August 30, 2011

On Public Service: Dick Cheney

Not long ago I finished watched Sean Hannity's most recent interview of Vice President Dick Cheney on the occasion of his second autobiographical book In My Time (go here for Amazon ordering information). Mr. Cheney looks quite thin, if not exactly frail, and I learned that he has had a very rough year, including a five week period in an ICU during which time he was on a ventilator and in a medically induced coma for several weeks. He lost 40 pounds and is kept alive by a mechanical heart pump. These devices, in the past, were appropriate only for keeping very sick people alive long enough to receive a heart transplant, but as Mr. Cheney said, the technology is now sufficiently advanced that he is living quite well with its assistance without the immediate need for a transplant. This is remarkable indeed for a man who suffered his first heart attack at the age of 37.

I'll not go into the specifics of the interview, the content of which is very much in line with the contents of his book. Rather, my purpose is to honor a fellow Wyomingite and American who has for more than 40 years served his country with dignity and courage, despite suffering the kinds of health problems—to say nothing of mindlessly vicious attacks by the media—that would have sidelined a lesser man.

It was refreshing indeed to see a man with such a depth of experience, an experience that served him and America very well indeed during one of its darkest chapters. It was also refreshing to see a man whose experience has served to temper and even humble him, a man who chooses his words with care, yet does not hesitate to speak directly to issues of importance. Of course, Dick Cheney earned my eternal respect when he appropriately told the execrable Democrat Patrick Leahy, on June 22, 2004, what he might do with himself, a service provided for the victims of Leahy's leaks not alive to deliver that message in person.

What also impressed is that Mr. Cheney's life is, and always has been, an open book. We know precisely who he is and how he became that man. We know of his upbringing, his high school years in Casper, WY, his college experiences, and all of the details of his public service. This is not a man who has spent millions hiding his transcripts or birth certificate.

Mr. Cheney also takes, without prevarication or evasion, responsibility for his mistakes, even when they are painful, as was his accidental shooting of a friend. Dick Cheney is not the kind of man who blames others. He has always lived in a world where action—correct action and competence—matter and where words have value only in their service to the truth. He is, clearly, a serious man, a man any American should want on their side. We are, in fact, far better off because he was on our side for so long, because he was willing to come when called when it would have been far easier and more personally profitable to do otherwise.

Ultimately, my greatest portion of respect for Mr. Cheney lies in the fact that no rational person could ever doubt his devotion to America. It is there in his eyes and in the reverent tone of his voice as he speaks of his country and the honor of serving it. He surely believes that America is the one indispensable, exceptional nation. He knows that America is mankind's last, best hope. It is impossible to imagine Dick Cheney groveling to foreign dictators, bowing before foreign dignitaries, or in any way denigrating America, domestically, or particularly, abroad. He has never had any difficulty telling the difference between our allies and our enemies, and clearly understands that the only way to deal with the latter is to make them respect and fear America. He is more than capable of calling a war a war, and has no time for moral fecklessness.

I fear that Mr. Cheney will not be with us much longer, but pray that I am wrong. Still, even now, to paraphrase Shakespeare, nature might stand up and say, "this is a man." Even more, Dick Cheney is unmistakably an American. In this fallen world, to what greater title might one aspire than "American?" Mr. Cheney's advice to the disgraceful Leahy to those who imagine otherwise would be quite fitting.

How tragic, even heartbreaking, that those who now lead us cannot hold a candle to such as Cheney, yet foolishly consider themselves his superior.

God Speed Mr. Cheney. Grateful Americans honor your service.

Posted by MikeM at August 30, 2011 10:23 PM

Indeed!! Vice President Cheney has contributed more than we know while in service to the United States.

Wyoming is an amazing state for sure. And, if one had parents who were politically active (not hard to do in a state with a pop. of less than 1/2 million), then a kid like me could learn a great deal about the issues that would directly and indirectly affect us.

Thus, I had the very great privilege of listening to discussions between my parents and candidates for office (local to federal level) from 1978 on, and helping with the various campaign events. Certain candidates over the years stand out. And among those candidates was a smart, articulate, and humble man by the name of Dick Cheney.

He served our state very very well as U.S. Congressman, and I vividly remember the day, while at college in Texas, seeing the news that he had been asked to serve as Secretary of Defense. I, and the 25 others from Wyoming attending Baylor at the time knew unequivocally that he was the best person for the job. Likewise, when the news broke that he had been asked to serve as Vice President, I couldn't have been more pleased and knew that he would serve our country and always keep the well-being of our country as his top priority.

Mr. Cheney's capabilities as a strategic thinker, respect and love for this great country, ability to cut through the bull****, and never relying upon others to do his work for him, and never shifting the blame elsewhere, and his sense of honor and duty are all traits we each would be well-served to emulate.

Posted by: Nina at August 31, 2011 07:20 AM

I made sure to email President Bush and VP Cheney before they left the White House (the form and addresses are at the WH web site for the occupants), and VP Cheney actually sent me a thank-you letter via snail mail, which I treasure. You can write him via his book publisher, if you're of a mind to thank him personally.

Posted by: Robert at August 31, 2011 07:37 AM

Hear, hear!!! I remember my respect for Dick Cheney leapt off the page watching him struggle and suppress an emotional response to that punk of a lawyer John Edwards during the VP debate. He knew full well that silk pony slimeball and John Kerry were using Cheney's lesbian daughter as a political crowbar. Cheney burned Edward's perfect hair with his eyes and then calmly replied, "Thank you for your concern for my family." I wonder if a framed photo of Edward's mug shot is hanging in Cheney's private office.

Posted by: Col Bat Guano at August 31, 2011 12:53 PM

There have been those who wondered why Bush chose Cheney as his VP. This is undoubtedly a great part of the reason:

Mr. Cheney also takes, without prevarication or evasion, responsibility for his mistakes...Dick Cheney is not the kind of man who blames others. He has always lived in a world where action—correct action and competence—matter and where words have value only in their service to the truth.

It is a sad, sorry fact that men of Cheney's caliber are becoming harder and harder to find.

Posted by: RandomThoughts at September 1, 2011 12:30 AM