Cheney, who will appear on “Meet the Press” this Sunday, didn’t care about concerns that a powerful White House chief of staff caused Watergate. When he took over as President Ford’s chief of staff in 1975, he was un-self-conscious about adapting the posture of disgraced Nixon strongman H.R. Haldeman. “Most administrations sooner or later have come back and adopted what I’ve described as the Haldeman method,” he said. “You need that in order to protect the president.”
Cheney didn’t care when, after being chosen to choose candidate George W. Bush’s running mate in 2000, critics accused him of rigging the process to select himself. When former vice president Dan Quayle stressed the job was mostly ceremonial, Cheney disagreed. “I have a different understanding with the president,” he said.
Cheney didn’t care when, on the eve of the 2004 election, some questioned the great influence he wielded in the White House — and, after four heart attacks, the state of his health. ”The president has asked me if I would serve again as his running mate,” Cheney said in 2004. ”I’ve agreed to do that.”
Cheney didn’t care that I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby was convicted of lying to a grand jury. He wanted Bush to pardon him, not just commute his sentence. “I can’t believe you’re going to leave a soldier on the battlefield,” he told Bush, according to the former president.
Cheney didn’t care about the ire of fellow conservatives who took exception when his daughter Mary, a lesbian, decided to have a child. In 2007, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Cheney about Mary. “Frankly, I think you’re out of line with that question,” Cheney said. When Blitzer said the question was fair, Cheney said: “I fundamentally disagree.”
Cheney didn’t care about public opinion in 2008 when, on “Good Morning America,” he responded to the fact that two-thirds of Americans thought the Iraq War wasn’t worth fighting. “So?” Cheney asked. “You cannot be blown off-course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls.”
Seven years out of office, Cheney didn’t care when confronted with a Wall Street Journal opinion poll that said 71 percent of Americans disapproved of the Iraq War — and that the Islamic State’s rise has been linked to Bush’s administration’s alleged mismanagement of Iraq. “Obama’s failure to provide for a stay-behind force created the havoc we see in Iraq today,” he told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
In the end, Cheney’s quick dismissal of his critics doesn’t necessarily indicate strength of character or moral depravity. The former vice president just thinks it’s silly to engage the enemy — foreign or domestic. “If history teaches anything, it teaches that simple-minded appeasement or wishful thinking about our adversaries is folly,” he quoted Reagan in a letter to his daughter Liz in the Wall Street Journal. “It means the betrayal of our past, the squandering of our freedom.” In Dick Cheney’s mind, that is the cost of acknowledging dissent.