Liz Cheney: When Your Dad is 'Darth Vader'

What do you do when your father’s been pilloried but you’re convinced his policies will be vindicated by history? If you’re Liz Cheney, you help him write a memoir, In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir, in the hope of setting the record straight.

By Amanda Robb
Liz Cheney, Dick Cheney, In My Time book jacket
Photograph: Illustration by QuickHoney

While working on the book, did you learn anything about your father that surprised you?
I asked him if he was angry when Al Gore retracted his concession during the 2000 election. He said, “Not really. I felt more like it was amateur hour at the Gore campaign. You know, they didn’t have to concede that night. There’s no rule that you have to. So I felt if it had been a professional operation, they would have waited. The fact that they did concede ended up hurting them throughout the recount.” That was very surprising to me. He has an ability to step out of situations that involve him and look at them analytically.

How have your thoughts about the Bush administration evolved?
A lot of what has happened since [they left] has vindicated the decisions they made. President Obama has kept Guantánamo Bay open. Some of the controversial -programs, like the terrorist-surveillance program, are still going on. President Obama made the decision to surge troops in Afghanistan. Frankly, it’s become clear that a lot of the policies [my dad and President Bush] adopted are necessary for keeping the country safe. The big change, of course, was with enhanced interrogation [such as waterboarding, a practice Obama has ended]. My dad played a big role in 2009 in getting documents declassified that showed that those programs generated intelligence that saved lives and prevented attacks.

What does the killing of Osama bin Laden under President Obama’s watch mean in the context of your father’s and President Bush’s policies?
Our ability to find and kill bin Laden is really [due to the fact] that a lot of people worked very hard for a lot of years, especially our intelligence community and our Navy Seals, who went in and did it. They deserve credit, and certainly President Obama deserves credit for making the decision to send those Seals in. I think it was the result of years of work and a very good decision by President Obama.

You were a high-ranking State Department official under George W. Bush. What’s your take on recent events in the Middle East?
I think it’s very complicated. The early days of the revolt in Egypt, where you saw young people holding their smartphones in the air saying, “These are our weapons,” that’s very positive. But now we’re seeing some groups that are not interested in true democracy who are taking advantage of the vacuum. I have been pretty dis-appointed in this administration’s ability to deal with these challenges.

Should we be doing anything with the Saudis regarding women’s rights?
We should be pushing them. We should be standing up behind these women who are now driving. One thing that the Bush administration worked on and that I worked on is empowering women in the Middle East and sending the mes-sage that when you teach a woman to read, you are teaching her whole family to read. These are policies that have been continued by the Obama administration.

What do you think of the current Republican presidential field?
I think we have a good one. But I am worried about the national-security position of the Republican Party. We have a number of candidates who want to adopt an isolationist approach. It’s understandable that people are war weary. And with the economy as bad as it is, people are very worried about defense spending. But I think it is a dangerous and naive approach to believe if we simply bring our troops home, the threat will be over.

What do you think of Michele Bachmann?
She was one of the best on this national–security issue in the [June] debate. I find her very impressive. As a mother of five, I like to see someone else with five kids out there, throwing her hat in the ring.

First Published August 31, 2011

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Sorry but the idiot we have for VP now is the worst. Biden is a buffoon and an embarrassment. And thanks to his inept boss we have lost 2 millions jobs, not one created in August, and we are trillions in debt with no productive future in sight.
Would the "author" ask someone from the Clinton admin. if her ideas evolved. How insulting. In the first paragraph she manages to get in hard core conservative ( ever hear the liberal media refer to someone as hard core liberal?)Fox news, terrorist and George Bush. Must be a record.

Reece Brown09.01.2011

By golly that old adage about daughters loving their dads has just entered the building.Dragging sentiment along with it. I suppose if I weren't distracted by the first question and imagining that it was Sasha or Malia being asked it that I might be persuaded to entertain sentiment for Dick Cheney. Well I feel more compassion for the poverty level working family who can't get a tax break.

C CA09.01.2011

Is anyone surprised that daughter Liz defends daddy Dick? Dan Quayle was inept, but innocuous. Dick Cheney was adept and a disaster. Now Mr. Cheney is uncomfortable with his popularity numbers? Thousands are dead because of him. You can't have it all, Mr. Vice-President - wreaking havoc will cost you some popularity points in the polls. Live with it.


I am not impressed by this defence of her father and PR for his book We are all socialized by our parents and community to accept the mores of our family so I guess this blind devotion is to be expected but this man did some serios damage to our country at the expense of many lives and to try to spin it now is just wrong. Let it go Dick and daughter...if history proves you right let history prove you right don't do the FOX spin. The wrongs this man put into place (halliburton excesses, civil rights violations, breaks for the wealthy, extreme debt for the country and not for the direct benefit of citizens are all criminal.). While i understand her desire to stand up for dad, i don't really get why More provided the forum for such nonsense.

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