John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Dick Cheney: Man of the House

Posted on March 25, 2015
46 Dick Cheney 3x4.jpg

"46 Dick Cheney 3x4" by Image from the U.S. Air Force website, but likely made by office of the President. - Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Dick Cheney’s speech at the NRCC Congressional dinner brought back all kinds of memories for me.

I interviewed to work on Mr. Cheney’s Presidential campaign in 1994.   It was Dave Addington who did the interview, but it was Dave Gribbin, Cheney’s long-time advisor, who helped to arrange it for me.

Gribbin was one of the wisest of wise men that I ever knew.  He had worked for Cheney for years but when I first met him, he was Dan Coats’s Chief of Staff.   Coats was looking for a speechwriter, and I wrote speeches for Bob Michel.

Gribbin thought it would have been a perfect match, but Senator Coats felt more comfortable going with somebody older and perhaps a more evangelical.

I didn’t get the job, but I did get a life-long mentor in Dave Gribbin.  He was just that kind of guy.

I also met Mel Raines during that interview process.   We stayed in touch too, and she went on to bigger and better things after working in the Coats office.

She would later become Chief of Staff to Susan Brooks, before departing to work for the Indianapolis Pacers, in what can only be described as the coolest job in America.

Susan Brooks was sitting at my table last night at the NRCC dinner, which just happened to be the same day that Dan Coats announced he was retiring.  I think she should run for his seat and I told her so.  She politely demurred.  She wasn’t going to be making announcements about her political future at the NRCC gala, that’s for certain.

Cheney reminded the crowd that he was a man of the House, and he certainly was that.   When I came to work for Bob Michel, Cheney had just departed for the Defense Department.  Michel thought very highly of the future Vice President, thought he was serious, stable and sober, unlike the guy who didn’t get his job originally, John Tower.

Cheney mentioned how Denny Hastert, who was then the Speaker, gave the Vice President a prime office right off the House floor.   It had been the property of the Ways and Means Committee in times past.  It was a controversial decision at the time.  I can’t imagine Dan Rostenkowsi giving Fritz Mondale or Al Gore one of his offices, and I not sure that Bill Thomas was all that excited about it either.

But Cheney and Hastert were very close.  Cheney was the Hastert-whisperer.  When the Speaker had issues with the White House, and that happened from time to time, the Vice President was called in to smooth bruised feelings.    Cheney was good at that, and the Vice President and the Speaker had perhaps the closest relationship of any Speaker of the House and any Vice President in history.

Cheney’s speech last night was in no ways surprising.  He still thinks we did the right thing in taking out Saddam Hussein, who he insists had the capacity to build nuclear weapons.

He thinks that President Obama is, well, how do I say this politely, not very good.

He thinks Obama is systemically underfunding our military, that he prematurely withdrew our forces in Iraq (which led to the rise of ISIS), that he is undercutting our ally Israel and that he is giving away the store to the Iranians.

Cheney’s remarks got a big round of applause from the crowd, because House Republicans mostly agree with him.

I think you can say that the non-interventionist libertarian moment that briefly flickered in the closing days of the last Bush Administration and the first years of the Obama Presidency has largely dissipated.

You can’t have Ron Paul and Dick Cheney in the same political party.  Their foreign policy visions are just too starkly different.

Rand Paul, if he wants to be President, better start tacking back to the Rubio position on foreign policy.

It was an interesting night and it brought back a bunch of memories for me.

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