Book Non-Review: In My Time by Dick Cheney
A few words about Cheney’s latest, upcoming, true or not-so-true confessions, “In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir.”
No, I haven’t had access to the book, and, no I am not going to pay the already discounted price of $19.25 (or the $15.75 “pre-order price”) so that I can read it, just as I didn’t read Cheney’s earlier blockbuster and still commented on it—even before it was published.
Now, having done away with the formalities, disclaimers and niceties, this is what I pick up from those who have had access to the book and who have interviewed Dick Cheney, along with some of my thoughts.
First, for a man of few words—one reviewer calls his latest memoir “The Sphinx Speaks“—apparently there are quite a few words in a book that comprises 576 pages. But then, Liz Cheney is listed as “contributor,” so that may explain the inconsistency.
I say, a man of a few words, because I will never forget the answer Cheney gave ABC News’ Martha Raddatz during a March 2008 interview.
In those days, naturally, the Iraq war was the main topic, a war that had been raging for five years, a war that had already killed nearly 4,000 and injured more than 29,000 of our men and women in uniform, and a war that had already cost the United States roughly $600 billion.
When Raddatz asked Cheney what he thought about polls that indicated two-thirds of Americans believed that the war in Iraq was not worth fighting and that the cost in lives was not worth the gains, Cheney disdainfully responded with one single word: “So?”
In all fairness to Cheney, when pressed by the reporter whether he cared about the opinion of the American people, instead of bristling at the suggestion, Dick Cheney tried to emend his response by saying “I think you can not be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls.” You know, those pesky polls that merely reflect the will of the people.
I have never forgotten his one-word answer, because, in my opinion, it revealed more of Cheney’s character and personality than any of his many grandiose, full-of-gravitas pronouncements.
That one little word — “So?” — reflected how little regard Mr. Cheney had for the opinions of those who did not share his bellicose ideology.
Cheney has not expanded his vocabulary by much since those days.
For example, take a look at some of the unapologetic answers Cheney gives NBC’s Jamie Gangel in an exclusive interview that will air next week.
When asked whether we should still be using enhanced interrogation, Cheney answers “Yes.”
When Gangel asks, “No regrets?” Cheney has a very creative answer: “No regrets.”
When asked whether torture should still be a tool, Cheney opens up a little bit and answers “Yes.”
To be frank, Cheney does expound a little on this subject during the interview. He also says, “I would strongly support using it again if circumstances arose where we had a high value detainee . That’s the only way to get them to talk.”
On a different subject, when Gangel asks whether President Bush may feel betrayed that Cheney reveals private conversations in his book, Cheney says, “I don’t know why he should.”
When pressed by Gangel, he says “No.”
When Gangel reminds Cheney that he has always said that he believes the president deserves to be able to trust the people around him, Cheney uses a different tack, too—he says, “Yes.”
When Gangel tries a different approach and asks, “By revealing these differences, you don’t think you’re betraying that trust?” Cheney similarly changes course and answers: “No.”
For more equally comprehensive and informative comments by the Vice President, please read here.
Hopefully—for those who are interested— the Vice President will expand on all this in his memoir.
Gangel forewarns us: “Don’t expect any apologies. He knows [his] book is going to drive his critics crazy. He even said to me, heads are going to be exploding all over Washington.”
My head is safe since I won ‘t be reading it.
But for those still interested, here are some more comments by those whose heads haven’t exploded yet, such as at the New York Times:
Cheney urged President George W. Bush to bomb a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor site in June 2007. But, he wrote, Mr. Bush opted for a diplomatic approach after other advisers — still stinging over “the bad intelligence we had received about Iraq’s stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction” — expressed misgivings.
“I again made the case for U.S. military action against the reactor,” Mr. Cheney wrote about a meeting on the issue. “But I was a lone voice. After I finished, the president asked, ‘Does anyone here agree with the vice president?’ Not a single hand went up around the room.”
According to the Times, Cheney has harsh words for CIA Director George J. Tenet’s resignation in 2004, just “when the going got tough”; for Colin Powell, calling him someone who tried to undermine President Bush by privately expressing doubts about the Iraq war and calling Powell’s resignation as ” for the best;” for Condoleezza Rice, calling her efforts to forge nuclear agreement with North Korea naïve.
Cheney also sees no need to apologize for the infamous “16 words” claim about Iraq’s supposed hunt for uranium in Niger.
Finally, according to what “only the DRUDGE REPORT can reveal“:
This is not an apology tour. It’s the book of a proud conservative. He’s not looking to kiss and make up with the NEW YORK TIMES set, or for that matter, some of his former Bush administration colleagues,’ declares a source close to Cheney.
• Cheney excoriates Colin Powell for standing by silently, knowing that his deputy Richard Armitage was responsible for leaking Valerie Plame’s identity to the press
• Says that it’s not Guantanamo Bay that hurts America’s image abroad but rather critics like Barack Obama who ‘peddle falsehoods about it.’
• Unrepentant on Iraq. Even in hindsight, Cheney asserts it was the right decision, even taking into account mistakes on intelligence. Says those Democrats, like John Kerry, who supported the war and then flipped for political expedience and accused the president of ‘peddling untruths’ are guilty of just that themselves.
One thing we can say about Mr. Cheney, he may be a man of very few words, but those few words are certainly consistent, and consistently wrong.