Dick Cheney has held key posts in nearly every Republican administration since Richard Nixon. The exception occurred during the Reagan years, when Cheney served in the House of Representatives as the representative from Wyoming. Along the way, he cultivated many friends in high places.

A lineman for the county

Lincoln, Nebraska, can claim Dick Cheney as its very own, but only briefly. As a boy, Cheney moved to Casper, Wyoming, where his father worked on the railroad. Young Dick would not be following his father’s railroad tracks. In 1959, a local Republican businessman got the Natrona County High School student a scholarship to Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. The very same Yale would become the alma mater of John Kerry, Bob Woodward, George H.W. Bush and his son, George W. Three of them joined the notorious Skull and Bones society. Cheney was described in Casper as “the all American boy, in the top ten percent of his class….he seemed a natural.”

But Yale would prove too much. The World Book mentions that Cheney “returned home after three semesters.” That, however, is not quite accurate. The truth is that freshman Cheney flunked out. Cheney’s roommates during his first and only semesters recalled that Cheney “…spent all his time partying with guys who loved football but weren’t varsity quality…his idea was, you didn’t need to master the material. He passed one Psych course without studying or attending class…” Eventually, playing fast and loose with academics caught up with him, and he flunked out. When he returned to Casper, he took a job as a lineman with an electric utility. Young Cheney learned from the Yale experience. He enrolled at the University of Wyoming and received a B.A. in political science in 1965. Not one to rest on his laurels, he took a master’s in 1966, also in political science.

Behind every successful man, there may or may not be a great woman. In 1964, Cheney married Lynne Ann Vincent. Lynne, who earned a Ph.D. in English literature, did not hide her light under a Bush. She became a magazine editor, novelist, and college professor.

Rise To Power

In 1968, Cheney won a congressional fellowship, and the couple relocated to Washington, D.C. In 1969, Donald H. Rumsfeld, who was director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, came into the picture, when Cheney joined his staff as his special assistant. In 1971, Cheney served a short stint as White House staff assistant. He then moved on to become assistant director of the Cost of Living Council, a position that he left in 1973. The next year, Cheney made the move to the executive office. He worked as a deputy assistant to President Gerald Ford in 1974 and 1975. He then moved closer to the inner circle, becoming Ford’s chief of staff in late 1975 and stayed in that position until Ford left office in 1977.

On July 10, 1975, Rumsfeld circulated a memo that dealt with the list of possible choices for someone to fill the position of director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Dick Cheney suggested Robert Bork, Lee Iacocca, and Texan George H.W. Bush.

George Bush, formerly the United States ambassador to the United Nations and the chairman of the Republican National Committee, was given the job.

House of Representatives

The fall of Gerald Ford sent Cheney back to Wyoming, but not for long. In 1978, Dick was elected as a Republican to the 98th Congress and was returned for the next five terms. Cheney was no mere member of the House of Representatives. He cultivated a reputation as a hard-line conservative by opposing sanctions against apartheid South Africa. He voted against a resolution demanding the release of Nelson Mandela. On the home front, Cheney opposed the ban on armor-piecing bullets and the Equal Rights Amendment. He voted against expanding the Clean Water Act and Head Start; and he voted against a constitutional amendment banning school busing. He was only one of four members to oppose a ban on guns that avoid detection by metal detectors. At the same time, he began to expand his own base as he served as the chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, chairman of the House Republican Conference and finally as House Minority Whip in 1988.

But the conservative and born-again Neo-Con War Hawk Cheney consistently voted against authorizing military pay increases during his tenure in the House. According to the CQ Almanac, Cheney voted against increasing the pay of both senior enlisted members and junior enlisted members in 1981. In 1982, he voted against the “Uniformed Services Pay Act.” Cheney consistently voted against Veterans Administration Funding for seven of his ten years in the House.

In what must be one of the great ironies inside the beltway, the ever- ambitious Dick resigned his seat in 1989 to become Secretary of Defense under President George H.W. Bush.

He immediately began to gut defense spending. As secretary of Defense, Richard Cheney announced a cutback of nearly 45 percent in the administration’s B-2 stealth bomber program, from 132 aircraft to 75. In further testimony to the defense subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee in June 1989, Cheney said, “This is just a list of some of the programs that I’ve recommended termination: the V-22 Osprey, the F-14D, the Army Helicopter Improvement program, Phoenix Missile, the F-15E, the Apache helicopter, and the M-1 tank.”

The defense industries must have breathed a huge sight of relief when Cheney returned to the private sector and Halliburton.

But between his stints at the Department of Defense and at Halliburton, Dick Cheney did not remain idle. From January 1993 to October 1995, Cheney was a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

But while at the helm at Halliburton, Dick Cheney found the time to become a signatory to the now Infamous Project For A New American Century’s Statement of Principles, along with colleagues Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Jeb Bush, and his current vice presidential chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby. This PNAC document stresses major increases in defense spending. Dick Cheney must have known something that we don’t.

The year 2000 saw Dick Cheney looking for work, and he nominated himself to be vice president and chief minder to the young pretender from Texas. And always looking for new friends, that same year, Cheney was an advisory board member for the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.

What’s next for the man from Casper? A Kerry-Edwards victory in November would hardly cause Cheney any loss of sleep. This ultimate insider has too many low friends in high places.

He can always lobby for the defense industry.

(Sources for this article include the U.S. Congress biographical records, Worldbook.com, Rollingstone.com, right-web.org, the Boston Globe, and the Project for the New American Century) Dick Cheney: Ultimate Insider

By Grady Hawkins

(Editor’s note: The Bush White House and Republicans in general constantly cite Democrats for being weak on defense. A look at Dick Cheney’s voting record reveals a man who is not friendly to the U.S. military.)

Often described as the real power behind the Bush throne, Vice President Richard Bruce Cheney has been working in Washington since the late 1960s. Indeed, his lack of interest in the Vietnam conflict (“I had other priorities”) and his gathering of numerous deferments to avoid active duty can be easily understood. He was too busy collecting political friends and contacts that would last him a lifetime and propel him to the pinnacle of both political power and private sector success. A look back at his long career proves useful in understanding how Dick Cheney has become what many believe to be the chief puppeteer inside the Bush administration.