Mon. Sep 25th, 2023

Dick Cheney. (photo: Rose Palmisano/The Orange County Register/ZUMA)

Cheney is full of it when he says he doesn’t think about his legacy. Trying to rewrite history is all he has left

nlike his former boss Richard Nixon, Dick Cheney has never seemed to me like an especially interesting figure. In complete honesty, while I recognize him as one of the most influential and consequential politicians of my lifetime, I also find Cheney, or at least the version of him I experience through the media, to be rather dull. He’s clearly intelligent and strong-willed; but he’s also myopic and rigid. And despite having quit public office and decamped to Wyoming years ago, he still speaks in the pallid, clichéd and euphemistic language of the national security state bureaucracy, as if he never really left.

Due to his essential flatness, his basic lack of introspection and total absence of doubt, Cheney is not the kind of figure who, after a fall from grace, is usually described as tragic or Shakespearean. He’s more Iago than Macbeth. Yet as I read his lengthy interview with James Rosen in Playboy this week, the former vice president’s answers kept reminding me of one of the iconic lines from “Hamlet,” arguably Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy. During the conversation, he tells Rosen, as he’s told others before, that he does not regret his war crimes or care about how he’ll be judged by history. But as Queen Gertrude might say, Richard Bruce Cheney doth protest too much.

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