Who is Dick Cheney and how powerful was he during the George W Bush years?
2019 marks a decade since George W. Bush left the White House, and Vice is hitting cinemas on January 25th. The motion picture has already won awards – Christian Bale, who plays Cheney, won Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture at the Golden Globes. He also won Best Actor with The Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards. But just who exactly is Dick Cheney, Bush’s vice president at the time, and what was his contribution to the second Bush’s presidency?
Cheney originally went Yale, but dropped out. After his wife Lynne told him to get his life in order, he became a congressional intern / protege of Donald Rumsfeld.
Once Nixon left the White House, Rumsfeld became Secretary of Defense under President Ford, while Cheney became Ford’s Chief of Staff. In 1978, Cheney was elected to Congress, where he remained for 10 years. In 1987, he was elected chairman of the House Republican Conference and served briefly as a House Minority Whip from 1988.
George W Bush made Cheney his running mate during the 2000 presidential election campaign, and Cheney subsequently became vice president. After 9/11, Cheney made numerous public statements arguing Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. He is said to have pushed Bush to advocate his theory that the former Iraqi dictator had links to al-Qaeda, despite a classified President’s Daily Brief on September 21st 2001 suggesting the opposite. By doing so, the former vice president helped change the foreign policy direction of the Bush administration.
Under George W Bush, Cheney was central in restoring the powers of the presidency and exercised considerable influence in matters other than the Iraq War. Cheney was influential in passing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Presidential Records Act, and the War Powers Resolution after 9/11. He described them as a restoration of the presidency.
Cheney’s time as vice president is now a major film. He had an extraordinary career prior to becoming vice president. After 9/11, he was instrumental in the Bush administration’s response and the War on Terror, and many believe that, for 8 years, he actually pulled the strings and was behind all the major decisions, foreign and domestic, Bush made. Admired by the right, and deplored by the left, Cheney is a polarizing figure who helped shape America’s worldview today.