Inside the Cheney Family's Fight Against History

Liz and Dick strive for a legacy

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When Vice President Dick Cheney left office over a year ago, he was hardly popular. Since then, the former veep has taken his trademark sneer on a non-stop media tour, relentlessly hammering President Obama and the Democrats on issues of national security. Cheney's poll numbers have since risen, but he has yet to secure a legacy beyond his less-than-beloved tenure in the White House. Enter Liz Cheney, his 43 year-old daughter. Joining with William Kristol to form the hardline-conservative, national-security advocacy group Keep America Safe, Liz Cheney has gone where few else dared. Her latest ad campaign, accusing Department of Justice lawyers of being loyal to al-Qaeda, has sparked a firestorm. But is Liz Cheney's media campaign really about criticizing President Obama? Or is it a concerted Cheney family effort to replace the tarnished Cheney name with something more enduring?

  • Liz Is Dick's Legacy Plan  New York Magazine's Joe Hagan meticulously explores the Cheney family "in exile." He writes, "When Dick Cheney left office in January 2009, it appeared he’d lost the historical argument." That's why Liz Cheney is on a mission for her father.
She has spent nearly every day since her father’s departure from the White House attempting to extricate him from the jaws of infamy by turning current events into a referendum on his policies. Casting herself as his defense lawyer, she has appeared on television 40-odd times in the last year. And she’s conducting the research for a Dick Cheney memoir, a book she persuaded her father to write.
  • Why Liz Does It  The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan earnestly tries to understand. "Just as so many of Cheney's friends don't know what happened to Dick, I must say I feel the same way about Liz, whom I have known as an acquaintance for fifteen years. Obviously, defending her father must be the overwhelming impulse," he writes. "I do not blame her for loving her dad, and wanting to defend him. But a loving dad would not allow his daughter to behave this way, to tarnish herself so indelibly in the defense of the indefensible."
  • The Legal Cover Theory  Liberal blogger Marcy Wheeler suspects Liz Cheney's "constant press assault might be about legal liability for war crimes rather than political legacy." Even Dick Cheney "has talked about statutes of limitation expiring on events he would write about in his memoir."
  • Liz and Dick are Indistinguishable  BuzzFlash's Bill Berkowitz seethes, "To their credit, I suppose, Dick and Lynne Cheney have always been what they’ve always been; ideologically consistent political bullies, and rhetorical thugs. They’ve never tried to re-brand themselves. [...] Whether fighting for her father’s legacy, helping him prepare his memoir, getting ready for her next television appearance or speech before a conservative audience, or on the cusp of launching her own political career, it is apparent that Liz Cheney has not, and will not, stray far from the family tree."
  • Media Fawns Over Nepotism  Daily Kos' Susan Gardner says of Liz Cheney's rise, "perhaps the most disturbing bits are not about Cheney at all, but rather about the current state of the Village, and the press that waits upon m'lords and ladies." Gardner notes the close relationships the Cheneys have established with Politico and NBC, with which they talk regularly. Why, after all, has Liz Cheney made 40 media appearances in a year? Is what she has to say really that important, or is it just about who she's related to? "This idea that the national press corps can cozy up to sources or people in power they cover during afternoon soccer games or over Saturday night dinners, then turn around and hold their feet to the fire is ridiculous."
  • The Sins Of The Father  Liz is repeating them all, says America Magazine's Michael Sean Winters. "Shame on Liz Cheney. Of course, we know where she got it," he writes. "Mr. Cheney will go down in history as one of the most sinister men to ever hold office in the United States and it appears his daughter wishes to join him in the annals of political shame."
One of the new ideas that Dick Cheney's trying to sell right now is his daughter, Steve. He reminds me of that Marlon Brando character in, in Superman up on Krypton. The island is about to, the planet is about to blow up. So he puts his little kid, in this case Superman, into a little capsule and sends him to Earth.  It's like Cheney knows his whole world is blowing up, so he's put his little daughter in this capsule and is sending her to us. It just seems like he's spending all his time, it's kind of like a booster rocket, building one for his offspring. What's going on with this family?!
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