In this fourth in a series of four, I start with a few quotes from John Dean about Dick Cheney, which John backs up with other details in his book, Conservatives without Conscience:
Cheney is an authoritarian dominator.
Dick Cheney is the most powerful vice president in American History.
Unlike prior vice presidents, Cheney and his people have often taken the lead on issues, with the White House Staff falling in line.
Bad judgement is Dick Cheney’s trademark.
The issue of Dick Cheney’s judgement must be raised because he is the catalyst, architect, and chief proponent of Bush’s authoritarian policies. In fact, Cheney’s authoritarian vice presidency has simply swallowed the presidency, and Cheney sought to take the office way beyond even Nixon’s imperial presidency ….
Rather than vetoing legislation …, the White House (read: Cheney and his staff) issues a brief [signing] statement giving its interpretation of the new law as it relates to presidential powers.
Cheney is the mind of this presidency, with Bush as its salesman.
Cheney is surely proof of the Peter Principle.
Cheney’s career reveals that it is marked by upward mobility and downward performance.
Family Background Cheney’s father, Richard Herbert Cheney a registered Democrat, worked as a soil conservation agent for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dick Cheney has a brother, Bob, and a sister, Susan. Dick met his future wife, Lynne Vincent, in high school at the age of 14. They were married in 1964 and now have two adult daughters, Elizabeth and Mary, and four grandchildren. Authoritarian Traits From John Dean, “the vice president is a classic Double High.” From John Dean, “Cheney, it appears, knows how to manipulate the president like a puppet, and handles his oversized ego by making him believe ideas or decisions are his own when, in fact, they are Cheney’s.” From John Dean, “Among the most troubling of the authoritarian and radical tactics being employed by Bush and Cheney are their politics of fear.” Josh Marshall, wrote a piece in the Washington Monthly called, “Vice Grip: Dick Cheney is a man of principles. Disastrous Principles.” In this piece, he stated:
- “… they have an extreme assurance in their own judgment about what is best for the country and how to achieve it [dominating]. “
- “If there are other groups (shareholders, voters, congressional committees) who agree with you, fine, you use them [exploitive, manipulative].”
- “Not since the Whiz Kids of the Kennedy-Johnson years has Washington been led by men of such insular self-assurance [highly self-righteous].”
Infamous Deeds From John Dean, “It was not George Bush who came up with the idea of imposing blanket secrecy on the executive branch when he and Cheney took over. It was not George Bush who conceived of the horrible – and in some cases actually evil – policies that typify this authoritarian presidency, such as detaining “enemy combatants” with no due process and contrary to international law. It was not George Bush who had the idea of using torture during interrogations, and removing restraints on the National Security Agency from collecting intelligence on Americans. These were the policies developed by Cheney and his staff, and sold to the president, and then imposed on many who subsequently objected to this authoritarian lawlessness. It was Dick Cheney and his mentor [read bully duo], Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who convinced Bush to go to war in Iraq ….” From John Dean, ” … the best thing Cheney did for Haliburton as Chairman and CEO was to step down and help them get no-bid contracts to rebuild Iraq and federal help with their asbestos claims liability.” Back in 1974, Dick Cheney, Antonin Scalia and Rumsfeld convinced President Ford to veto a bill that would have strengthened the 1966 Freedom of Information Act. He still refuses to lift the veil of secrecy on his White House Energy Task Force and he may have lied to Congress in the process. From USA Today, “Vice President Dick Cheney has lobbied Republican senators to allow an exemption [to the use of torture] for those [terrorists] held by the CIA ….”
John Dean had the following to say at the end of his book about the top office holders in our government:
Nixon for all his faults, had more of a conscience than Bush and Cheney. They cannot think of a mistake they have made since coming into office, and in doing so display self-righteousness far beyond Nixon’s. Bush and Cheney are Double High authoritarians, far above Nixon’s league.
What has driven Mr. Dean’s book is the realization that our government has become largely authoritarian. It is run by an array of authoritarian personalities – leaders who display all those traits I have listed – dominating, opposed to equality, desirous of personal power, amoral, intimidating and bullying; some are hedonistic, most are vengeful, pitiless, exploitive, manipulative, dishonest, cheaters, prejudiced, mean spirited, militant, nationalistic and two-faced.
They are able to do so because the growth of contemporary conservatism has generated countless millions of authoritarian followers ….
John goes on to quote Bob Altemeyer on the right-wing authoritarian followers that have helped elect the above leaders:
Probably about 20 to 25 percent of the adult American population is so right-wing authoritarian, so scared, so self-righteous, so ill-informed, and so dogmatic that nothing you can say or do will change their minds. They would march America into a dictatorship and probably feel that things had improved as a result. … And they are so submissive to their leaders that they will believe and do virtually anything they are told. They are not going to let up and they are not going away.
John Dean then concludes with, “… time has run out, and the next two or three national election cycles will define America in the twenty-first century … ”
In Failed Single Party Nations of the Past – Where Are We Going Now?, I summarized the conversion of another nation into a single party state of social dominators that was enabled by the “masses” of the right-wing authoritarian followers.