedly done the job we elected (oops, I mean the Supreme Court appointed) him to do.  Food for thought anyway…
    As a sidenote:  anyone who wants a great, mind-blowing learning experience on what’s wrong with the world, I highly recommend reading Ernest Becker’s “Denial of Death” and quickly following it up with his “Escape from Evil.”  You’ll never see the world the same way again.  PEACE.

  30. So a lot of stuff doesn’t get in the news.

    Here’s something that was mentioned in German papers at the time. I have no idea if there’s any truth to it, but allegedly German commando troops had a chance of getting Bin Laden, but the US wanted to cherry-pick and were too late…

  31. Terrorism is old news. There have been terrorist attacks since the Roman times and from these many lessons should be learned.

    When a terrorist group strikes, one of their goal is to create a state of war in the targeted country. As soon as a politician declares a “war against terrorism” he is incompetent because such kind of war cannot be won.  He is just the reaction the terrorists are wanting. It is giving them the attention they are begging for.

    Cheney like thousands of other fascist fellows of the past is creating a state of war just for the POWER it gives him. He does not care to see that he is actually helping the terrorist by doing so. American citizens will pay for his ego lust.

    History is simply repeating itself.

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