In the Trump years, there was this strand of liberalism/centrism in the Discourse that pined for a Republican administration under George W. Bush. Say what you will about Bush but at least he didn’t (insert latest evil thing Trump did) blah blah blah.
To which my reply was always: Yeah no. George Bush was awful. In many (not all) respects, he was worse than Trump. And one of the main reasons was Dick Cheney.
I’m one of the few defenders of Adam McKay’s Vice because I feel like it was a misunderstood film. It wasn’t about sneering at folks who disagreed with Cheney’s jingoistic maneuvers. It was about power. How power is seized, used, protected. Regardless of political leaning, I think a lot of American citizens are unaware of how politicians use power in our country. It’s a cynical and nihilistic process, which we understand opaquely through the lens of media that’s either hopelessly partisan or compromised.
The book, which I think was one of the inspirations of the film, although not the basis of it, lays out the broad strokes of Cheney’s power grabs from his time in the Nixon and Ford administrations through the early parts of 2007. It’s told in a fractured, inconsistent manner, jumping from subject-to-subject at random. And, it was obviously rushed given its subject matter. But the beats that hit are really enlightening, particularly around Cheney’s time at Halliburton, his ability to freeze the press out of his maneuvers, and his manner of insulating himself from serious blowback. Sure, his approval ratings looked like the thermostat reading on the coldest day in the South Pole, pre-climate change, but he didn’t seem to care. Power is the game and he wielded it like a cudgel.
This was a most unwelcome trip down memory lane but it does function as a good entry level look at Dick Cheney. I’m not sure I have the energy to read more about said subject.