Former Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne appeared on the television talk show 'The View' Tuesday, September 13th to discuss the VP's new book "In My Time." But, even before the couple was invited on stage, the View’s host Barbara Walters was setting the stage. Describing Cheney as "One of the most iconic Republicans," Walters also characterized him as "One of the most controversial figures in American history."
When Mr. and Mrs. Cheney sat down with the women, Walters told the audience that Lynne Cheney had been on the show many times in the past. However regarding the VP she said "He is braving us for the first time." After she announced to the audience that Mr. Cheney’s book "In My Time" was number one on the New York Times Best Sellers List, Walters turned to the VP and patronizingly said "Good for you…"
Talking Politics/Taking Sides
Although the conversation began with a question about Mr. Cheney’s heart condition (he has an implanted heart pump), it quickly moved on to political issues, where it was clear that Ms. Walters (and others) had a difference of opinion from the former VP. When inquiring about the GOP debates, Walters declared "The Country has never been more divisive, politically…" To which Cheney responded that he remembered how divided this Country was in 1968 after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy. Reminding the women about the riots in the cities, the 12 people killed in Washington, and the fourteen thousand Federal Troops that had to be called into the City of Washington to restore order. He then told Walters "We have to be a little careful about saying this time is absolutely unique and never happened before. I think we have had periods in our history when it has been intense." Walters shot back saying "The Iraq war was very divisive," and Cheney countered "It was, but not as divisive as Vietnam." To which Walters gave a look of disagreement and said simply "hum."
Say You’re Sorry!
Joy Behar remarked "I was reading something that George Will wrote, which is a fellow Republican, and he felt that in your book, Vice President, you should’ve apologized for the Iraq war. He said it was an unnecessary war and that you did not apologize. That was one of your fellow Republicans, how do you respond to that?" Mr. Cheney simply said "Well, I just disagree with George," and then his wife, Lynn chimed in saying "You know this whole business about apologizing is such a media fixation and I think there’s a political aspect to it too… There’s a whole story in Dick’s book about the mistake of apologizing, particularly when you’re right. You know you shouldn’t let the media force you into saying you’re sorry for something that you aren’t." Walters jumped back into the conversation by saying "But a lot of people do feel that the Iraq war was such a huge mistake… you have said it’s not… we must talk, I hope you’ll be happy by the time we’re done..."
After a commercial break Behar asked [On the Afghanistan war] "…If you were in charge now, would you pull out immediately, would you withdraw, what would you do?" Cheney replied "I would not pull out immediately. I’m very worried about a rush for the exits that in an effect would waste all the efforts that have been made by so many people, both in Iraq and Afghanistan. You got to remember what happened the last time we pulled out of Afghanistan, which we did at the end of the 80s, after we’d been involved there for a long time. We ended up with the Taliban in control; they had a civil war; we had Osama bin Laden invited in; they set up training camps; they trained twenty thousand al Qaeda terrorist in the late 90s, and then of course used that as a base of operations to kill three thousand Americans on 9/11. So there are consequences if we pull out."
Walters then got to the 'heart' of her issue with the following question "Okay, I want to talk about the most controversial aspect of your career and that is the support of the Iraq war…you have been unapologetic about it, in your book and in other statements you’ve made, because you say that we got rid of Saddam Hussein and that was the most important thing. On the other hand, we still do not have democracy in Iraq; they are closer to Syria or Iran than they have been before. We lost over four thousand men and women, trillions of dollars spent, a hundred thousand Iraqis; Okay, and we got rid of Saddam Hussein, but it hasn’t done that much, there are still other dictators. It’s hard for me to understand. I hate people who say ‘With all due respect,’ but with all due respect Mr. Cheney; it’s hard for me to understand that all this was worth it just to get rid of Saddam Hussein!"
Cheney was ready to take on the question and began by saying "Well, let me go back and take you back to where we were prior to 9/11. In those days we looked on terrorism as a law enforcement problem, we arrested whoever the terrorist was and then moved on. On 9/11 we got hit with an attack that killed over 3000 people…" Walters interrupted saying "Yea, but he was not, Saddam Hussein was not involved with terrorist!" Cheney chimed in saying "Wait a minute, wait a minute. I listened to the question, now I get to give the answer, Barbara"
Fortunately, Cheney was allowed to complete his answer uninterrupted (for the most part), saying "What we found was all of a sudden it was an act of war against the United States, it wasn’t about law enforcement anymore, and the thing that became a great concern to us, and certainly to me, I know the President and others involved, was the danger that the next attack would involve far deadlier technology than airline tickets and box cutters that we had to deal with on 9/11. A very real possibility out there that they’d try to find a nuclear weapon to use against us or a biological agent of some kind, and the reason we focused on Iraq was because Saddam Hussein had a track record. He had produced and used 'WMD-4,' killed thousands of his own people, violated 16 out of 17 UN Security Council resolutions, started 2 wars and provided a safe haven for terrorist, he was making $25,000 payments to the families of suicide bombers. So we were most concerned that the place where he might get a nexus between that technology, on the one hand, and terrorism on the other, was in Iraq and that it was important to get rid of Saddam Hussein if we were going to avoid it."
Speaking softly, Walters said "Even though we didn’t find the weapons of mass destruction?" To which Cheney replied "Well, we didn’t find a stock pile of weapons of mass destruction, but if you go back and read the Iraq Survey Report put together by Charles Duelfer and David Kay, they said they were more concerned by what they did find than if they’d found weapons of mass destruction. Partly because he still had the personnel, he had the technology, he had the raw materials, he had the designs for the weapons and he had every intention of going back into production as soon as the world turns back and the inspectors withdrew. So the fact of the matter is, not only did we get rid of Saddam Hussein, it was also our actions in Iraq that forced Moammar Gadhafi to surrender his nuclear weapons, and all of that material now resides in the United States. Taking those two down let us then take down the A Q Khan network, which was headed by the man who developed the nuclear weapons for Pakistan. He went into house arrest and it had wide impact throughout the region, and significant progress in terms of dealing with this difficultly of possible nexus lexis between, on the one hand terrorist and on the other hand the kind of deadly capability that could put at risk hundreds of thousands of American lives.” Before the commercial break Walters simply said “Thank you for putting your own point of view on it."
Hillary for President?
The interview took on a lighter tone when Elizabeth Hasselbeck asked which GOP candidate Cheney believed had the most "legitimate shot in the general election?" But the VP would not give any specific names, saying he had not endorsed anyone.
Another co-host, Sherri Shepherd commented "I hear that you think Hillary Clinton should throw her hat into the ring…why would you like Hillary Clinton?" Having a bit of fun, Cheney made a little wisecrack, saying "I think they ought to have as much fun on the Democratic side as we are on the Republican side." Behar then said "Didn’t you say that Hillary would have made a better President, did I read that?" Cheney would only say that he thought Secretary Clinton was an "impressive woman."
Tea (Party) Anyone?
Near the conclusion, Whoopi Goldberg (who appeared uninterested throughout the interview) scornfully asked "Are you a fan of the Tea Parties, sir?" Cheney replied "I think the Tea Parties helped in terms of shaping the agenda and put on the table so that members of congress can’t walk away from this problem we’ve got of the huge national debt."
From Hostile to Jesting
After sitting silently for most of the interview, looking somber and at times glaring at the VP, Goldberg decided to ask a second question saying "I got a crazy question for you. Just because I have to know, cause it’s been burning in me. Usually if something big happens in the Country they hide the president. On 9/11 they hid you! They told us where the President was flaying, over what city and we knew everything. But we didn’t know where you were for like a long time." A voice sounding like Behar could be heard saying "Where were you?"
Cheney told the women that he was in the bunker, underneath the White House, and was later taken to Camp David.
Walters ended the interview by saying "We want to thank you both for coming on. I think it was very brave of you to face all of us."
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