Stephen F. Hayes: Five Myths About Dick Cheney

Roundup: Talking About History

Stephen F. Hayes is a senior writer for the Weekly Standard and the author of “Cheney: The Untold Story of America’s Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President.”

He’s been called Darth Vader, feared or derided as a trigger-happy, torture-loving puppet master who called the shots over the eight years of the George W. Bush White House. And now, with the publication of his memoir, “In My Time,” Dick Cheney has once again grabbed the media spotlight. But what about the former vice president is real, exaggerated, or outright myth?

1. Dick Cheney ran the Bush administration.

Even before George W. Bush’s presidency started, conventional wisdom held that the real locus of power in the White House was with the vice president. A few days after the Supreme Court decided Bush v. Gore, a “Saturday Night Live” skit featured Will Ferrell as Bush, lamenting that “Dick Cheney’s going to be one tough boss.”

There’s no question that Cheney was influential — probably the most powerful vice president in history. But when Bush called himself the decider, he was correct. Cheney gave advice; Bush made decisions. Bush certainly gave Cheney major leadership roles, such as chairing the administration’s energy task force. But over the course of his presidency, Bush ran virtually every meeting the two men participated in, with Cheney usually listening in silence. Cheney offered to resign three times before the 2004 election, and Bush chose to keep him. And, barring the Iraq troop surge, Bush’s second term featured a string of defeats for Cheney on foreign policy and national security, including wiretapping, Iran, Syria, North Korea and the Mideast peace process....

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