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A Cheney Speaks Out on 2008

Lynne Cheney, at the Vice President's residence earlier this month, is speaking out about her new book and the 2008 race. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post).

President Bush and Vice President Cheney have largely stayed out of the fray when it comes to the contest to claim the White House next year. But that has not stopped Lynne Cheney. The "second lady," for lack of a better title, has been out and about lately, happily bashing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner. But she does seem to have a soft spot for Sen. Barack Obama.

Cheney has a book to sell, a memoir of growing up in Wyoming called "Blue Skies, No Fences," and so she has been showing up everywhere in recent weeks, from CBS to C-Span, offering commentary on the current political scene along the way. She has assailed Clinton for taking seemingly inconsistent stands on Iraq, denounced former president Jimmy Carter for allegedly working against his country's interests and defended former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney against attacks on his Mormon faith based on "cultural illiteracy."

None of which should necessarily come as a surprise. Cheney was an outspoken figure long before her husband rose to the vice presidency. As chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Humanities under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, she was a strong conservative voice in the battles over education curriculum. And since Dick Cheney took office, she has occasionally let loose, famously chastising Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004, for publicly mentioning her gay daughter and later jousting with CNN's Wolf Blitzer over torture and enemy propaganda.

In this case, she has a certain freedom to say more explicitly what her husband and her husband's boss probably think but feel they cannot say outright for fear of getting directly involved in the partisan battle to succeed the president. And perhaps unsurprisingly, she has taken aim most directly at Clinton, the New York senator who for now remains way out in front in the battle for the Democratic nomination.

"I have been troubled by her national security statements, which seem inconsistent and deliberately so -- you know, voting against funding for the war, but voting, or saying in a debate, that we would have troops in Iraq perhaps through 2013," Cheney said during an appearance at the National Press Club last week. "It's one of these things where for every yin, there's a yang, so pretty soon you don't what is going to be the next statement."

Cheney added: "Her only -- how shall I say it? -- the only thing I can be sure about Mrs. Clinton's stance on Iraq is that there'll be another one."

On the other hand, she seemed sympathetic to Obama, the Illinois senator who she recently discovered has family roots with Dick Cheney, making them eighth cousins. Asked about critics who have called Obama naïve for saying he would meet with rogue leaders, the vice president's wife seemed to suggest that he was being held to a double standard.

"I honestly think that Senator Obama has been criticized for those stands in a way that perhaps some of the other Democratic candidates haven't been for their stands," she said. "You know, it really caused a kind of firestorm when he said some of the things he said, when he quit wearing his flag pin, for example. So I think there's been a pretty close eye on Senator Obama."

The distinction in her judgments of Clinton and Obama may stem from more than familial loyalty. Many Democrats suspect Republicans are going after Clinton for a reason -- either to tear her down because they fear her the most (that would be the interpretation of the Clinton camp) or to build up her bona fides with the party's liberal base by attacking her from the right in hopes that she would win the nomination and be a weak general election candidate (that would be the interpretation of the Obama and John Edwards camps).

Either way, Lynne Cheney has shown no affection for a woman who knows what it's like to be the spouse of a man in high office. "I'm certainly not going to be a supporter of Mrs. Clinton's and I have been troubled by the fact that you can't know what sort of president she would be, particularly on national security," she told the Associated Press in an interview. "It makes me uncomfortable. I kind of like politicians that are more in the Dick Cheney mold, who say what they mean and mean what they say."

That earned guffaws on the left, of course, given the widespread antipathy for the vice president. But Lynne Cheney gives no quarter when it comes to her husband. She did show up on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" with a Darth Vader doll for the host, Jon Stewart, but then he ribbed her for seeming to get up and leave the set rather quickly at the end of their segment. By contrast, the second lady set aside humor and picked up the shiv to defend her husband against Carter, who denounced the vice president as a "disaster for our country."

"Jimmy Carter is so predictable," she shot back, talking with Joe Scarborough on MSNBC. "He brings out a book and he makes a fuss. He creates a controversy. He did it with his last book by suggesting that Israel was creating a society of apartheid with Palestine. He's done it this year by criticizing the administration and calling Dick names." She added: "I really lost respect for Jimmy Carter in 1991," saying he intervened with foreign leaders to urge them to vote against a U.N. resolution supporting action to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi invaders. "He really has crossed some kind of line here," she said of Carter.

As for the Republican presidential contest, Lynne Cheney has been more candid in admitting what her husband and the president have not, which is that her party is dispirited about its choices. "I have a lot of friends who are moaning and groaning and, you know, rubbing their foreheads," she said at the press club. "And I tell them, 'Snap out of it. We have some good candidates.'"

While not picking among those good candidates, she has come to Romney's defense on religion, noting that her own forebears were Mormons. "I've been shocked, really, at the fact that it seems to -- there seems to be a place in our culture for, gosh, saying that Mormonism is not a real religion," she said in an interview on Hugh Hewitt's radio show. "The stories of my Mormon forbearers are so heroic that maybe it's a kind of cultural illiteracy that's led to this."

Her recent spate of blunt-talk appearances has made her a hero of sorts to some conservatives aching for a champion. "If nothing else, her words last week reminded us what an able operator Mrs. Cheney is," Jeremy Lott wrote in the American Spectator this week. "The former chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities and former Crossfire co-host is well-connected, smart and very good at inflicting pain on political opponents. In fact, she might be better than her husband."

So enthusiastic was Kathryn Jean Lopez that she encouraged the second lady to run for president. "She would shake up the race and she would make watching it a treat," Lopez wrote on National Review Online. "The woman knows what she wants to say and says it well -- which would take some stress off her natural allies." Reprising Cheney's remarks on how Clinton should be more like her husband, Lopez went on to write: "I'd call that fire in the belly: Run Cheney, run!"

Of course, there does not seem to be any real prospect of that. Cheney disclaimed any interest in a political career ofherownduringan appearance on C-Span's Book TV: "It took me a long time to figure out what I really love is writing."

And speaking out.

-- Peter Baker

By Post Editor  |  October 23, 2007; 8:36 AM ET
Categories:  A_Blog , Morning Cheat Sheet  
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While it might be unseemly to criticize a "second lady," I'm afraid I have no use for Lynne Cheney -- an acid tougued, hypocritical political hack who is more than happy to go and bootlick for her rancid, despciable husband. And for the record, Mrs Cheney: NO ONE CARES WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT ANYTHING! PLEASE GO AWAY!

Posted by: vegasgirl1 | October 24, 2007 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Tell Lynn Cheney to crawl back in her cave with her neanderthal husband. No one cares what she thinks.

Posted by: morningglory51 | October 24, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

i would like to recomend that book to every republican who voted for bush no one but twice.

Posted by: azguitar | October 24, 2007 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Who the hell cares about what she thinks. Her husband is not credible so they send her out. Go home and bake cookies for the troops. Steven

Posted by: swhart.21stcentury | October 24, 2007 3:14 AM | Report abuse

This women proved she was an idiot years ago, she married her husband, if that doesn't maker one I don't know what would.

As far as her running for President, it would be good for the Republican party because they don't have anyone now thats in the top runners that says the same thing twice, not to get nasty but that is what most of the people in this world would call liers.

Of course she is not going to run for office, Big Dick has already swaped enough American life's for profit, so they don't need for cash, friends maybe but not money.

Posted by: jamesedson05089 | October 24, 2007 12:06 AM | Report abuse

A student of Hood College in Frederick Md. meet Mrs. Cheney at a symposium on campus several years back...and guess what...she is just as mean-spirited and condescending in person as is her husband ...the Prince of Darkness.

Posted by: logcabin1836 | October 23, 2007 7:00 PM | Report abuse

She is illrelevant....along with her spouse. He should be in prison for his crap, and I hear she is not any better. Why are these people given any forum?

Posted by: woodard3 | October 23, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

so, lynn cheney loves writing. well then, how come she's disappeared her ode to lesbian love on the frontier from readers' access. lotsa peeps been clamoring for that lusty tome...

Posted by: mycomment | October 23, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I would revise the quote about politicians in the Dick Chney mold to be about those who say mean things and are mean when they say them. Unfortunately the syndrome is very virulent these days and crosses ideologies.

Posted by: ejgallagher1 | October 23, 2007 3:49 PM | Report abuse

If any member of the right (Lynn C, Rush L, Ann Coulter) writes a book, regardless of how empty of insight and how full of pit bull attacks on Hillary Clinton and other Democrats, there is always a 29% bunch of loonies who buy their books. That's enough to make it profitable. Also, they can begin a round of expensive speeches to be delivered in S Carolina and Georgia and Florida, and join an 'objective' panel of Americans on Fox News (that is, when Fox isn't telling us about Paris Hilton and Britanny Spears).

Posted by: caesarganz | October 23, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

The Missus should go back and bake cookies for her "says what he means and means what he says" husband. It's that simplistic, "for us or against us", "no dissent or you're the enemy" thinking that led to the massively screwed up America we're now living in. Her husband is a dangerous psychopath and needs to be arrested and put in jail for a long time to stop his criminal behavior. Maybe he could get on the prison waterboarding team. As long as he doesn't suffer organ failure it's just a swim in the pool.

Posted by: thebobbob | October 23, 2007 2:42 PM | Report abuse

"I have been troubled by her national security statements, which seem inconsistent and deliberately so -- you know, voting against funding for the war, but voting, or saying in a debate, that we would have troops in Iraq perhaps through 2013,"
It's funny how you can move the "perhaps" to the end and make it less consequential. The "voting" misspeak was cute, too. It's funny, in reality the two referenced positions are not inconsistent at all, but a little emphasis rearrangement and a misleading assertion and Voila! It's funny Baker passes all of this along without comment. Wouldn't want to be seen as taking sides, I guess.

Posted by: zukermand | October 23, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: tmac1938 | October 23, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

All I care about is her opinion on torture - on the record, under oath and with a transcript.

Posted by: H5N1 | October 23, 2007 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I feel so sorry for Mary, being related to these two hateful f*^@$ (Adolph and Eva-Braun Cheney) who continue to work from a position of power to keep full civil rights from her and the rest of us gay Americans.Jesus must really be dust since the heart attacks he keeps throwing at Adolph Cheney seem not to affect the undead--or is it just that there is no heart there to attack.pass adolph and eva the cyanide, Mary!

Posted by: michaelleger1 | October 23, 2007 1:43 PM | Report abuse

No one but the ignorant care what this witch has to say about anything. Her and her husband should crawl back under whatever rock they slithered out from, and quit screwing up our country. For her to give opinions on who would be disastrous in the presidency is like Bush giving advice on ethics in government. No one cares. Go back home and be happy your husband is not in prison, yet!

Posted by: COLEBRACKETT | October 23, 2007 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Who gives a hoot about a book she wrote. Certainly the Wash. Poste could find more important things to tell us about. Toilet Paper for the Outhouses.

Keeping out of the political frey. Thats a joke, I am sure. Ms. Cheney was not so shy about making nasty remarks to the news reporters about Kerry not being a nice guy disclosing her daughter is Gay. How about the Monster Dead Eye Cheney sh is married to. He is a nice guy. Like the money grubbing fanatical no person boss he has.

Posted by: LOONYBIN2000 | October 23, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

I sense some hidden amount of jealousy in Lynn vis a vis Hillary. After all both are married to a Vice President and a ex-President. But Hillary has carved out a future for herself that Lynn Chenney can not even dream of! Yet while making the round of talk shows Lynn touts her husband but can not see another female rise in the political ranks though in the opposition.

On The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Lynn boasted of the Bush record of no terrorist attack on American interest around the world but she forgot to mention the slaugter of 3800 Americans in Iraq war and 13,000 wounded out of which 6000 are very seriously wounded. She forgot that her husband Vice President Dick Chenney the architect of the Iraq war, shoulders the responsibility of the American deaths and disabilities on the Iraq front.

The Iraq war has run longer than the whole of World War II with no end in sight for DECADES to come. This Iraq War with Bush's agenda of Mid-East "Freedom and Democracy" will be fought by our children and grand children unless we have a grand diplomatic solution by the next President Hillary Clinton.

Posted by: ajain31 | October 23, 2007 12:54 PM | Report abuse

If you think the Cheney's have been beneficial to this nation in the past 7 years, by all means listen to this one intently.
If however, you do not, give a note to the Post that they wasted our time by giving deference to a soon to be quaint view of reality.

Posted by: wmc418 | October 23, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Who in heaven cares what this woman has to say about 2008 or anything else? Yet, the news media are not only eager to promote her irrelevant books but also provide her with the stage to glorify the Cheney regime and its supporters.

Posted by: bn1123 | October 23, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Here's the link to my Spectator column:

Best, Jeremy Lott

Posted by: georgewill | October 23, 2007 10:09 AM | Report abuse

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