July 18, 2004

The mystical moment when change began...

It's a funny thing, the unintended consequences of things we do. For example, the postmodernist crowd has been harping on how dreadful Vice-President Cheney is. To listen to them, he's the second-coming of Grendel.

But the effect on me (and suspect many others) has been the opposite of what they hoped for. I've been inspired to find out more about him. And the more I find out, the more I like him, and the more impressed I am. (Thanks, guys!) He's been an important conservative figure since the Ford Administration, but I hardly knew it. The things I'm learning are not secrets, but not well-known either. Dick Cheney's the very model of a loyal team player, and so has never pushed himself into the limelight. He's never leaked his views to the press, or sought publicity.

So whaddya think, maybe the Cheney-haters are going to be the ones who save Cheney from undeserved obscurity! Ha ha.

I recommend this article, The Conservative Case for Cheney, by Stephen Moore & Jeffrey Bell:

...In virtually every one of this remarkable succession of roles, Cheney has been on the right flank of his milieu. As Ford's deputy chief of staff, he was listening to obscure supply-siders like USC professor Arthur Laffer and was one of a minority of Ford advisers who fruitlessly pushed tax-rate reduction. (When Laffer drew his famous curve on the dinner napkin, Cheney, along with chief of staff Donald Rumsfeld, was the audience.) In the House leadership of the 1980s, Cheney was the most relentless and best-informed advocate of the Reagan military buildup that helped win the Cold War. Under Bush I, he was the only member of the administration's top policy team who quietly disagreed with the decision to end the ground war after 100 hours and thus leave Saddam Hussein in power...
Leaving Saddam in power was a catastrophe. I'm utterly thrilled to learn that Cheney was opposed.

But it's the mention of Arthur Laffer that really makes my head spin. When great movements begin, it is a very human thing to embody those beginnings in a story, a myth. The dinner at the Washington Hotel restaurant, with Laffer drawing the Laffer Curve on a dinner napkin is one such. Not that it didn't happen, but somehow it has become "mythical," has become an oft-repeated tale (one that's rather variable and Rashomon-like), "the beginning," the mystical moment when change began. The first knights gathering at the Round Table.

I've read the story a number of times, yet Cheney wasn't in my memory as being present. Maybe he wasn't, perhaps he's been "painted in," like a knight who missed the Quest for the Grail, but is portrayed anyway. But probably I just forgot, because Dick Cheney seemed to me to be a minor figure, and Jude Wanniski and Rumsfeld are so colorful. But he wasn't a minor figure. He was there at the beginning, and he's still fighting the good fight.

The collectivists are correct to hate him. Not because their goofy conspiracy theories are true, but because Dick Cheney has worked openly (though not noisily) for decades as a leader in the battle to prevent their socialist kudzu from choking out all other life forms...

Posted by John Weidner at July 18, 2004 7:32 PM
Weblog by John Weidner