Saturday, August 04, 2007

The book on Cheney

Currently reading "Cheney" and can't resist blogging a few interesting tidbits so far:
  • His best friend growing up in Wyoming was a guy named Fake
  • His mother's maiden name was "Dickey"
  • He was once a traveling lineman for an electric utility in Wyoming
  • His first meeting with Don Rumsfeld was a disaster, neither liked the other
  • His second meeting with Rummy was just as bad
  • He soon became Rummy's right hand man
  • All the players, on both sides, are powerful, connected and smart and play hard ball
As to the last bullet point, some manage to pull it off and look good doing it. They have charm. Cheney is the anti-charmer. His early life was very normal, not too bad, not too good. He didn't appear destined for greatness according to the book, which by the way doesn't paint a very sympathetic picture, especially the section about his Vietnam years.

There's simply no other way to spin it--Cheney displayed great hubris regarding his actions at the time. I won't put on the Kreskin hat and say he dragged out his college years and married Lynne to extend his deferments (he was rated 1-A) as the detractors have but it wouldn't be hard to make that accusation. That said, he dodged the draft legally rather than leaving the country or obtaining help from higher connected officials as did others.

By the way, here's another interesting figure from the book:
  • There were 6144 soldiers lost in Vietnam in 1966
That was smack dab in the middle of Johnson's term and before the real meat of the fighting had even begun. Matter of fact, we'd already lost several hundred military personnel there before the Gulf of Tonkin (HT Rosie) incident occurred in 1964, the anniversary of the second attack being today.

No doubt the Vietnam war was a far bigger pre-emptive war of choice started against a country that posed no direct threat to our security other than in long term hypotheticals, whereas Iraq had tried to assassinate a former president, harbored terrorists and was actively working to undermine the middle east peace process in the most geopolitically unstable region on the planet.

Here's more, including a podcast interview with author Stephen Hayes. More later.

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