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Cheney Upholds Power of the Presidency

He noted that the current President Bush won congressional resolutions for the military invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, and said that "worked reasonably well."

Cheney said the changes enacted by Congress after Watergate had a negative impact on the presidency. "I'm not sure that that justified reducing or restricting presidential power and authority or making changes in the fundamental institutional balance between the two."

In his interview, Vice President Cheney, second from right, commended President Bush for his assertiveness in the early days of his presidency. (Ray Lustig -- The Washington Post)

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Ford, who was also interviewed for "Inside the Presidency," which was produced in conjunction with The Washington Post, echoed Cheney's concern that Congress placed too many restrictions on presidential decisions during his time in office.

Former president Jimmy Carter, also interviewed for the television program, said external events, such as the Iranian hostage crisis that began in 1979 when 52 Americans were held, often hampered him as president. But he said he worries about a new imperial presidency. "I think nowadays, there's a tendency to isolate the president, to exalt the president, to make it almost unpatriotic to criticize the president," Carter said. "I think this is a trend that causes me some concern."

Carter also made clear his differences with Bush over the Iraq war. "I worship the prince of peace," he said, "not the prince of war. And to launch a war that might take 50,000 Iraqi lives and so forth, I think 1,300 American lives, unnecessarily, I believe still unnecessarily, based completely on false premises, does contradict my own standard of religious faith."

Cheney said: "America's been enormously fortunate over the years to have the kind of people that the system produces as presidents."

Asked if he was including Carter and Bill Clinton in his praise, he said, "I obviously have varying judgments on various presidents. But I think as a general proposition we get individuals who are well-intentioned, who are committed to doing what they think is in the best interest of the country."

Cheney said that 2004 was his last political campaign. "I ran eight times, and we never lost when I was on the ballot, so I don't plan to run again."

History has been cheated after Watergate, he said. "The investigations that have occurred over the years, the role of the special prosecutors and so forth have dried up a major source for history."

"I don't keep a diary," he said, adding that he also does not use e-mail. "And I don't write letters."

So where is the record?

"It's all right up here," he said, pointing to his head. "And I suppose that'll fade over the years."

Researcher Christine Parthemore contributed to this report.

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