Vice President On The Collapse Of The Obama Foreign Policy

Former Vice President Dick Cheney joined me for a wide-ranging conversation about American foreign policy on today’s show, which including his sobering assessment that American likely faces another devastating attack on the homeland before this decade is out. He and his daughter Liz Cheney, former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State of Near Eastern Affairs and chair of the Iran Syria Policy and Operations Group have launched The Alliance for a Strong America to keep national security and defense issues front and center heading in 2014 and 2016:

The audio:


The transcript:

HH: Very pleased to have back as a special guest today, Vice President Richard Cheney, of course not just that, former Secretary of Defense, former chief of staff to the President, former member of the House, president of the Senate, husband of Lynne, father of Liz and Mary, grandpa, author of My Life. Welcome back, Mr. Vice President, always a pleasure to have you.

DC: Well, it’s good to talk to you, Hugh.

HH: I want to begin with an overview. I’ve got a lot to ask you about. The overview, though, is I think this is the foreign policy equivalent of a bridge collapse, or maybe many bridges collapsing in Iraq, al-Shabaab in Somalia, attacks in Kenya, Boko Haram in Nigeria, there were new abductions today, the Taliban attacked the Karachi Airport, killed 18 people. And now we’ve got Iraq falling apart. Am I not correct that this may be the low point of American foreign policy post-the disillusion of the Soviet Union, or at least since 9/11?

DC: Well, certainly since 9/11. Of course, we got hit here at home on 9/11, the worst attack on the homeland ever. But no, the thing that’s striking about it, and everybody’s sort of been focused in on Iraq, is how widespread this problem is. And one of the things I’ve always been amazed by is the extent to which this administration has gone out of its way to claim the problem was solved because they got bin Laden, or they keep talking about al Qaeda’s been decimated, the only thing left is Zawahiri, and he’s on his last legs kind of thing, when in reality, both from a factual standpoint as well as the anecdotal stuff you’ve just cited, it’s a bigger problem than ever. I don’t know if you saw the Rand study that came out here a couple of weeks ago that said in the four year period of time there had been a 58% increase in the number of al Qaeda type organizations out there, Salafi jihadist organizations. 58% in only four years, and a doubling of the number of people, an estimate, obviously, doubling of the number of people that are involved in these organizations. And they’re all like al Qaeda in terms of their basic outlook, their goals and objectives and so forth. And the administration has been wandering around saying that we don’t have a terrorist problem.

HH: I was listening earlier today when you and Liz Cheney were on with Rush. And she pointed out that ISIS is now the richest terrorist organization in history. And earlier today, the Wall Street Journal noted they’ve taken control, or almost control, of the military airport near Tal Afar. Do you have any idea, Mr. Vice President, what sort of assets they are gaining control of and whether or not they have the sophistication to deploy them? Because surely Jerusalem’s getting nervous, if not Baghdad.

DC: Well, they’re, we know that one of the individuals, I’m trying to think of his name now, is it al-Baghdadi?

HH: Yeah, al-Baghdadi saying he’d come to here?

DC: Yeah, that he for a while was held by us in Afghanistan, or Iraq, but he’d actually been in custody for a period of time. They had morphed, to some extent, and that they’re taking on more of the trappings of a more conventional sort of military force. I don’t think they’re all that sophisticated in terms of capabilities. I know they’ve captured some of our helicopters. No evidence they’re flying them at this point, but they clearly are moving sort of above and beyond where al Qaeda was. They have the same objective of wanting to create a caliphate, recreate what they had in the 7th Century, but they’ve been very successful to date, both operating in Syria, but then also operating down in Iraq. And they are, their long term goal and objective appears very much to be that of driving the U.S. out of the Middle East. That’s very high on their list of priorities. And remember, that was Osama bin Laden’s objective when he came here and hit us on 9/11, to drive the U.S. out of the Middle East. Obama’s policies, in effect, have been taking us in that direction.

HH: This morning in the New York Times, Thomas Erdbrink reported that there’s a split among the Shia between Grand Ayatollah Sistani and Sadr. Should Sadr have been captured or killed? This is hindsight’s 100%, I know that, Mr. Vice President, but a mistake to leave him operational in the early days of the invasion and occupation?

DC: Well, there was, he was a problem from the beginning, if I can put it in those terms. And there was a point at which you may remember Maliki pulled together elements of the Iraqi Armed Forces and actually marched on Basra.

HH: Right.

DC: …and delivered a pretty serious blow to some of the Shia militia down there. Sadr is not nearly the respected figure that Ayatollah Sistani is. Sistani is a remarkable figure, even for non-Muslims, in the sense he’s somebody that from time to time we had contact with, but he was careful not to get too close to any of the political types, including the U.S. But when he called, just within the last couple of days for Maliki’s ouster, or for Maliki to step down, that is very, very significant, and he’s a figure, because of his stature and moral character, and the fact that Shia all over Iraq, some of them in Iran, up to Lebanon, follow him like Catholics follow the Pope.

HH: One of the names mentioned as a Maliki replacement is the never far from the middle of the stage Chalabi. I mean, what would you think of his coming back for the 18th time? He’d have more comebacks than Brett Favre.

DC: Well, I don’t know about that. I’ve met him a few times. I don’t know him that well. A lot of people look on him as a bit of an opportunist, always, you know, around, eager to insert himself into a situation. He was fairly active in the opposition to Saddam before we went in, one of the ex-patriots. I don’t know him well enough to be able to determine whether or not he’d be a positive force. A lot of people are very critical of the way he’d operated in the past.

HH: Another New York Times piece this morning by Michael Gordon and C.J. Chivers was talking about the Kurds. And Masoud Barzani, who’s the Kurdish president, told Secretary of State Kerry today, “We are facing a new reality and a new Iraq.” And that sounds like autonomy morphing into independence to me. Do you think we ought to put more chips on an independent Kurdistan, Mr. Vice President?

DC: Well, I’m big on the Kurds. They’ve been great friends for us over the years. They were back when we did Desert Storm, and again the last time around. They did good work against Saddam’s forces. There’s a lot of history there, obviously. You’ve got Kurds in Turkey, Kurds in Northern Iraq, Kurds in Northern Iran. And when you start to talk about an independent Kurdish entity there, it usually creates problems in the neighboring states, because they all have minority Kurd populations. And the Turks automatically, as presumably the Iranians do, but automatically react with concern out of the sense that part of their territory might be spun off, so to speak, and made part of this greater Kurdistan. So I’m not sure that you want to be in a position where you’re advocating that. In the past, the Kurds have done, as I say, good work with us, and I know for a fact, on my last trip up there, they were about as pro-American a group as you’re going to find in that part of the world.

HH: Now Mr. Vice President, a narrative is developing. That’s, you know, the new hot term, narrative, and it was articulated almost in perfect pitch by Dexter Filkins in the New Yorker. He’s a fine reporter. He’s a friend of the show. And I think along with Rajiv Chandrasekaran and John Burns and a handful of others, he’s a very serious student of the war. But he does perfectly reflect sort of Manhattan-Beltway media elite frozen wisdom when he writes about the war. And I’d like to trot out some of his conclusions and get your reaction to it. The first thing he wrote was that President Obama won the White House in part by promising to end the war in Iraq. And since then, he placed his faith in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to help him do so. It was Maliki who would hold together the state the Americans had helped build. Obama had correctly judged the war in Iraq to be a catastrophe. But placing his confidence in Maliki required no small exertion of faith. What do you make of that assessment? I don’t think it was a catastrophe, but what do you think?

DC: Well, I don’t think it was a catastrophe. I guess the point that I would add that’s missing there is that in fact when Obama came in, Iraq was in relatively good shape. You know, by then, we’d had done two years of the surge with great success. We’d had the awakening out in al-Anbar Province, the Sunnis had signed on and were actually fighting alongside our guys. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had been taken down, and the surge worked. And that was a widely-held view. Even Obama made statements to that effect as late as 2011. So I think, I always like to insert that in there, because I think it is very important. And while certainly, you know, the Iraq operation was a tough one, it went on longer than we thought it would, but in the final analysis, what was left for the Obama administration to do was to get that SOFA agreement, that status of forces agreement, and leave behind enough of a U.S. force so that we could help the Iraqis help themselves, and maintain their sovereign territory and develop and operate a respectable security force. Part of what happened here that’s not mentioned in that is that when it came time to put together the security force, our military out at the Pentagon recommended 20,000 troops. The White House rejected that. So they went back and said well, okay, we’ll try to do it with 10,000 troops. The White House rejected that. What they finally ended up with was somewhere around 3,000-4,000, much smaller than what our guys thought was necessary in order to provide the intelligence and some of the air support and the training, the kinds of continued capabilities that the Iraqis would have needed. And that in turn precipitated or led to the ultimate breakdown. There were no talks. There was no agreement reach. And I think as a direct result of that, after two and a half years with no U.S. military presence, when the Iraqi forces were faced with the ISIS crowd coming in from Syria, they all dropped their weapons and fled.

HH: There’s a whole lot of history erasing going on in the last week. I want to play for you a couple of clips, one of former Secretary of State Clinton, and one of the President, on this status of forces agreement. Here is Hillary talking to Christiane Amanpour last week, cut number one.

HRC: Let me just give a little bit of history. Not too much, cut context. When President Bush decided before President Obama became president that we would leave Iraq in 2011, the United States would end its combat mission unless the Iraqi government agreed to ask us to stay under the same conditions that we have all around the world. It’s called a status of forces agreement. I was involved in a lot of the efforts to come up with what our offer would be, and we made such an offer to then-Prime Minister Maliki. And he would not accept the status of forces agreement. Some now say well, you should have made him, or you should have…but that’s not the way it works. I mean, you have to, if you’re going to have American troops in harm’s way, and we knew Iraq would be quite dangerous for a long time, unpredictable at the very least, you have to have the host government, in this case, Iraq, say okay, here’s what we want, we’re signing this agreement, which will protect American soldiers. We didn’t get that done. And I think in retrospect, that was a mistake by the Iraqi government.

HH: And here is what President Obama said a day later.

BO: Well, keep in mind, that wasn’t a decision made by me. That was a decision made by the Iraqi government. We offered a modest residual force to help continue to train and advise Iraqi Security Forces. We had a core requirement which we require in any situation where we have U.S. troops overseas, and that is that they are provided immunity since they are being invited by the sovereign government there, so that if, for example, they end up acting in self-defense, if they are attacked and find themselves in a tough situation, that they’re not somehow hauled before an Iraqi court.

HH: So Vice President Cheney, they’re both saying it was Maliki’s fault. What’s missing from this narrative?

DC: Well, you can get, I’m sure, different explanations. I think it’s important to understand that this is not an atypical kind of reaction, or a political problem that you nearly always encounter in these agreements, because the host country’s leader always wants to be seen as standing up to the sovereignty of the host country. But we have 40 of these agreements around the country, around the world. And what you have to do is stick at it. It takes some negotiations. But I don’t think they were serious about it, for a couple of reasons. One suggestion I’ve heard is that by the time the White House got through cutting the force down to 3,000 from the original 20,000 that our generals thought we needed, they didn’t believe that Obama was serious anymore. Secondly, that they were insisting, that is the Obama administration, was insisting that they take the matter, that Maliki take the matter before his parliament for approval. Well, you don’t have to do that, from our standpoint. And I think Maliki in part was fearful that if you did that, and at the same time, he’s taking what many consider to be an inadequate force, that that would be a big political loser for him. So I’d approach is with a grain of salt. And what they don’t say is they’ve done, repeatedly in the past, is whatever our military wants, the White House automatically cuts in half.

HH: There’s also this…

DC: The guys that need to be trusted in terms of what’s required, and that is our troops, and my guess is, my personal view of it is that Barack Obama didn’t want to have anything to do with Iraq, that he campaign against getting all the forces out. And the idea that he would leave ten or fifteen or twenty thousand behind, he felt, was inconsistent with his campaign promises. And so we ended up with nothing.

HH: In fact, that is confirmed by an exchange many have overlooked between Governor Romney and President Obama in one of their debates. Let’s play that, cut number five, please:

MR: Number two, with regards to Iraq, you and I agreed, I believe, that there should have been a status of forces agreement.

BO: That’s not true.

MR: Did you…oh, you didn’t. You didn’t want a status of forces agreement?

BO: NO, what I would not have done is left 10,000 troops in Iraq that would tie us down, and that certainly would not help us in the Middle East.

HH: Now Mr. Vice President, that sort of thing is vital to understanding what happened. But it is very rarely reported, just as it’s very rarely reported that as an effect of the Iraqi invasion, Libya gave up its weapons of mass destruction program, thank God, before that country fell apart. I don’t know how the country ever figures out how to conduct a long term foreign policy if the narrative is always being shaped by a media that is a participant on one side.

DC: No, that’s a problem. It’s also…emphasizes how important leadership is. And you know, when you have to commit troops, send military forces in harm’s way, it’s one of the toughest decisions that any president ever makes. I’ve worked closed enough with three of them to watch them actually have to do that. As Secretary of Defense, of course, I had to actually execute the order for Desert Storm, sign every single deployment order before we sent any units overseas. And I understand the burden, and I’ve shared it, to some extent, although the president obviously is the ultimate authority here. But the key is to get the American people to support difficult things. And military action and wars are always very difficult. And you need strong leadership, somebody who will stand up and say this is what we’re going to do, and this is why we’re going to do it. And of course, what Barack Obama has been standing up doing, saying is we’re getting out of the Middle East. We’ve gone to zero now in Iraq. He announced just a couple of weeks ago that he’s going to go to zero in Afghanistan in 2016. That makes absolutely no sense at all. In fact, you’re almost implementing Osama bin Laden’s desires. That’s why he attacked us on 9/11. He said it was because he wanted to drive us out of the region. Obama is in fact taking us in that direction. And one of the results of that, of course, is with a big vacuum there, we’ve now seen a move by radical elements of jihadis in greater numbers than ever before, over a wider area of terrain than ever before..

HH :We are also talking on a day, it’s an unusual day to be talking, because the Department of Justice, was, released today a 41 page memo arguing why it is acceptable to use drone strikes on United States citizens. Bottom line, if that person poses an immediate and continuing threat to the U.S. people or interests, and cannot otherwise be detained, we can drone him. And it’s the ultimate sanction. I don’t see a lot of people noticing that that is actually much worse than enhanced interrogation techniques. Do you think it’s possible to coherently accept killing by drones, but to be opposed to enhanced interrogation, Mr. Vice President?

DC: Well, I supported enhanced interrogation, and a strong supporter of it, and backed it from the very beginning when we got it set up. I think the president of the United States needs to have the authority, and I don’t have any authority with the proposition that he has the authority as commander-in-chief, especially when it’s backed up by a resolution of the Congress authorizing the use of military force against al Qaeda to make those decisions about American citizens overseas, if in fact they are functioning as part of a terrorist group or supporting a terrorist operation. I think that kind of authority, by my lights, is acceptable and consistent with our Constitution.

HH: I agree. I just think it’s a lesser included authority to be able to use enhanced interrogation techniques as well.

DC: Right.

HH: If you can drone, you can waterboard, in Hugh Hewitt’s world.

DC: I would think if you ask the average individual which he’d rather be, waterboarded or hit with a 500 pounder, would probably, you can predict the outcome.

HH: You bet. Now I want to turn to domestic politics if I can. Rand Paul is a respected and rising star in the Republican Party. And he had this to say on Meet the Press this past weekend, and referring, in fact, to you. Cut number six:

RP: I think the same questions could be asked of those who supported the Iraq war. You know, were they right in their predictions? Were there weapons of mass destruction there? That’s what the war was sold on. Was democracy easily achievable? Was the war won in 2005 when many of these people said it was won? They didn’t really, I think, understand the civil war that would break out. And what’s going on now, I don’t blame on President Obama. Has he really got the solution? Maybe there is no solution. But I do blame the Iraq war on the chaos that is in the Middle East. I also blame those who are for the Iraq war for emboldening Iran. These are the same people now who are petrified of what Iran may become, and I understand some of their worry.

DG: You’re not a Dick Cheney Republican when it comes to American power in the Middle East?

RP: What I would say is that the war emboldened Iran. Iran is much more of a threat because of the Iraq war than they were before. Before, there was a stand-off between Sunnis and Shiites. Now, there is Iranian hegemony throughout the region.

HH: Vice President Cheney, your reaction?

DC: My reaction to which part of that?

HH: Well, there was a lot of part of it. One, that I don’t know that Senator Paul truly grasps the nature of the Iranian regime back to 1978, but the idea that Dick Cheney Republicans are interventionists, and Rand Paul Republicans are neo-isolationists.

DC: Well, I would certainly agree that Rand Paul, Senator Paul, seems to operate as an isolationist, and I’m clearly not one. I mean, we’re on opposite sides on that issue. My concern, one of my main concerns back when we did Iraq in ’03 was in fact the problem of terrorists armed with weapons of mass destruction. And we had an enormous amount of intelligence going back to the Clinton years. I remember the first intel brief I received after the election in 2000, I believe, was about Iraq and WMD. And there were 27 months after that of continuous reporting about Iraq and WMD. And so that was a legitimate concern for us. It turned out once we got in there that some of the intelligence was wrong, but it still was of great concern, and is of even greater concern now, in my view, if you look at what happened at Karachi here just recently, you mentioned the raid on the airport. And of course, the Pakistanis have somewhere between 50 and 100 nuclear weapons. If there’s a place now, if you look at that part of the world, where you could get linkage between terrorists on the one hand, and nuclear weapons on the other, Pakistan comes immediately to mind. And they’ve got a large group of terrorists living inside their country.

HH: You know, it occurred to me when that happened, Mr. Vice President, they said raid on the airport. Is it possible that some of the WMD Pakistan controls is co-located with that airport?

DC: We don’t know. We don’t know where their stuff is. It’s under the control of the military, but AQ Khan, who helped build that capability and then later on was selling it to the Libyans, and others, AQ Khan has told the story publicly in the press that North Korea bribed senior Pakistani officials for the technology to enrich uranium for a bomb.

HH: Right.

DC: Now if they would sell that technology to the North Koreans, do you suppose that they would sell, actually, a weapon, or that their controls are loose enough that somebody could get their hands on a weapon? It’s a dangerous situation. It’s not the kind of secure profile we’d like to see or that we’re used to seeing when we think about the Russians as potential adversaries. It’s, you know, a state that has a significant terrorist population, and there’s evidence already that at least on one occasion, according to AQ Khan, in fact the Pakistanis were bribed into providing nuclear technology to North Korea, one of the worst terror-sponsoring states in the world.

HH: And as this unfolds, at the same time the PRC is engaging in confrontations with Philippines, with Vietnam and with Japan, and Abe is nobody’s pushover, do you think that our party, the Republican Party, is sufficiently attentive to the fact that our defenses are being hollowed out even as threats are rising not just in Iraq and al Qaedastan and Pakistan, but also in the Pacific?

DC: Yeah, I think weakness is provocative, and that’s what this administration has repeatedly demonstrated. We talked about them pulling out of the Middle East. We’ve also seen, I don’t know if you saw the announcement that we’re now going to size our forces based on the need to be able to fight one war at a time, not two. The two war strategy has always been a cornerstone of our military and strategic planning for decades. And they’ve just sort of threw that one out there. Now, we’re just going to be ready for one war, which of course provides a rationale then for them to go smaller than we are now. We’re going to have an army shortly here, if we stay on that path, where it’ll be smaller than the Army has been since before Pearl Harbor.

HH: Mr. Vice President, you’ve been around Republican politics a long time. Right now, the potential leadership of the party includes Paul Ryan, Rick Perry, Governors Jindal, Walker, Kasich. You’ve got Ted Cruz and Rubio and Santorum and Rand Paul out there, Chris Christie. Do any of these folks strike you as the commander-in-chief type?

DC: Well, I haven’t signed on with anybody, yet, Hugh. I haven’t written anybody off, yet, either, and I don’t think I ought to do that here today.

HH: Okay. You could make a little news if you did.

DC: I’m sure I could, but no, my, as I think about it, and I think about it a lot, one of the reasons Liz and I have set up with 501c4 called The Alliance For A Strong America is because we want to make certain that these issues of national security, the U.S. role in the world, the size of the U.S. military and so forth, that these are front and center going forward for our party. And when I sit down to make a decision about who I want to support in 2016 as a presidential candidate, that’s the first test I’ll apply, is this somebody who can be commander-in-chief, and understands that the world’s a much safer place when the U.S. is strong militarily, economically and politically, and where from time to time we use that strength to maintain the peace or to safeguard the lives of Americans. And somebody with an isolationist view, that is to say that we can hide behind our oceans and everything will be okay, doesn’t fit that test.

HH: To that end, some specifics on the Defense budget. I mean, Republicans do not control boht houses of the Congress, but we might come November. Do we need a full complement of F-35’s? What did you make about the A-10 decision? And what did you make about Secretary Hagel suggesting maybe we didn’t need 11 carriers, and we haven’t even got 11 right now?

DC: Well, I fundamentally disagree with all of those suggestions and developments. When I look at the Constitution and the oath that the president takes, the fact that he is the commander-in-chief, that is his first responsibility, that more than anything else. If he can’t keep the nation safe, he’s failed. And so when we get into a situation where we are dramatically reducing the Defense budget, spending more money on rapidly increasing food stamps, and dramatically cutting the Defense budget when we’ve got an Army with 40 brigades in it, but only four of them are combat ready, when we’re spending programs…the A-10 is an airplane that’s been around a long time. But it turns out to be a great tank killer. It’s got a Gatling gun that fires depleted uranium rounds in the nose. When we did Desert Storm here some years ago, we killed as many tanks with that A-10 as we did with any other weapon system. When you talk about reducing the carriers, one of the things you’ve got to think about is the industrial base. We don’t have a lot of yards around like we did in World War II were you could build aircraft carriers. We’re down to one. And if the workforce isn’t kept engage in that, if we don’t crank one out every so often, then we end up in a situation where you gradually lose the industrial base. We’re down to one yard now that can build submarines. When you talk about going to 11 carriers, we’ve always operated pretty much based on 12, because of the way the cycle works. It takes six months for a deployment, six months then at home to sort of rest up and get reorganized, and then six months to get ready to deploy again. And that allows us, or through those cycles like that, to maintain four carriers at sea at any one time sort of on a continuous basis. You’ve got to have more than just well, gee, maybe we don’t need as many aircraft carriers. I mean, I don’t know what you have to do to get through to these people that it’s a very dangerous world out there. It’s getting more dangerous. There are a hell of a lot more terrorists, a lot more sanctuaries and safe harbors, and a lot more would-be people who want to bomb the United States.

HH: Do you think we get through this decade without a massive attack on the homeland?

DC: I doubt it. I doubt it. I think there will be another attack. And next time, I think it’s likely to be far deadlier than the last one. You can just imagine what would happen…

HH: Yeah.

DC: …if somebody could smuggle a nuclear device, put it in a shipping container, and drive it down the Beltway outside of Washington, D.C.

HH: And do you, by the way, if that were to happen, do you see the government reconstituting? Because it would have to be military rule for a period of time at least.

DC: Well, there was, some years ago, a program called the continuity of government program. It was part of the Cold War strategy that we pursued here, and basically it involved having a government waiting, if you will, ready to go in the event of a nuclear attack on the United States, so that we could always maintain the Constitutional base of governmental authority. I was part of that program for several years, and a lot of it, I’m sure, is probably still classified. But it was very, very important, and we operated and actually trained under circumstances of how would we go about making, providing for a government to survive if you know, we’re having nuclear weapons from the Soviet Union falling all over the country.

HH: Now I know the Alliance For A Strong America will be better served if we have a Republican Senate, but let me turn to just finishing off with two political questions, one about the Senate, one about Hillary. You were the president of the Senate for eight years. And today, Thad Cochran may or may not survive. Others argue Lamar Alexander is, I think, a terrific Senator, is in trouble because they’re insufficiently combative. But this is really Reid’s game. I mean, I don’t know how we blame any Republican for the way the Senate has operated. Do you, Mr. Vice President?

DC: No, I think it’s totally Harry Reid. He’s the one that blocks the legislation coming to the floor. I hope like heck we get, in fact, take control of the Senate November 6th. I think it’s vital to begin to try to put the brakes on some of the stuff Obama will want to do his last two years in office. So there’s an awful lot riding on these elections.

HH: If the GOP does win a Senate majority, given the lawlessness of the President and the authoritarian nature of the Reid Senate, would Leader McConnell be justified, in your opinion, imposing an absolute blockade on any new judicial appointments, including Supreme Court appointments, just to even the scales over what’s happened over the last six years?

DC: Well, he’d certainly have control of what comes up on the floor. The majority leader decides what’s going to be debated. We also would have the power of the purse, presumably, if we could get organized well enough so that we could override a presidential veto. But we could always refuse to appropriate funds for various activities, or put limitations on the appropriations. So we’d have more leverage than we do now to try to stop some of the activities that this president wants to pursue. You know what he’s trying to do now with respect to his war on coal and coal-fired power plants and so forth, there ought to be ways, for example, to impose limitations on how EPA spends its money. Right now, what they’re doing is imposing by regulation what they couldn’t get through the Congress.

HH: How about specifically, though, saying no mas when it comes to Supreme Court appointments?

DC: Well, you’d have to decide in, in fact, that’s the direction you wanted to go in. Clearly, the Senate has to confirm any Supreme Court nominee. And I can certainly see a situation where the Senate might well decide they’re not going to move forward on confirming an appointment unless and until they get some key concession from the President.

HH: And a last question or two on Mrs. Clinton. Dorothy Rabinowitz in this morning’s Wall Street Journal points out that she has been acting with, “serene assurance” when confronted with any of the many questions about the foreign policy catastrophes on her watch, displaying what Rabinowitz called a “cheery puzzlement” that anyone would think that she had anything to do with anything over the last five years. What do you make of her book tour? And has it enhanced her credibility as a candidate for the Oval Office?

DC: Well, I haven’t read the book. It hasn’t gotten great reviews, I don’t think, from what I recall seeing. As somebody who’s been out there writing books and doing book tours myself, I don’t want to speak ill of someone who enjoys doing that. Is it the next step in a campaign for president? It looks like it. Whether or not she’ll actually run? I just don’t know.

HH: Well, she blamed the Syrian policy meltdown on the President, threw him under the bus, in fact, saying she would have done it differently. If you do run for president from the position of Secretary of State, how much right do you have to distance yourself from the decisions taken jointly with the President, Mr. Vice President?

DC: Well, she can clearly do anything she wants, obviously. It may not work. She may still find herself being held accountable for some of the policies she implemented, even if she now disagrees with them. I think she’d have some difficulty trying to absolve herself of any responsibility for the policies she carried out.

HH: Tough question. Last question. If Rand Paul were our nominee, and Hillary Clinton the Democrats’, who would Dick Cheney support?

DC: Well, I’ve always supported the nominee of my party, and I would expect to do so again.

HH: All right. Mr. Vice President, the Alliance For A Strong America is a great development. Is there a website? Are you URL’d up?

DC: Yes, we are. We’re up and running.

HH: And so I will go and Google that, and I look forward to supporting it, and having you and Liz back And thank you for the time today.

DC: Great. Okay.

End of interview.

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    Hugh Hewitt
  • Hugh Hewitt is a lawyer, law professor, and broadcast journalist. A proficient blogger, Hugh Hewitt has one of the most visited political blogs in the U.S.

Hugh Hewitt is a lawyer, law professor, and broadcast journalist. A proficient blogger, Hugh Hewitt has one of the most visited political blogs in the U.S.

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