Former Vice President Dick Cheney addressed Sunday the “notion that there was some kind of fundamental break” between himself and the late President George H.W. Bush after Bush criticized Cheney’s role in his son’s administration.
The elder Bush, who died at 94 in his Houston home on Friday night, made several comments to presidential biographer Jon Meacham in his 2015 book, “Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush,” that were critical of Cheney’s militaristic policy prescriptions after the 9/11 attacks.
“I don’t know he just became very hard-line and very different from the Dick Cheney I knew and worked with,” Bush said of Cheney, who served as his secretary of defense for his entire administration.
“Just iron ass,” Bush said of Cheney’s attitude after the attacks. He decried Cheney’s “seeming knuckling under to the real hard-charging guys who want to fight about everything, use force to get our way in the Middle East.”
Bush was also critical of Cheney’s autonomy as his son’s vice president and the degree to which he expressed his views publicly.
“He had his own empire there and marched to his own drummer,” Bush said.
“Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace asked Cheney about Bush’s remarks to Meacham during a discussion of the 41st president’s legacy.
“I was more, I guess, of an ‘iron ass’ when I was vice president,” Cheney conceded. “The thing that had intervened between my time at defense for 41 and my time as vice president was 9/11. We’d had 3,000 of our people killed on 9/11, more people than we lost at Pearl Harbor and we moved, I think legitimately, into a war-time setting rather than simple law enforcement.”
Cheney said Bush reached out to smooth things over after his critical comments became public and sent him a note that said, “Dear Dick, I did it.”
“And then he went on at great length to tell me what a great American I was,” Cheney said.
Cheney said Bush also invited him to sit at the head table at that year’s Alfalfa Club dinner, one of the most exclusive annual events in Washington.
“That sort of dampened down the notion that there was some kind of fundamental break between Bush and Cheney,” the former vice president said.
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