Cheney / Bush



Dick Cheney’s first political job was as an intern for a Republican Wisconsin congressman. He then joined the staff of Donald Rumsfeld, Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, followed by several positions in the Ford White House, rising to Deputy Assistant to the president. When Rumsfeld became Ford’s defense secretary, Cheney became White House Chief of Staff.

Cheney was elected to five terms in Congress from Wyoming and served as House Minority Whip. While in Congress he opposed creation of the Department of Education, in part because he thought it encroached on states’ rights.

In 1989 George H. W. Bush named him Secretary of Defense. Cheney directed the U.S. invasion of Panama and Operation Desert Storm in the Middle East, and established U.S. military bases in Saudi Arabia. The U.S. had 500,000 stationed in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf when Iraq invaded Kuwait.

After Operation Desert Storm, Cheney said that occupying and attempting to take over Iraq would have been a “bad idea” and would have led to a “quagmire.”

Cheney joined the American Enterprise Institute after Clinton was elected, and went on to become ceo and chairman of the board of Halliburton, 1995-2000. He retired from Haliburton with a reported $20 million package to join George W. Bush’s ticket as vice president in 2000.

Cheney has been characterized as the most powerful and influential vice president in history. He actively promoted an expansion of the powers of the presidency. The Washington Post characterized Cheney not as a “shadow” president, but as someone who usually has the last words of counsel to the president on policies, which in many cases would reshape presidential powers.

Cheney helped shape Bush’s strategy on the War on Terror, alleging that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and there were links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, even though Bush’s intelligence said there was little or no evidence of the latter.

Shortly after 9/11, Cheney said, “We also have to work, though, sort of the dark side, if you will. We've got to spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world. A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies, if we're going to be successful.”

Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld established an alternative program to interrogate post-9/11 detainees because of their mutual distrust of the CIA. Cheney had supported Rumsfeld for Defense to offset the influence of Powell at the State Department.

Cheney’s strongest influence was in shaping budge and tax policy to assure “conservative orthodoxy.” He influenced environmental policy to ease pollution controls for power plants, facilitate nuclear waste disposal, open access to federal timber resources, and avoid federal constraints on greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2008 an EPA official said that Cheney’s office had pushed significantly for large-scale deletions from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report on the health effects of global warming “fearing the presentation by a leading health official might make it harder to avoid regulating greenhouse gases.”

In 2004, Cheney quipped, “Am I the evil genius in the corner that nobody ever sees come out of his hole? It's a nice way to operate, actually.”

Cheney twice flunked out of Yale before attending the University of Wyoming in political science, where he earned a BA and MA. He started but did not finish doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He married in 1964 and has two daughters.

He received five draft deferments during the Viet Nam war, and said, “I had other priorities in the ‘60s than military service.”


George Bush’s career began with an unsuccessful run for Congress in Texas in the late 1970s, after which he went into the oil business and later became co-owner of the Texas Rangers.

He served as governor of Texas, 1995-2000, signing into law a $2 billion tax cut, a bill which allowed for carrying concealed weapons, promoted faith-based organizations, and proclaimed June 10, 2000 as Jesus Day. He served as president of the U.S., 2001-2009.

Bush ran for president in 2000 as a compassionate conservative on a platform to increase the size of the armed forces and cut taxes. The close election was in effect decided by the Supreme Court.

Envisioning a $5.6 billion surplus in ten years, in early 2001 Bush called for some of the largest tax cuts in U.S. history. Because of these tax cuts, a discretionary defense budget which more than doubled, and increased domestic and foreign spending, the national debt grew from $5.6 to $11.3 trillion during his administration.

The longest post-World War II recession began in later 2007, marked by a subprime mortgage crisis, housing market drop, and increased oil prices. Bush signed a $170 billion economic stimulus package, the government took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and there was an $85 billion federal bailout of the American Insurance Group. Job loss in 2008 alone was over 2.6 million.

“I've abandoned free market principles to save the free market system,” he said in late 2008.

After September 11, 2001, Bush launched the War on Terror with wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Bush Administration proceeded to assert a right and intention to engage in “preventive war” in response to perceived threat, forming a basis for what became known as the Bush Doctrine. The war in Iraq was presented as necessary because of Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction.

Over 4,400 U.S. troops were killed and over 31,900 wounded in Operation Iraqi Freedom as of early 2012. The financial cost of the war to the U.S. is over $845 billion. The war has not “virtually paid for itself through increased Iraqi oil exports,” as had been promised.

Bush said in 2006 to an Iowa crowd, “You know, when I campaigned here in 2000, I said, I want to be a war President. No President wants to be a war President, but I am one.”

Shortly before leaving office he remarked, “I think I was unprepared for war.”

Under Bush, the U.S. withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol on global warming and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia.

The USA PATRIOT Act was passed, designed to reduce restrictions in law enforcement agencies’ gathering of intelligence within the United States and give greater discretion to law enforcement and immigration authorities in detaining and deporting immigrants suspected of terrorism-related acts.

Bush signed an executive order allowing federal funding for a few lines of stem cell research, but all of the lines were cultured in contact with mouse cells, creating safety issues that complicate development and approval of therapies. He later vetoed the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which would have allowed federal money to be used for embryonic stem cell research.

No Child Left Behind legislation was passed during the Bush administration. It requires states to test all students at select grade levels in order to receive federal school funding. Critics argue that it is underfunded and its focus on testing and quantitative outcomes comes at the expense of time spent teaching.

Bush graduated from Yale and the Harvard Business School. He served in the Texas and Alabama Air National Guard from 1968-1974 and may have been treated favorably because of his father’s political status. He married in 1977 and has two daughters. His memoir is Decision Points.

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“I look forward to working with you, governor, to change the tone in Washington, to restore a spirit of civility and respect and cooperation.”

(Statement on Vice Presidential selection, July 25, 2000 – Source)

“I’ve been in the business for a long time and never seen a situation quite like this. We’ve had experiences where the president has been shot. We’ve never had a situation where the vice-president shot somebody.”

(Feb. 15, 2006, CNN interview – Source)

“What is not legitimate — and what I will again say is dishonest and reprehensible — is the suggestion by some U.S. senators that the president of the United States or any member of his administration purposely mislead the American people on prewar intelligence.”

(Nov. 21, 2005, speech to the American Enterprise Institute on Iraq and the war on terrorism – Source)


“I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family.”

(Greater Nashua, N.H., Jan. 27, 2000 – Source)

“I'm the commander — see, I don't need to explain — I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being president.”

(Bob Woodward's Bush at WarSource)

“I think I was unprepared for war.”

(On the biggest regret of his presidency, ABC News interview, Dec. 1, 2008 — Source)

“See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.”

(Greece, N.Y., May 24, 2005 — Source)

“I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn't do my job.”

(To a group of Amish he met with privately, July 9, 2004 — Source)