As I was driving to the Reagan Library yesterday afternoon, listening to Hugh Hewitt while caught in traffic on the 170, I heard Hugh (or was it one of his guests?) refer to former Vice President Cheney as the left’s “favorite punching bag.” Before leaving home, I had read snippets of that good man’s speech at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and thought it one of his best, one which every American should read, particularly those critical of the previous Administration..
I began to reconsider my own past criticism of his post-Bush Administration outspokenness. It seems he was only defending himself (and that Administration) against unwarranted criticism for his successors and the MSM. While it may be unprecedented for an immediate past Vice President to criticize the incoming Administration, it is also unprecedented for a new President and his team to lay so much blame on his predecessor and his team.
So, when I heard expression, “punching bag,”on the radio, it reminded me yet again how members of the current Administration and their media and weblog cronies blamed their predecessors, particularly Cheney, for the current “mess.” And I wondered (and not for the first time) how the former Vice President bore with such equanimity the vitriol hurled regularly against him for the better part of the past eight years.
So impervious Cheney seem to political pain that Jim Geraghty contends Cheney isn’t impeded by the fear of bad press; he once “responded to a comment about his policy positions being unpopular with ‘So?’” Harsh attacks just roll right off him. They’re like bullets to Wolverine. They may hit, but they never hurt.
And then a memory came to mind of the one time I was in the same room as Cheney–only for the better part of the evening, I didn’t know it. Back in 1990, when I worked in Washington, D.C., a friend who worked for then-Vice President called me at my office one day, asking if I could join him later that week for a dinner at the Shoreham where the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (I believe it was ISI) was honoring the then-Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Lynne Cheney.
A fan of Mrs. Cheney, I agreed. Sitting way in the back, we didn’t have a clear view of the head table. As that good woman was speaking, someone nudged me and pointed out the Secretary of Defense, Mrs. Cheney’s husband, the future Vice President, sitting at that table, looking lovingly at his wife. (We had to stand up and crane our necks to see.) It struck me how he, then a member of the President’s cabinet, remained silent for that entire evening. It seemed he knew the evening was about her and didn’t want to call any attention to himself as that might deflect attention from his wife.
And perhaps, because I was driving to the Reagan Library as this memory came to mind, I wondered if Lynne Cheney served the same function for the immediate past Vice President as the former Nancy Davis served for the Gipper. Knowing he could count on her love and support, he was more confident in his convictions and better able to withstand the mean-spirited attacks directed against him.