Monday, August 10, 2009
Cheneys Legacy Question
Hey Vice-Precedence readers! Well, as you regular readers know I cover former VP Cheney on the blog here. Recently a friend of mine asked me what I personally thought of Mr. Cheney, and how I think history will see him. I thought it would make an interesting blog.
This is an interesting question as it is being asked by many and is something historians are arguing about now. I think most of us can agree that its relatively too soon to say what posterity and history will say about the Bush/Cheney administration. As former President Bush is fond of pointing out, when Harry Truman left office he had the lowest popularity ratings of practically any President. As time passed, especially in the wake of Trumans death and the scandal of Watergate, both the American people and historians began to look back at Trumans legacy and found much to admire in the tough decisions he had to make, his honesty and integrity, his "The Buck Stops Here" sense of responsibility, and how accurate he had been in his description of the disgraced Richard Nixon as a "no good lying bastard". His legacy was further enhanced by the publication of the best-selling and Pulitzer-Prize winning biography "TRUMAN" by David McCullough in 1992. Now when the polls are done of "The Best Presidents", Truman is consistently in the top ten.
Could something similar happen to President Bush and VP Cheney in 25 or 30 years? Hard to say right now. For now, President Bush is keeping to himself and not expressing his opinions on the current administrations policies. Cheney however-(as this blog has pointed out numerous times) has been one of the most vocal critics of the Obama Administration. Is this one of the strategies Mr. Cheney is employing to enhance his legacy? I think that both Bush and Cheney are distressed that the majority of Americans have, by electing Obama, rejected the policies of his time. So perhaps Cheney is using his criticisms of the Obama Administration as a way to defend his legacy.
It seems that right now he and Bush are relying on the fact that since the tragic events of 9/11 there have been no further attacks on American soil by the terrorists. Its strong evidence to many Americans that the decisions they made (and I admit-they were tough decisions) were correct. It is my belief that Mr. Cheney is going to use his (still untitled) book to try to defend the decisions he and President Bush made regarding Americas safety, as well as their other policies.
How will history judge Mr. Cheney? Hard to say. My friend asked me what I personally think of Mr. Cheney, and I have thought about it and have tried to come at it as a historian (which in a way, I am-at least of the Vice-Presidency) and separate my personal politics from his record. Its my opinion that its too early to truly come to a judgment of his record. Personally, I didn't agree with many of the decisions he and President Bush made, and I admit I'm not a great admirer of his record, but that's just my personal opinion. I do think that Mr. Cheney is an incredibly intelligent man, and that he was doing what he honestly thought was best for the country. At the same time, I do think he made some incorrect political and military decisions, and that he had some personal ambitions that he wasn't afraid to try to accomplish while in office and that these goals sometimes weren't in the best interests of the country. Overall though, I honestly think that for the most part,he did what he thought was right, and didn't worry too much about his popularity-good thing too, because there is no denying, he is one of the least popular VP's in American history.
There is one thing I am absolutely sure of that also can't be denied-Richard Cheney was the most powerful and influential VP in American history. Period. How history judges the Bush Administration will be a direct judgment on Cheney as well. Will his book help his legacy or will it not? Will history share my opinions? We will see. As soon as any new news on Mr. Cheney comes out I'll be reporting it here. Thanks for reading.