How Bush went from hero to zero in the eyes of Dick Cheney

Memoirs to tell of Veep's change of heart in waning years of presidency

In office he was the eminence grise behind the George W Bush throne, a silent brooding figure who was the most powerful and probably the most unpopular vice president in modern United States history. Now however Dick Cheney is poised to go public, in a memoir charging that, in his second term at least, his old boss ignored his advice and, in a word, went "soft".

Mr Cheney's frame of mind as he prepares his memoirs, likely to be published in spring 2011, was described yesterday in a front page article in The Washington Post, drawing on discussions the former vice president has held with former officials, aides and policy experts. What emerges is a man convinced he is right, now as then, that the US faced extraordinary threats, above all that a renegade state might pass nuclear weapons to terrorists. These threats in turn demanded an absolutely uncompromising response.

At first Mr Bush agreed, "but in the second term he [Mr Cheney] felt Bush was drifting away from him," according to one anonymous participant in a recent conversation with Mr Cheney. "He said Bush was shackled by public reaction and the criticism he took. The implication was that Bush had gone soft on him, or rather that Bush had hardened against Cheney's advice." The Cheney doctrine was "cast iron strength at all times – never apologise, never explain" while Mr Bush moved towards a conciliatory approach.

From the start, Mr Cheney was a vice president with a difference – a number two who was far more experienced in foreign policy than his boss, far more versed in the ways of Washington, and yet who had no ambition of becoming top dog himself, and thus cared little what the public thought of him. His watchword might have been the saying attributed to the Roman emperor Caligula, Oderint dum metuant – let them hate so long as they fear.

These factors combined to give him extraordinary influence in Mr Bush's first term. Later however, that influence seems to have waned. Even at the time, it was clear Mr Cheney had scant enthusiasm for the more emollient policies pursued by Mr Bush, from an end to waterboarding of terror suspects to a gentler approach to North Korea and Iran, the erstwhile founder members of the "axis of evil".

In his memoirs, Mr Cheney will make clear "doubts about the main channels of American policy during the last few years," John Hannah, his foreign policy adviser during the second Bush term, told The Post. Personal factors also contributed to the growing distance between the two men. Mr Cheney was dismayed when Mr Bush forced his old friend and mentor Donald Rumsfeld out of the Pentagon in 2006. At the time he described the departing Mr Rumsfeld as the "finest" Secretary of Defence in history – not a widely-shared view.

Later, Mr Cheney was even more upset by Mr Bush's refusal when he left office to grant a pardon to the vice-president's former chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby, convicted of perjury in 2007 for leaking the name of a CIA operative. After his impassioned appeals were rejected, Mr Cheney reportedly accused Mr Bush of "abandoning" an innocent man, likening it to "leaving a soldier on the battlefield."

This dirty laundry, it seems, is now to be aired in Mr Cheney's book. Robert Barnett, the super-lawyer who negotiated the contract, has apparently been telling publishers the memoir will be "packed with news", while the author himself has whetted appetites by noting cryptically that the "statute of limitations has expired" on many controversial issues of the Bush years.

The most secretive vice president of modern times, rarely interviewed and famously fond of "secure undisclosed locations," is set to reverse course completely in retirement.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

But if a real smoking gun is found, that might change things, says Tom Peck
Twenty two years later Jurassic Park series faces questions over accuracy of the fictional dinosaurs in it

Tyrannosaurus wrecked?

Twenty two years on, Jurassic Park faces questions over accuracy
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
Genes greatly influence when and how many babies a woman will have, study finds

Mother’s genes play key role in decision to start a family

Study's findings suggest that human fertility is still evolving
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
England can win the Ashes – and Elvis Presley will present the urn

England can win the Ashes – and Elvis will present the urn

In their last five Test, they have lost two and drawn two and defeated an India side last summer who thought that turning up was competing, says Stephen Brenkley
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)