Vice President Dick Cheney: A Tricky, Foxy Grandpa

By Curtiss, Richard H. | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, December 2003 | Go to article overview

Vice President Dick Cheney: A Tricky, Foxy Grandpa


Curtiss, Richard H., Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


Vice President Richard B. Cheney has a very smooth and pleasant demeanor. A survivor of three heart attacks and a friend of the senior George Bush for more than two decades, Cheney looks like a kindly grandfather. It's easy to forget that he's only five years older than President George W. Bush.

Born Jan. 30, 1941 in Lincoln, Nebraska, Cheney and his family moved 13 years later to Casper, Wyoming, where Cheney was cocaptain of his high school football team and senior class president. His high school sweetheart, Lynne, became his wife in 1964.

Cheney received a scholarship to Yale University. Unlike his current boss, however, he was forced to leave because of poor grades. Returning to Wyoming, he earned a bachelor's and a master's degree in political science. At a time when student draft deferments were easy to acquire, Cheney obtained five, thus avoiding the Vietnam War. Although well on his way to a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin, he did not complete that degree. By that time, however, the first of his two daughters had been born, so Cheney no longer had to fear induction into the military.

Lynne Cheney did earn a Ph.D., in English literature, and began working as an editor. She subsequently had a regular column in Washingtonian magazine, authored two books, and served as chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Humanities from 1986 to 1993. She currently is a senior fellow at the notorious neocon bastion the American Enterprise Institute.

Not surprisingly, the Cheneys are considered a Washington "power couple."

When he first entered the world of politics, Dick Cheney worked for Gerald Ford, who named Cheney his chief of staff upon becoming president in the mid-1970s, following the resignation of Richard M. Nixon. In 1978 Cheney was elected to Congress, where he served as Wyoming's representative until 1989. During that time he ascended to the position of House Republican whip.

Even in those days, Cheney was known as a fixer and promoter. According to Kathy Kiely of USA Today, while serving in Congress "he and some congressional colleagues had taken advantage of a cozy relationship that allowed members to float checks on the House bank when they didn't necessarily have sufficient funds to back them."

(The other blots on Cheney's record are two youthful arrests for drunken driving and a fine for fishing out of season.)

By the time of the first Gulf war, in 1991, Cheney was then-President Bush's secretary of defense, and is credited with negotiating a deal with Saudi Arabia's King Fahd allowing U.S. troops and equipment to operate out of the Kingdom. Although his colleagues Gens. Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf garnered most of the headlines, all three worked amicably together throughout that conflict.

Smart and hard-working, Cheney once described himself as a "professional politician." However, according to retired Gen. Brent Scowcroft, former national security adviser to the first President Bush, "Dick Cheney lacks one essential attribute of the trade. His ego doesn't need to be fed."

Cheney seriously considered running for the Republican presidential nomination against incumbent President Bill Clinton in 1996. But after visiting 46 states to assess his fund-raising prospects in 1995, Cheney decided he would not be able raise the money necessary for a campaign.

Following Clinton's reelection, Cheney accepted the position of chief executive officer at Dallas-based Halliburton Industries. During his tenure there, from 1995-2000, he specialized in obtaining government contracts. Prior to his stewardship, Halliburton had received $1.2 billion in contracts, according to The Guardian. Five years later, the company had won $2.3 billion in contracts.

Now, according to a May 30 BBC News "World Edition" report, Cheney is facing a lawsuit filed by Washington, DC-based Judicial Watch, accusing him of defrauding Halliburton shareholders by overstating profits, thus inflating the price of shares. …

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