That got George H.W. Bush’s blood boiling.
“I’m tempted to come off the reservation,” said Bush senior. “And if he continues that, I’m going to tell the nation what I think about him as a human being and a person.”
That “reservation” is the one to which former presidents and vice presidents retire after their terms are over. On it, no ill is spoken of the current administration.
It’s an unwritten rule that is rarely violated because former presidents and vice presidents understand they’re no longer privy to intelligence the White House receives. Thus, criticizing or second guessing the president makes you look bitter, ill-informed and undignified.
Clinton was merely campaigning for Al Gore, but Bush was within his rights to call out the president. Poppy should now tell former Vice President Dick Cheney to shut up.
When he served as Secretary of Defense in the first Bush administration, Cheney earned a lot of respect overseeing the masterful Desert Storm operation that kicked Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait.
Cheney sagely advised the president then not to chase the two-bit tyrant back to Baghdad.
In a 1994 interview posted at YouTube, Cheney explained America would have found itself in a “quagmire” had we invaded Iraq, rhetorically asking how many U.S. lives were worth spending to depose Saddam. “Not many,” he said then.
Nine years later, Cheney had done a 180. Suddenly, invading Iraq was Job One even though Saddam had no hand in the worst terrorist attack on American soil.
In the run-up to the 2003 invasion, when Bush administration officials were exploiting public fears of nuclear “mushroom clouds,” no doubt Cheney believed the attack on Saddam would follow the Desert Storm script.
It would be quick and almost bloodless, even though it was Cheney who predicted years of chaos if Iraq’s government was toppled.
No WMDs, no problem — as long as the shooting was over before anyone noticed, accounting for Bush’s rush to declare “Mission Accomplished” just two months after the invasion.
We soon discovered major combat operations weren’t over. In fact, they were just beginning.
So the 1994 Cheney was spot on. The 2003 Cheney was dead wrong.
Ten years, 4,487 American dead and more than $1 trillion in borrowed money got us nothing but quagmires and chaos.
If Cheney had gone quietly to that post-presidential reservation, humbled at being so completely wrong about so much, he’d be just a bad memory by now.
Instead, Cheney is an unhinged critic of President Obama, ignoring presidential decorum and revealing himself to be, yes, bitter, ill-informed and undignified.
After multiple heart surgeries, Cheney is likely on the last of his nine lives. He appears desperate to salvage his own shattered legacy by savaging Obama’s.
Cheney’s recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, co-written with his obnoxious offspring Liz, cast the president as a feckless dilettante more intent on his golf handicap than combating terrorism, which is utter nonsense.
Obama killed 9/11 perpetrator Osama bin Laden, whom the Bush administration was unable to bag for seven years.
It was also Obama who took dozens of terrorist leaders off the board, most recently the Libyan who allegedly led the attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi.
Besides other cranky curmudgeons watching Fox News, does anybody really care what Dick Cheney thinks? His former boss sure doesn’t.
In the documentary, “The World According to Dick Cheney,” we learned Dubya barely spoke to his vice president by the end of his second term.
Bush must have finally realized Cheney didn’t know what he was talking about.
Kevin Foley is an author, writer and public relations executive who lives in Kennesaw.