A worshipful portrait of Dick Cheney.
Cheney, famously, does not talk, except to those of whom he has approved, and then not much. Here he rounds up a few words for neocon Weekly Standard senior writer Hayes, who loudly defended the veep’s dodgy answers to uncomfortable questions regarding Iraq and al-Qaeda. A few of those words are revealing, as are quotations pulled from other interviews, such as Cheney’s remark, “Am I the evil genius in the corner that nobody ever sees come out of his hole? It’s a nice way to operate, actually.” Hayes allows that his subject’s callow youth had its unsavory aspects, from a couple of drunk-driving arrests to years of evasion of service in Vietnam. (Of which Cheney famously said, “I had other priorities in the 60s than military service.”) Glory years in the Nixon and Ford administrations move Hayes to much praiseful eloquence, though sometimes one wants to read between the lines, as when Cheney and Rumsfeld, famously the tightest of allies, found themselves nursing separate ambitions in an episode featuring a fleeting appearance by Christine Todd Whitman. Reading further between the lines, it emerges from Hayes’s reporting that Cheney was initially reluctant to invade Iraq, then warmed to the job, stemming the hated Colin Powell’s namby-pambyism and consolidating neocon power while finding time to tell Patrick Leahy to—well, it involves the F word. As for Valerie Plame, WMDs, the Hussein-bin Laden link and all that? Hayes notes in closing, “As much as Cheney has tried to ignore the harshest of the criticism leveled at him, he concedes that the sustained attacks about the administration’s use of intelligence…have changed the way he performs his job.” In other words, he’s still not talking.
Strictly for admirers.