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Cheney-Bush relations: a ‘different understanding’

While Bush was ‘decider’, Cheney was to frame the decision

Gulf News

Dubai: To many Americans, the relationship between former president George W. Bush and former vice-president Dick Cheney was not a typical relationship. This was probably because of the men’s characters, many believe.

“Many observers believe that Cheney’s vice-presidency was idiosyncratic — that without his persona, and Bush’s, his power won’t be replicated,” said an American press report when Cheney left office few years back.

When Cheney was to be briefed on the vice-president’s typical duties, which include fund raising and public appearances, he replied “I have a different understanding with the president,” former vice-president Dan Quayle recalled in a press interview.

The American National Public Radio (NPR) said, “Washington Post reporter Bart Gellman, author of Angler, an extraordinary book on the Cheney vice-presidency, reports that Cheney was a sponge for details, a skilled bureaucratic in-fighter, and at least in the first term, drove policy on the issues he cared about.

“In the second term, with a more experienced and wary president Bush, Cheney’s influence waned but hardly ceased.”

Bush served for two terms between 2001 and 2009, in which Cheney became the 46th vice-president of the US.

While the US president was the “decider”, Cheney was believed to frame the decision by limiting options and “suppressing information”.

“Cheney created a new doctrine in which the president was accountable to no one for his decisions as commander-in-chief,” Gellman said. “What was new and innovative here, and quite radical, was the notion that the president’s interpretation could not be challenged, that because the executive is a separate branch, courts and Congress could not tell the president, in any way, how to exercise his powers as commander-in-chief.”

During Bush’s eight years, the US was a target of a terrorist attack in 2001. The result was a declaration of a war on terrorism. This led to the image of the US as a power that respected human rights and freedoms getting tarnished, and to the diminishing of the country’s global popularity, mainly among third world countries.

However, the smooth relations between the president and the vice-president were influenced by some incidents, press reports noted. One of these incidents included what is known the Valerie Plame Scandal, where the identity of a covert CIA agent was leaked to the press.

Cheney’s chief-of-staff was found guilty. Bush commuted his jail sentence but didn’t pardon him. Cheney announced his disagreement with the president.

Another area of disagreement was sex-marriage. Bush was against it. But Cheney, whose younger daughter is a lesbian, supported the amendment of the banning of same-sex marriage.