This article appears in today's (December 22, 2008) Daily News and Lupica is reflecting on Dick Cheney. There aren't many columns by Lupica written that are not about sports, but this one is worth sharing:
I'll be thrilled to see you go, Dick Cheney
Monday, December 22nd 2008, 3:33 AM
U. S. Vice President Dick Cheney is saying goodbye, not a moment too soon for his many detractors.
At least Dick Cheney, as wrong a guy as we've ever had this close to the presidency, goes out in character, thinking that he and George W. Bush were right about everything. The problem is that Cheney's character now sounds as weird and unhinged as Jack Nicholson's in "A Few Good Men."
There was Cheney on the Fox television network Sunday, always more a home to him than Yankee Stadium is to Derek Jeter, defending the last days of a dying administration and a dying Republican empire, defending Bush and Iraq and Donald Rumsfeld, defending Guantanamo and torture and surveillance and all the rest of it.
Cheney never got around to defending Scooter Libby, the felon who was once his chief of staff, but maybe that was because he ran out of time.
He did go after Joe Biden big Sunday, because Biden said during the campaign that Cheney was the most dangerous vice president the country has ever had.
"If [Biden] wants to diminish the office of vice president, that's obviously his call," Cheney said to Chris Wallace.
No, Cheney is the one who diminished that office. He goes now, and not a moment too soon. When Wallace asked him Sunday about polls showing the approval rating for this administration at 29%, Cheney shrugged and said, "Eventually you wear out your welcome in this business."
He made it sound as if that was something that happened just the other day. The truth is, Cheney wore out his welcome a long time ago the way this President did, long before the economy tanked, because of a war in Iraq that he wanted more than anybody.
But then Cheney, whose five deferments during the Vietnam War were an all-time world record for a major American politician, has always loved any war that he didn't actually have to fight himself.
Dick Cheney also had this to say about Joe Biden Sunday:
"I think that President-elect Obama will decide what he wants in a vice president. And apparently, from the way they're talking about it, he does not expect him to have as consequential a role as I've had during my time."
He sure did have a consequential role under Bush, had the kind of influence no vice president has had in many decades. It is one reason the world is a more dangerous place now than it was nearly eight years ago, no matter how much he and George W. Bush take bows for everything they've done since Sept. 11. As if it has been the two of them on that mythical wall that Nicholson kept yelling at Tom Cruise about in the movies, the one Nicholson said we desperately needed him to defend.
Yesterday Chris Wallace said to Cheney, "If the President during war decides to do something to protect the country, is it legal?"
"General proposition, I'd say yes," Cheney said.
He goes out the door as stubborn and defiant and out of touch as ever, talking about the way he defended and protected the Constitution. Talking now because soon nobody will care what he says. Saying that history will be so much kinder to him and Bush than their current critics. It can only mean Cheney believes history is dumber than Donald Rumsfeld's postoccupation strategy in Iraq.
What history will determine, more accurately, is that Cheney - who came to his position from a company called Halliburton, the home office for war profiteering - tried to hijack the Constitution, with the war in Iraq and just about everything else.
"I was a Rumsfeld man," he said on Fox on Sunday, talking about the secretary of defense eventually fired by George Bush two years ago.
Of course he was a Rumsfeld man. They were going to take out Saddam Hussein and be "greeted as liberators," as Cheney said, "in the streets of Baghdad." They were going to finish the job that Cheney felt George W. Bush's father, Bush 41, didn't finish in the first Gulf War. Bush 41, an actual war hero of this country, clearly wasn't tough enough for Dick Cheney, who would have said or done anything to start a war with Iraq.
But there were never weapons of mass destruction, and Cheney didn't know or didn't care or both. Now more than 4,000 men and women from our armed forces are dead, and the number of wounded and maimed is beyond imagination. And on his way out the door, having diminished his office and this country's standing around the world, Cheney is still going to tell you all about it.
This was more his war than his President's, more than Rumsfeld's. He seemed willing to say anything to justify it. Scooter Libby was willing to do even more than that. It is why Libby ended up getting himself convicted of lying and obstruction of justice for his role in the Valerie Plame case, forcing Bush to grant Libby executive clemency and commute his sentence.
But it is Cheney, Libby's old boss, who seems unable to tell the truth about the last eight years in America. It is why the movie to talk about with him really isn't "A Few Good Men." It is "Dr. Strangelove."