Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Book Review: "In My Time" by Dick Cheney

The Kitten gave me a copy of Lord Voldemort's autobiography for Christmas, and it is worth the read.  It isn't US Grant's story, mind you, but it is an interesting, straightforward account of a very interesting life.

Essentially this is two books--one, the pre-Bush VP days, and the other, an account of Cheney's time as VP.  To my mind, the pre-Bush Cheney is far more interesting.  Power company lineman (and 2 time DUI recipient), asked to leave Yale (again, twice), college/grad student, husband, father, White House Staffer, White House Deputy Chief of Staff, Chief of Staff, Congressman, Secretary of Defense, Corporate CEO--the man lived a big life.  A lot here I didn't know, and a lot here that helped explain why he was the man he was. 
The VP part of the book?  Well, it is told with less wistfulness, less joy, more business and dedication.  There is some serious score settling here--as Condi, Colin Powell, and Richard Armitage come in for some rough treatment.  The Bush Years were probably too fresh in my mind for me to really like this section--it seemed more like reading a stack of Time Magazines than reading a life story.  But there are some great sections in this part--especially the discussion of striking Syria's nuclear complex (something Cheney advocated), a job eventually taken on by the Israelis.

Cheney's treatment of GWB remains loyal and respectful, though it is clear the President's failure to pardon Scooter Libby created distance between them.  Cheney was never what he was portrayed to be in the press (pulling the strings, the man behind the curtain) and he's not afraid to say that here.  He was, however, a very different brand of Vice President, and his role in many of the most important decisions of the Bush Presidency sets him apart from the field in terms of influence and legacy.

Read the book.  It is clearly Dick Cheney's no-nonsense voice, with spare prose and sentences written that point you in the direction of conclusions but never actually take you all the way, especially when he was trying to say unpleasant things about another person.  Of interest to me was the fact that Dick Cheney and Newt Gingrich came into the House the same year--and while most of Newt's time in the spotlight occurred while Cheney was in the private sector, the two did serve together in the house for ten years.  Cheney is again, respectful of Gingrich and gives him a good deal of credit for bringing about a Republican majority in the House.  But he did not align himself with Gingrich's young insurgency, choosing instead to send his Chief of Staff to Newt's meetings.

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