Visitors to George W. Bush’s new library will see plenty of familiar faces. As the New York Times noted the other day, there will be a statue of both Bush presidents, a section devoted to Laura Bush’s travels, a video featuring the former president’s daughters, other videos from Bush’s former chiefs of staff, and statues of the family dogs and cat.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney, however, is generally only seen in “cameo appearances in news footage” (thanks to Mike Yarvitz for catching this).
With this in mind, consider the response from the former president when C-SPAN’s Steve Scully asked about Cheney. “What has your relationship been like between you two since you left the White House?”
“You know it’s been cordial – but he lives in Washington and we live in Dallas,” Bush replied, sitting next to his wife, Laura. “One of the saddest things about departing Washington is that you miss your pals and a lot of people were there for all eight years and I became good friends with them, like Vice President Cheney.”
Bush, apparently feeling the need to say more, continued about the man widely seen as the most powerful vice president in American history: “You know, I just I don’t see him – much. And I don’t see many of the people I worked with much and it’s kind of sad. It’s great to be in Texas, however.”
“Cordial” is an interesting choice of words. If Bush had used it to describe his relationship with President Obama, I suspect few would think twice about it. But Cheney?
You’ll recall that as part of the White House scandal in which officials outed a CIA operative to punish her husband, and then lied about it, Cheney aide Scooter Libby was convicted on multiple counts, the first White House official to be convicted of a crime related to his duties since the Iran-contra affair. Cheney wanted Bush to pardon him, but the then-president declined.
Cheney later said, “It was a major strain on our relationship, obviously a source of major friction. The president had the power to fix it and make it right and chose not to.”
Of course, all of this leads to a related question: if George W. Bush isn’t listening to Dick Cheney anymore, why do congressional Republicans and the RNC still look to the former V.P. for guidance?