Interview with Vice-President Richard Cheney: July 2009

Cheney: We were protecting the country. We knew what we were doing. This crowd doesn't. We knew how to use power. They're totally out of control, as I said.
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The Historian (interviewer): Mr. Vice-President, you've now had six months to observe the new Democratic president and administration. Give us your views.

Cheney: They're totally out of control.

The Historian: Out of control? In what way?

Cheney: Pretty obvious. They're abusing power. They're operating totally outside the Constitution.

The Historian: Can you give some specifics?

Cheney: Of course. Yesterday the president issued a "signing statement" declaring his/her intention not to enforce Congressional restrictions on children's health care. That follows those other so-called "signing statements" that refuse to uphold the laws Congress passed on wiretap and surveillance of our enemies and on unlimited detention of enemy combatants.

The Historian: Forgive me, Mr. Vice-President, but didn't your administration make wholesale use of these "signing statements"?

Cheney: That, of course, was entirely different. We were protecting the country. Our country was under attack. We needed to unify executive authority to protect national security.

The Historian: But this administration has said it is merely continuing your theory of the "unitary executive," that you merely laid the groundwork for a new powerful executive.

Cheney: Big difference. We knew what we were doing. This crowd doesn't. We knew how to use power. They're totally out of control, as I said.

The Historian: With due respect, Mr. Vice President, your lawyers, particularly Mr. Addington and Mr. Yoo, said that the Constitution permitted aggregation of power in the presidency, that anything not specifically denied by the Constitution could be done by the president and his administration and neither the Congress nor the Courts could do anything about it.

Cheney: Look. Don't try to twist things. That was then. This is now. Everything is different.

The Historian: Mr. Cheney, what is different is a new president and new administration.

Cheney: Are you seriously arguing that this crowd is entitled to the same powers we had?

The Historian: Seems only fair. The precedent.....

Cheney: We created no precedent. Our lawyers laid down theories that applied to us, not to every liberal, lefty administration that manages to get elected Besides, the Supreme Court is going to fix this. Heritage and AEI have filed suits against this liberal abuse of power and we have no doubt that the Court we empowered, Roberts and Alito and that other one, are going to crush this nonsense in its crib.

The Historian: Those other executive powers--ignoring regulatory mandates, financing military operations off-budget, search and seizure, suspending habeas corpus, covert operations in Iran, and many others--shouldn't they be available to this new administration?

Cheney: Are you kidding? I wouldn't trust this crowd with the keys to the White House restrooms.

The Historian: So, it seems to me you are saying that a "strong" president, one who can be trusted with extra-Constitutional powers, must automatically be a Republican.

Cheney: You still don't get it, do you? We've got our Constitutional weenies too. We're talking about a special kind of leader. Do want just anybody off the street having the powers we had? You only give those powers to serious neoconservatives, men who've experienced the battlefield, heroes who understand good and evil, trusted and tested patriots who understand what we're up against. You don't just hand out our authority to whatever politicians come along. [OK, I'm going off the record here. Understood. Turn that tape off. We're meeting. We're planning. Just like we did after '74. We're coming back. We have plans. Unlike those limp-wristed liberals, we are patient. Our hour will come. We'll be back. And when we are, you're going to see real power. Got it?]

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