One of the big liberal knocks on George W. Bush has always been that, as president, he was essentially Dick Cheney's puppet.
But according to this fascinating piece in today's Washington Post, Bush's obedience to Cheney may have been greatly overstated--especially in his second term, and much to Cheney's regret:
Cheney's disappointment with the former president surfaced recently in one of the informal conversations he is holding to discuss [his upcoming memoir] with authors, diplomats, policy experts and past colleagues. By habit, he listens more than he talks, but Cheney broke form when asked about his regrets."In the second term, he felt Bush was moving away from him," said a participant in the recent gathering, describing Cheney's reply. "He said Bush was shackled by the public reaction and the criticism he took. Bush was more malleable to that. The implication was that Bush had gone soft on him, or rather Bush had hardened against Cheney's advice. He'd showed an independence that Cheney didn't see coming. It was clear that Cheney's doctrine was cast-iron strength at all times -- never apologize, never explain -- and Bush moved toward the conciliatory."
As a friend of mine notes, this raises an interesting question: might the same liberals who reviled Bush eventually end up grateful to Bush for having the guts not to do Cheney's bidding?
I haven't found a projected publication date for Cheney's memoir yet. But given Cheney's willingness to publicly rip Bush, it sounds like it's going to be a must-read, whatever your political orientation.