The Man Who Would Be Veep

Say what you will about George W.’s pick for vice president. Come to think of it, why not listen to what he has to say for himself?

You may know him as a Texas oil tycoon. Or perhaps you remember his days as George Bush Sr.’s Secretary of Defense; or as vice chairman of the Iran-Contra hearings; or even as Gerald Ford’s chief of staff. More likely than not, you don’t remember him at all. Yet, as of today, Richard “Dick” Cheney stands a better than 50-50 chance of replacing Al Gore as Vice President of the United States. Throughout his quarter-century of public service, Cheney has earned a reputation as a thinking-man’s conservative — not to mention as a short-tempered hawk. We offer this primer on the man who reminds us of the last Vice President Dick (Nixon, that is). Herewith, Cheney in his own words:

On ambition:
“I set out to be a political science teacher. My years in Washington sort of got in the way of that, but it all ties in. What I want to do is political stuff.” — The Washington Post, Aug. 28, 1978

On compromise:
“Confrontation fits our strategy. Polarization often has very beneficial results. If everything is handled through compromise and conciliation, if there are no real issues dividing us from the Democrats, why should the country change and [vote us into office]?” —The New Republic, June 3, 1985

On patriotism:
“I had other priorities in the ’60s than military service.” — The Washington Post, April 5, 1989

On defense:
“Denuclearization is not a good idea.” — UPI, May 8, 1990

On the bloated defense budget:
“Threats have become remote. So remote that they are difficult to discern.” — Mother Jones, Sept./Oct. 1993

On the importance of education (specifically, his at Yale):
“I flunked out.” — The Washington Post, April 3, 1991

On style:
“I don’t tend to pound on the podium and drool.” –AP, October 10, 1994,

On his similarity to Popeye:
“I am what I am, and if people aren’t willing to accept me on that basis then, hell, vote for somebody else.” — U.S. News & World Report, Oct. 25, 1993