Cheney, Dick

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Cheney, Dick

Dick Cheney (Richard Bruce Cheney) (chē´nē, chā´–), 1941–, Vice President of the United States (2001–9), b. Lincoln, Nebr. His family moved to Casper, Wyo., when he was 13, and he attended the Univ. of Wyoming (B.A., 1965; M.A., 1966) and the Univ. of Wisconsin. A conservative Republican, he served (1970–73) in various White House posts during the Nixon administration and as President Gerald Ford's deputy assistant (1974–75) and de facto chief of staff (1975–77). Elected to the House of Representatives from Wyoming in 1978 and reelected four times, he became House minority whip in 1988. Cheney remained in Congress until 1989, when President George H. W. Bush appointed him secretary of defense, a post he held until 1993. Cheney played an important role in the strategic planning of the Persian Gulf War (1991). In 1995 he became the CEO of the Dallas-based Halliburton Company.

Five years later Cheney was picked by Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush to be his vice presidential running mate, and, despite losing the popular vote, they narrowly defeated the Gore-Lieberman ticket in the electoral college. Extremely close to President Bush, Cheney brought an unusual degree of executive branch experience to the vice presidency. These factors and his status as a Republican party elder and unlikely future presidential candidate made him one of the most influential vice presidents in more recent American history, particularly in the areas of national security, the economy and taxes, and the federal budget. Cheney became an advocate of a presidency of reinvigorated, enhanced, and minimally constrained power. Within the administration, he was a prominent advocate of invading Iraq and of the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" that are considered torture under international law.

Bush and Cheney were reelected in 2004, this time winning a clear majority of the popular vote. In 2005, however, the indictment of Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, Jr., on charges of lying to and obstructing an investigation into the leaking (2003) of a CIA officer's name was an embarrassment for the administration. (Richard Armitage, a former deputy secretary of state, revealed in 2006 that he had been responsible for the leak of the CIA officer's name that had led to the investigation; he said the act had been inadvertent.) Libby's trial (2007), which ended in his conviction, revealed information about Cheney's involvement in Libby's actions in 2003 and raised questions about whether Cheney had any involvement in obstructing the investigation. After leaving the vice presidency, Cheney became an outspoken critic of the Obama administration.

In 1964 Cheney married Lynne V. Cheney, 1941–, b. Casper, Wyo., as Lynne Ann Vincent. Noted as a conservative advocate of traditional educational standards, she headed the National Endowment for the Humanities from 1986 to 1993 and was co-host (1996–8) of television's Crossfire Sunday. Since 1993 she has been a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank.

See his In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir (with his daughter L. Cheney, 2011); biography by S. F. Hayes (2007); J. Mann, Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet (2004); C. Savage, Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy (2007); B. Gellman, Angler: The Cheney Vice-Presidency (2008); P. Baker, Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House (2013); R. J. Cutler, dir., The World According to Dick Cheney (doc. film, 2013).

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