Dick Cheney: Unplugged and Unashamed

Long before Dick Cheney chose Rush Limbaugh over Colin Powell as worthy of Republican emulation in a recent Face the Nation segment, he made a name for himself as a conservative of the caliber of Ronald Reagan. Throughout the course of his political career the former vice president, defense secretary, congressman, and oilman has proven to be a stalwart and a leftist's worst nightmare, for he is not only conservative but seemingly unaffected by the Left's derisive politics of shame.

As defense secretary under President George H.W. Bush, Cheney was one of the few voices that called for a continuation of Reagan's military buildup after our victory in Desert Storm and the collapse of the Soviet Union. In October 1991, the New York Times mocked Cheney's stance:

With the evaporating Soviet threat, what should the Pentagon be prepared to defend against? The worst menace anyone can conjure is another Iraq. But even Iraq is much reduced and no other [such threats] are visible.

Isn't it just like the Left to view our victories in Desert Storm and the Cold War as opportunities for disarmament? Opportunities they approached with phrases like "the rush to modernize can ... be safely slowed."

For the record, "another Iraq" did arise. And contrary to the claims of the New York Times, the second Iraq was worse than the first if only because countries like Iran and groups like al-Qaeda viewed Iraq as a battleground against the West. So that's Cheney 1, Leftists 0.

When George W. Bush picked Cheney for his running mate in 2000, liberals went apoplectic. Leftist fringe groups criticized the fact that Cheney had gone against Colin Powell while defense secretary under Bush 41. They asserted that the "very hawkish" Cheney had proposed "[fighting] a war [in defense of] corporate oil interests in the Gulf ... over the opposition of such a plan by Colin Powell."

But such criticism didn't stall the momentum Cheney brought to the ticket, so the mainstream media sought to lessen his effectiveness by warning that he was just going to spend his time criticizing Bill Clinton's weak military stances on the campaign trail. The problem for the hand-wringers in the media was that there was so much to criticize:

[Cheney made it clear] that the Clinton administration had failed in its response to terrorist acts, going back to the World Trade Center bombing, in 1993, and that there had been a pattern of weak responses: not enough response to the 1998 embassy bombings in East Africa; [and] none to the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen.

Cheney 2, Leftists 0.

By August 2000 Cheney had added reminders of Clinton's corruption to his stump speeches, which led to Democrat attempts to shame him into silence. For example, the New York Times accused him of "attacking" Clinton, but Cheney would have none of it. Instead, in Reagan-like fashion he told the paper:

We've made it clear what we want to bring to the White House. If it implies any criticism of the Clinton administration, that's their problem, not ours.

In the end, the Bush/Cheney ticket won the 2000 election. Cheney 3, Leftists 0.