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Dick Cheney biographer Stephen Hayes on his thirty hours of interviews with the Vice President

Thursday, August 2, 2007

HH: Joined now by Stephen Hayes in studio. Steve’s going to come back next hour and spend the entire hour with me talking about his brand new book, Cheney: The Untold Story of America’s Most Powerful And Controversial Vice President. This is kind of a teaser, Stephen, so thanks for coming in early.

SH: Happy to do it.

HH: Now I want people to understand how much time you spent with the Vice President, because that is the sort of access biographers only dream of.

SH: Yeah, I’d say so. You know, I ended up spending thirty hours in one-on-one interviews, and maybe somebody else sat in on them. But they were essentially one-on-one interviews. And then I took several trips with him. I went to Iraq, we went to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Oman, did some campaign travel around the United States. So I spent a lot of time with him.

HH: This is a counterintuitive book. Not a lot of people would say oh, I’m going to write a book about Cheney. He’s a vice president to begin with, he’s not very popular if you look at the polling opinion. What motivated you?

SH: Well, I mean, when you think about Dick Cheney, you have to remember that this is a guy who served not only in U.S. government for forty years, but at the very highest levels of U.S. government for forty years. And I actually benefit from the fact that he doesn’t talk to anybody. You know, he has these stories from the Ford administration that I find absolutely extraordinary.

HH: They are, yeah.

SH: …about his time and his service in the Ford administration that nobody has ever heard before. So for me, it’s sort of an, it was an obvious subject.

HH: I was telling someone yesterday, I can’t remember who it was, that the chapter on the OED when Rumsfeld went over and took over the OED, and then Cheney shows up and they run the United States economy and they’re setting the price of a boarding house in Sioux Falls, that was just fascinating to me.

SH: Isn’t it unbelievable?

HH: And I’d forgotten completely…I graduated from high school in 1974, so I’m not really clear about who was where doing what. I knew he, mentally, that he was the chief of staff, and he’d taken Rumsfeld’s place and all that stuff, but when you get into what he had to do, and how he avoided going to the CREEP, I mean, he’s had a couple of near political disasters, all expertly told. So back to the thirty hours, do you like the guy?

SH: Yeah, I do like the guy. You know, he gets a bad rap, and to be candid, I think he deserves some of the blame for that, because he doesn’t put himself out ever. You know, he doesn’t do this kind of thing. But I think if people had the opportunity to sit down with him and sit across from him, or listen to him more in long interview formats, which is what he prefers, I think it’s hard not to like the guy. And not just me, now it’s important to say this, Lee Hamilton, you know, Democratic representative from Indiana, former Democratic representative from Indiana, I said to him what explains Dick Cheney’s Darth Vadar image? Because as you know, if you look at the body of political coverage of Dick Cheney, from the time he came to Washington until he was chosen as vice president, it’s so overwhelmingly positive, it’s almost embarrassing for the Washington Press Corps.

HH: Right.

SH: I mean, literally, you had liberal columnists like David Broder running out of superlatives.

HH: Yup.

SH: He couldn’t come up with enough things to say about Dick Cheney. And now, you have the image of Cheney as Darth Vadar. So I asked Lee Hamilton what accounts for this? And he said you know, I used to spend so much time with him, and so did everybody else, and he sat down with reporters and gave background interviews, and he just doesn’t do that anymore.

HH: Well, one of the things that surprises is that this caricature of Cheney is belied by, you mentioned Lee Hamilton, you also have a long segment on Jack Murtha, Cheney and Murtha go back a long, long time, in a long, long way. And that’s not widely known. How come they have allowed their friend to be savaged this way? And I am surprised, because when it comes through that he’s got this long list of bipartisan people, they allow him to be a punching bag for the fever swamp, and they don’t step up. Why not?

SH: Well, and Murtha himself has been incredibly critical of his old friend. I mean, I think obviously, their relationship is now strained. I don’t know, it’s a good question. I mean, maybe they’re just not asked, maybe people don’t ask, there aren’t a lot of people who are interested at this point, frankly, in taking a longer view of Dick Cheney and his career. I think you have a Washington press corps that by and large starts from the premise that Dick Cheney’s evil. And I started from the premise that Dick Cheney’s interesting. And I was open, look, you know, I was open to the idea that he was evil. I mean, if I’d talked to everybody, and I talked to, you know, hundreds and hundreds of people, and if I kept hearing well gosh, this guy’s really turned into a bad guy, I would have reported that.

HH: This is extraordinarily well reported. You met with the President in December of ’06. Did you just have the one conversation with Bush?

SH: We ended up having two, actually.

HH: About Cheney, and did he warm to that subject? Was he eager to set the record straight about Dick Cheney?

SH: I think he was. I mean, he was, you know, as I was with my time with Cheney, I found Bush to be remarkably candid in these sessions. I mean, things that I didn’t expect, the first interview, the second question I asked, I just asked sort of a general, sort of a warm-up question. What can you tell us, the American public, that we don’t know that would surprise us about Dick Cheney? And the President launched into sort of the tension in his relationship with the Vice President, because the President favored a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, and the Vice President didn’t.

HH: You write about that at length.

SH: He started talking about it, and it was really sort of raw, sensitive stuff, and I thought wow, if the President is willing to be that sort of open with me, this is going to be a good interview, and it was.

HH: He was very open today, and we don’t characterize, we don’t quote him, but I can say I was amazed at how candid he was in response to questions, objections, et cetera. And I know you just sat down with him a couple of weeks ago when the columnists went in. The same kind of approach?

SH: I thought he had the exact same kind of approach. It was fascinating for me, because we had, as you did, we started our session, it was about an hour and forty five minutes, if I’m not mistaken, we started our session totally on the record. And I’d say he started out with a statement, you know, sort of here’s where the administration is, and then he took four or five questions, and most of that was on the record. And then we got into some areas that were, you know, he didn’t want to talk about on the record, and so he took us off the record. And I thought, as it sounds like you did, that he did, it was almost a different George W. Bush in those two sections of the interview.

HH: This is my frustration, and you probably see this coming, I’ve also interviewed the Vice President. I’m a big, big fan…I worked for Lynne back when she was at NEH, and so I’ve just admired the family for a very long time. He’s so tremendously persuasive, as is the President. But they’ve got to get into these long form interviews. They’re not great orators. They’re tremendous conversationalists. But then they don’t do it.

SH: Right.

HH: It’s just, it boggles my mind how much more effective of a job the war would be if you put Dick Cheney down in front of anybody, left, right or center, and let them answer the questions. Now he says to you in this book that he’s just not called on to do it too much. Do you believe that?

SH: Well, I don’t think he’s called on to do it that much. I mean, I think the White House communications shop for a long time was wary of putting Dick Cheney out, because they had a hard time controlling him, frankly. They couldn’t, he was not always going to be on message. I mean, the thing about Dick Cheney is that he’s blunt and he’s direct and he’s straightforward, and sometimes it gets him in trouble. Now I’m a total sucker for authenticity.

HH: You and me both.

SH: So I like that.

HH: Yup.

SH: And I think people are willing to forgive somebody who’s that eager to be sort of direct and straight with you, if he occasionally makes a mistake or overstates. And I would also say that I think one of the reasons that the Washington press corps pounces on every single word Dick Cheney says is because he doesn’t say more words. He’s not out there talking all the time, so when he does talk, it’s such a rarity that they feel like they’ve got to truth squad him to death. And they’re calling him on things that, you know, it’s preposterous.

HH: Well, I thought maybe some of it was the Libby thing, and that until the Libby thing was over, he was just not going to talk, because he talked a lot more in ’04 and ’05, on the record, did the show, that sort of stuff, and then he vanished. And I thought it was all about Libby. But now he has not come back out post-Libby, and it’s very, very frustrating. I’m curious, did you spend a lot of time with Mrs. Cheney as well?

SH: Yeah, a fair amount of time with her.

– – – –

HH: Stephen Hayes, welcome, it’s good to have you here.

SH: Great to be here, Hugh.

HH: Now we talked a little bit last hour, but I’m starting over, because I’m assuming that nobody who was listening then is listening now. 30 hours with the Vice President, and many, many trips, and did you get to him? Did you get beneath the cover?

SH: Boy, you know, it would be sort of presumptuous to say that I did, but having said that, giving you that disclaimer, I think I did. I mean, I think he opened up to me in a way that certainly I haven’t seem him open up to other people. You know, whether it’s talking about the psychological effects of having his first heart attack, or whether it’s candidly assessing mistakes made in Iraq, not something the Vice President does very often, you know, I think he ended up talking quite a bit, and talking quite candidly.

HH: Now I’m going to roam all through this. It’s a wonderful book, American, and I polished it off in two long sittings. So I probably have missed something, but I got most of it, and I want to go through it in somewhat chronological order to pick up on some of the notes I made in the back of it. But before I do that, when you sit down with a guy for that much time, you begin to notice whether or not they have on days or off days. Did you just ever hear him say that’s it, I’m done, we’re not making it today, and let’s reschedule this?

SH: No, I took every minute he’d give me at any time, any place. I will say there were very…the thing that I noticed is that he’s very different in different places. So when we’re flying on Air Force Two, he’s shorter, and you don’t get in depth with him. And you know, partially the sessions on a couple of times I interviewed him on Air Force Two, it was 20 minutes and 45 minutes, or something. So the sessions are shorter, and you try and cover more. At the Vice President’s residence, we had some good interviews, we had some great interviews there about the Ford administration, a long one, it was probably almost four hours. And it was good, but it wasn’t as good as it could have been. I will say in Wyoming, totally different man. You can see it, you can watch him relax. His shoulders are relaxed…

HH: Did you fish with him?

SH: I did not fish with him. This is going to be my dying regret, did not fish with him.

HH: Yeah…well, you know, you can go back for round two, and when you do the paperback edition, try and get him to go fishing.

SH: That’s a good point. I think I will make that request now so that I can tee it up for next year.

HH: You covered the fishing, I thought, very, very well, particularly since I don’t fish. I don’t…but I asked him once if he had to give up either fishing or pheasant shooting, which one would it be, this was before the accident, and he said he’d give up fishing before he gave up shooting.

SH: No.

HH: Yes, he did. It’s what he told me.

SH: You’re kidding.

HH: No. Isn’t that amazing, given what…you chronicle how much he is into this stuff.

SH: That blows me away.

HH: Yeah, go ask him yourself.

SH: Maybe I didn’t get under the cover so much as I thought, right?

HH: It’s a…yes, you did. Now let’s go to the Woodward betrayal, because there’s a lot, there’s a subtext in this book about his understanding of media, and he understands it very well, and his dislike of it. And there’s an anecdote towards the end of the book. Woodward screwed him.

SH: Well, Cheney was not happy. He called Woodward up. Well, let me take a step back.

HH: Yeah, set it up.

SH: Let me take a step back. What happened was, Woodward was working on his third book, State Of Denial. It was then not titled. And it was going to be a more critical book than his first two, and I say in the book, I think it had to be a more critical book, because things had not gone as well. And I think Woodward’s first book was a candid and I think largely positive assessment of the war in Afghanistan, his second book was what I took to be a balanced approach, for the most part, to the lead up to and the execution of the war in Iraq, and I say balanced because he included the CIA, and so many people in the mainstream media these days pretend like the CIA never said the things that they said.

HH: Right.

SH: And the third book was more critical, and he was critical about the occupation. He approached the Vice President twice, as the Vice President tells it, and asked for interviews. And both times, the Vice President said no, I’m not going to be cooperating on this book. The President had decided not to cooperate on this book. And Woodward says that was because they knew that he had information that they hadn’t been telling the truth. So Cheney, having turned down that request twice, then gets a call from Gerald Ford, and Gerald Ford says I would like you to participate in this book that Bob Woodward is writing about the Ford administration. And Woodward has been working on this book. And Cheney, as he says to me, would do anything for Gerald Ford, so he agrees to do the interview. Once the interview takes place, they do two sessions.

HH: On the record, taped, too. That’s what I’m surprised by.

SH: On the record, taped. They do two sessions.

HH: Excuse me, not on the record. Taped, but for release only in the book, right?

SH: Well, and therein lies the issue, because Cheney says these were embargoed, which means, and this is how he did these interviews for my book. It means you’re welcome to use what’s in these interviews, but only until, you know, in this case in my book, and in Woodward’s case, the Ford book comes out. And Woodward had a different take. Woodward said look, these are on the record. He took me in a different direction, and on the record is on the record. And Cheney called up Woodward. What happened was 60 Minutes then used some of the material to promote Woodward’s book, and these quotes were in Woodward’s book, and Cheney was unhappy about it, and he called Woodward up and said hey, this is a violation of our agreement. And Woodward said on the record is on the record. And Cheney, I think, uttered a quick expletive, and hung up the phone on Woodward.

HH: You know, it’s a pretty interesting…because the Vice President is not careless in these rules. I mean, these rules are always so…the rules surrounding my meeting today, and your meeting last week, they’re always so very, very structured. You’ve got to tell them you’ve read them and all that kind of stuff.

SH: Right.

HH: They don’t mess around with that. Let me go to the Cheney academic side. This is something you develop very, very well. He is an academic.

SH: Very much so.

HH: He was going to be a PhD. He was going to be the Congressional fellow turned professor, and when his life took a turn…on two occasions, you talk about the three times, twice he chose academia over politics, and once, he chose government. Is that, do you think he’s perhaps the most cerebral guy we’ve had in or near the White House as president or vice president in, well, since Woodrow Wilson.

SH: You know, I consider Bill Clinton pretty cerebral. I mean, I don’t think he’s probably in Cheney’s class.

HH: No, I’m talking about, though, thinking about government. You quote his AEI speech where he comes in and attacks Congress. He thinks about this stuff.

SH: He spends, I think he spends a good part of his free time, when he’s not fishing or pheasant hunting, or with his grandkids, I think he’s constantly thinking about how the government works. And that is what first drew him, I think, to the study of political science. He was not an ideologue. He didn’t have a political identity until well after he’d been in Washington.

HH: You said the Ford administration is where he learned it.

SH: Yeah, I think it was in the late Nixon administration, and in particular, his work on wage and price controls, and then the Ford administration started shaping these ideas. But I was floored. I mean, we’re here at the Heritage Foundation. I came here in 1993 as an intern. And I came because basically, I was a conservative, and I knew what I believed, and I was going to change the world. And I think so many young people come to Washington with a good idea of what they believe and what they’re doing here, and Cheney came to Washington, he worked for Bill Steiger, a young representative from Wisconsin…

HH: A very flattering portrait of him, by the way.

SH: …who was a Republican. Well, boy, nobody has anything bad to say about Bill Steiger.

HH: I didn’t know that. I mean, there’s a lot in this, I thought I knew this stuff. I thought…like, I worked for Nixon for two years.

SH: Right.

HH: I thought I knew Nixon-Ford. You did some very good digging on this stuff, so well done.

SH: Well, I appreciate you saying that.

HH: But yeah, so he came here without an agenda.

SH: He came here, worked for Bill Steiger, and then his second assignment, people will find this hard to believe, I think, his second assignment during this Congressional fellowship was with Ted Kennedy.

HH: He was going to be his deputy press secretary.

SH: Deputy press secretary.

HH: (laughing)

SH: And Cheney’s telling me this, and he’s laughing because he says you know, I don’t even think Ted Kennedy knows that fact, and I said well gosh, didn’t you have, you know, philosophical or ideological objections to working for Ted Kennedy? Because I sure would. And he said no, not really.

HH: Not at the time.

SH: It was so unbelievable to me.

HH: Let me ask you the question that dominated my thinking after the meeting today. How focused is he on the war? Dick Cheney reads all these intelligence briefings, he reads them before the President gets them, so he doesn’t waste the time at the briefings. I’ve been told that, that’s in your book. Your sense of his sense of urgency, what is it?

SH: I think he woke up on September 12th and basically asked himself two questions. Where’s the next attack coming from? And what can I do to prevent it? And I think he’s basically woken up every day asking himself the same questions. And while a lot of the country, and certainly the political class has moved on and doesn’t feel that sense of urgency, it’s very clear that Dick Cheney feels that, and that it never left him. I mean, you now have people like, Zbiegniew Brzezinski writing in the Washington Post about the so-called war on terror, wondering what…I think Brzezinski, if I’m not mistaken, made the claim that the Bush administration’s war on terror has done more damage than the terrorists’ war on us, or some absurd claim. But that’s where so many people are these days, and people don’t appreciate…

HH: You cover that in the book, the loss of the sense of urgency.

– – – –

HH: We were talking during the break, though, about the trials and travails of publishing and promoting a book. Is this a hard sell, to get the attention of the media elite for this? Are they willing to talk to you about Cheney?

SH: No, I think they’ve been, I’ve been pretty happy with the reaction. I mean, we had…you know, all you want to do is get respectful reactions. I mean, and I’m critical of the mainstream media in the book, as you know. I mean, I think that they have created a caricature of Dick Cheney…

HH: Right.

SH: And one of the reasons that I was interested in doing the book was to see to what extent is that caricature true. And you know, my thinking is that it’s not terribly accurate. I mean, as with all caricatures, there are elements of it that are true, and they’re exaggerated tremendously. But I think given that, I think I’ve had a nice reception in the mainstream press.

HH: Now a couple of stories from specifically in the book. When Don Rumsfeld was sacked, that meant the end of a partnership that goes back a very long time, from the very funny first interview he had with him, to getting hired at OED, to intercepting his memos, and getting thrown out of the office by him…it’s a very compelling portrait of a friendship. Was the Vice President consulted when Rumsfeld was fired?

SH: I don’t know if consulted. I think he certainly knew, and knew that it was coming. And there had been other pushes to get Rumsfeld out, basically, I think going back as early as 2004. And each time, Cheney weighed in on behalf of his former mentor and good friend. And I think this last time, Cheney made a case, actually, the President told me this in my interview with him, he had a long talk with Cheney, Cheney made the case, and thought that Rumsfeld should be allowed to stay through the end of the term. And Bush ultimately disagreed, and obviously we saw the results of that after November 6th.

HH: You hit the reason, one of the reasons for Rumsfeld’s going is that he was opposed to the surge, that he was not a more troops guy, but that Cheney has been a more troops guy for a long time. That’s a big revelation. I don’t know if the media’s picked up on that. He was for the surge long before the surge happened.

SH: Yeah, that’s right. I mean, there are hints at it, and as you say, you’re not going to get, and I think I got Dick Cheney to say a lot of things, you’re not going to get Dick Cheney to say very often the President was wrong on this, or I disagreed with this policy. Now he did it in the case of talking about the Coalition Provisional Authority and a few others, but on the troops thing, it was basically talking to people who were in and around that debate, and you get the sense that Cheney was concerned about the insurgency very early, and was worried about the troop levels very early. But certainly, I mean when I asked the President about, I asked him the troops question, he called Dick Cheney a more troops man. And then after that, he linked it to the surge, and said that Dick Cheney was strongly in favor of surging troops into Iraq.

HH: Now was the initial reaction to the Rumsfeld light footprint in Iraq, did he resist that? Did that come up at all?

SH: I don’t have much of a sense, to be honest with you about how much he fought that.

HH: Let’s go talk about 9/11. One of the things that comes through in your book amazingly is the experience that gathered at Camp David the week afterward when you had Powell, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, and then the President show u. Those four have, what, four decades experience in this sort of thing. Dick Cheney has met everyone twice in the world’s leadership stage.

SH: Exactly.

HH: What would this country…I mean, I think we’re blessed that that happened on their watch, because they did not overreact. They did it carefully.

SH: Yeah, and you’ll remember that the President and his team were the subject of extraordinary praise from all sorts of people. I mean, there were people, frankly, like me who wanted to go faster, and wanted to move quicker, and thought that we needed to send a message by going early and going strong and let’s start this thing, and you know, frankly, growing impatient. And they waited, and they waited, and they waited, and they waited to go into Afghanistan, and I think showed some, I don’t know what the word is, caution isn’t right, but didn’t rush into what they were undertaking.

HH: And I think one of good arguments you make is that his time at the Department of Defense, and with the first Gulf War, imbued him with certain skill sets that have been very valuable for the waging of this war, even though underappreciated, and in fact, reviled. Does he regret his dead enders comment, you know, that we’re just down to the death throws of the…

SH: Yeah. When he said in 2005, he gave an interview with Larry King, and he said that he thought the insurgency was in its last throes. And I said to him when I was interviewing him, I said, you know, I’m a supporter of the war, I continued to support the war, but I heard that comment, and I follow these things pretty closely, and I heard that comment, and I thought what is he talking about? It didn’t register with me, and so I asked him about it, and I asked him just in exactly that way. And he said you know, the thing that he was thinking about was that they, he was getting reports that Zarqawi was on the run, he was sort of teeing off of the successful elections, and thought the elections, basically based on Zawahiri and Zarqawi’s own statements that growing democracy would start to crowd them out, and Cheney said he thought that that would provide more momentum than it obviously did. But when I asked him about it, he made no bones about it. He said it was obviously wrong.

HH: Oh, interesting. Now the subject of executive power and executive branch dominance in the three part system of government gets a lot of treatment in this. It’s not political science. I don’t want people to think it’s boring, because it’s not. But it’s fascinating, Cheney has been an advocate for the robust executive for a very long time.

SH: He has, and frankly, I mean, I did some studying of executive power, but I don’t know enough to get it boring, to get it that political sciency. I did a lot of reporting on what the arguments were, and why he made them. And yeah, I think one of the great misconceptions of Dick Cheney today as vice president is that his restoration of the powers of the presidency, as he sees it, or expansion of the powers of the presidency, as his critics would put it, is something new, and it’s designed to accumulate power for him. It’s totally false. Dick Cheney has been a strong proponent of executive power going back to the Ford administration. And one of the most interesting things that I came across as I was researching the book was a debate that took place, I believe it was December 9th, 1980, at the American Enterprise Institute. And the Debate featured, among others, Newt Gingrich on one side, and Dick Cheney on the other.

HH: And the Georgia Senator, and there were a couple of Democrats mixed in.

SH: Right, and a Maryland Senator as well. And there is this absolutely fascinating and heated exchange between Cheney and Gingrich, and they have totally different ideas, both strong conservatives, both Republicans, they have totally different ideas about the relative strength of the executive and the legislative branches. And Cheney says unless the 1980’s are unlike any decade we’ve ever known, we need to have the president, we need to have a president with the flexibility to commit forces quickly, and walked through the reasons that you need a strong executive. And Gingrich said basically, that is all wrong. What you need is a strong Congress. You can’t have an imperial president, even when you have a president that’s a conservative like Ronald Reagan. And they went back and forth about this, but the most fascinating aspect of that entire debate is when it took place. It was one day after Dick Cheney was elected to the leadership of House Republicans.

HH: A lot of people don’t know this. It’s told in the book. He probably would have been the Speaker had he stayed.

SH: That’s right.

– – – –

HH: Some things I didn’t know that I got through here. He was offered the secretary of the interior, turned it down.

SH: He was, back in 1983. He had served on the Interior Committee, and coming from Wyoming, had an interest in interior issues and environmental issues. It would have I think given the environmentalists fits if he had been chosen.

HH: Yeah, the other one is that he would have been Speaker of the House, probably, given that in ’94, Newt wins, but he had become number two in the leadership when he accepted the post as Secretary of Defense.

SH: In fact, Bob Michel, who was the previous House minority leader for Republicans, told me that one of the reasons that he felt comfortable in retiring was because Dick Cheney had been elevated to the number two when Trent Lott decided to run for the Senate. I think Michel preferred Cheney over Lott, and thought Dick Cheney’s here, now I can go.

HH: Extraordinary detail that tells me a lot, when he became the chief of staff after Rumsfeld left the Ford White House to become the Secretary of Defense, he downgraded himself from a Cabinet level job, and put his chair at the back of the room. I think that’s very significant for how he understood his job, and how he viewed the presidency.

SH: No question. I mean, you see these kind of things throughout the entire book, I mean, throughout his entire life. And it’s why one of the things that I like to point out is that in so many ways, Dick Cheney’s the anti-politician. I mean, who comes to Washington and gives up power? I mean, he was, Don Rumsfeld took the job as chief of staff under Gerry Ford. He was close with Ford when they were in the House together, but Rumsfeld had some stature, because he’s served in the House of Representatives. So Ford, in order to sweeten the deal, said I’ll not only make you chief of staff, I’m giving you Cabinet rank. And Rumsfeld had a car and all the accoutrements that come with the job. And when Cheney took the job, he told President Ford I would prefer not to have Cabinet rank, and I would prefer not to be at the table. I’m going to sit in the background. My job is to facilitate your discussions with Cabinet officials. And when they’re not in the room, I can perform that function. When they are in the room, I don’t need to. I can sit in the back of the room.

HH: Yeah, that’s another detail that comes through. When he is on the short list for the vice presidency, he makes them confront the DUI’s he picked up as a kid, he makes them confront his health problems, he tries, I thought pretty hard, to take himself out of the game, yet Bush kept coming back to him.

SH: He did. I mean, several times, he did come really near to taking himself out of the game. One of the other interesting things to me was that Bush actually originally approached Cheney about being his running mate in November of 1999.

HH: That was new stuff. That was new stuff, yeah.

SH: Which is, you know, it’s before the primaries. And Cheney says at that point, look, I have a commitment to Halliburton. I’m not ready to reenter public life, I don’t have any interest.

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