Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Dick Cheney

History will be much kinder to Vice President Dick Cheney than most current pundits. The US has not suffered a major Terrorist attack since 9-11, in large part due to the very much behind-the-scenes efforts of Mr. Cheney. He is blunt, intelligent and extremely well informed. Critics don't always like his style, but most admit he is responsible for discovering and preventing US Terrorist Plots.

His popularity among the general public is low, mainly due to his low profile and lack of public understanding of his accomplishments. He could care less about polls. He cares deeply about the safety of the US. This is the thrust Today's Featured Article at the Online Journal of The Wall Street Journal. (The Cheney Imperative) STEPHEN F. HAYES is the author of this op-ed piece as well as a book about Dick Cheney ("Cheney: The Untold Story of America's Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President").

Mr. Cheney is a no nonsense, decisive action figure. He watched the unfolding 9-11 events in the White House. After 2 planes struck the World Trade Center, he did not hesitate when told another plane was headed toward Washington.
When an aide told Mr. Cheney that another passenger airplane was rapidly approaching the White House, the vice president gave the order to shoot it down. The young man was so surprised at Mr. Cheney's immediate response that he asked again. Mr. Cheney reiterated the order. Thinking that Mr. Cheney must have misunderstood the question, the military aide asked him a third time.

The vice president responded evenly. "I said yes."

These early moments and all that followed from them will define Mr. Cheney's vice presidency. He was aggressive in those first moments of the war on terror and has been ever since.
It is refreshing to learn of a politician who doesn't need to take a "Poll" before deciding what to do. In today's world, we don't have the luxury of delay. Events require quick, intelligent, responsible responses. Critics, of course, say this is not responsible action. I disagree, not because Dick Cheney is always right, but because he is able to see through the fog and confusion of the moment and is not afraid to take a firm decisive stand.

Effective Leaders are not afraid of making the correct but sometimes unpopular decision. They take responsibility and admit when they are wrong. As Mr. Hayes points out in his article, Mr. Cheney's public ratings are "abysmal", mainly because he is underutilized as a communicator.
Mr. Cheney likes to work in the background and he does not care much about being loved. "Am I the evil genius in the corner that nobody ever sees come out of his hole?" Mr. Cheney said in 2004. "It's a nice way to operate, actually." But this reticence has a price. Where there is an information vacuum, people move to fill it, particularly in Washington, a town that operates on appearances.

More important, Mr. Cheney understands these issues as well as anyone in the Bush administration. "He really does get it," says former Iraq Administrator L. Paul Bremer, no Cheney acolyte. "From his time in Congress on the Intel Committee, to his time as secretary of defense--I saw him every now and then in the '90s when we were both out of government--he really is a student a international security matters."
Mr. Hayes makes the case for turning VP Cheney loose as a Communicator, because Mr. Cheney is so effective.
Mr. Cheney can be a very effective communicator. That doesn't mean he never makes mistakes. He does. (His prediction in 2005 that the insurgency in Iraq was in its "last throes" comes to mind.) But recall his impressive outings in debates against Joseph Lieberman in 2000 and John Edwards four years later, or his appearance on "Meet the Press" shortly after 9/11--an interview that even the New York Times called "a command performance."
Since 9-11, many of Dick Cheney's suggestions and ideas have been controversial, but most importantly effective. It has been said that Karl Rove is the President's Brain. On matters of Terror, VP Cheney is more deserving of that title.
With intelligence officials in Washington increasingly alarmed about the prospect of another major attack on the U.S. homeland, and public support for the Bush administration's anti-terror efforts reclaiming lost ground, we need more Dick Cheney.
Next month, we will learn the situational assessment of the Iraq War from General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker. It is time to pave the way with the communication effort by the VP.

No comments: