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10 thoughts on “Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency

  1. Jay Jay says:

    A friend of mine - who actually remains a friend - recommended this book to me, and the local library had the unabridged audio book. Furthermore, Barton Gellman is a great journalist, and this book is an acclaimed piece of journalism and biography. Hey, I got through Jane Mayer's The Dark Side, right?

    It was like listening to the biography of a tarantula. I kept having to fight the urge to spray my brain with Raid. I struggled through 3 CDs until I became so angered and disturbed by the subject of this biography that I had to put it down. Nevertheless, as a lifelong student (inmate?) of American History, I feel compelled to suck it up, learn something and have an other whack at this. (I did learn how Cheney cynically gamed the vetting process for potential VP's for Bush II to his own advantage. I won't spoil the shock value of this particular escapade, but I will say you would not want to share any confidence with this man, and Dick is a fitting moniker.)


  2. Ray Ray says:

    This was an excellent book, based on Barton Gellman's Pulitzer Prize winning 2008 investigations and writings on National politics. As a Washington Post writer, Mr. Gellman had access to many in Cheney's inner circle and the Bush White House to put together this informative description of the Vice President's role in setting the tone and direction of the Administration. We've seen political cartoons over the past eight years with Dick Cheney as the ventriloquist, pulling the strings and putting words into the mouth of the Bush puppet sitting on his knee. A harsh depiction, perhaps, but as this book shows, there were some reasons for how that view became popular. How much of that stereotype was true, and how much was false was hard to know, until this book became available. This book answers a lot of those questions. It truly filled in a lot of gaps in the my understanding of the inner workings of the Bush Administration. Cheney had widely been reported to be the most powerful Vice President in American history. Few, if any, recent books explore the dynamics between the President and Vice President. Gellman does, and paints a clear picture of Cheney and his power, consistent with everything we've heard and read over these past eight years. The book also talks of other key members of Cheney's team, like David Addington, who was so central to many of the more unpopular and controversial initiatives of the Bush years. Gellman also points out some of the few in the Administration who were able to stand up to the powerful Cheney / Addington team such as Deputy Attorney General James Comey. (Comey was acting Attorney General who did not give in to the pressure from the White House to sign off on illegal spying when Ashcroft was hospitalized). If you're interested in understanding how Bush, who entered the Office as a Candidate envisioning policies such as compassionate Conservatism, limiting global-warming, being a Uniter, championing Education reform and limited government, and then seemed to evolve into one of the Nation's most unpopular chief executives, should find this book very interesting. As Steve Clemons in the American Conservative stated, this is an indispensable volume without which the Bush Presidency can't be understood.


  3. Paul Donahue Paul Donahue says:

    Hipsters and other types of partisan Democrats love the idea of Cheney as someone beyond a mere political adversary, but someone who truly embodies pure evil. There were times during the Bush administration that everyone must have been suspicious of such a characterization. Cheney did himself no favors by cloaking all his decisions, benign and otherwise, in a veil of secrecy and it certainly didn't help that he looks generally sinister anyway. Gellman's book peels back the cloak to reveal somewhat of a different picture than the Rachel Maddows of the world would have you believe. But only somewhat.

    Cheney is not evil. His secrets were not entirely based on the premise that they were morally and legally questionable and he didn't want you to discover them--though that certainly played a part. Cheney, more than anything else, was a brilliant policy mind who firmly believed in robust and unitary executive power. He did not adopt this view in 2001 to further his or Bush's ambitions, he has always believed it. That this view differs from the majority of the public, media, and other key players in DC made him a political adversary but does not by nature make him a bad person. His knowledge of the federal government and its sources of power enabled him like no other vice president to achieve his goals. His innovative interpretation of the vice presidency as an extension and not simply a representation of presidential power changed the world.

    People love to compare the Bush administration to Watergate, and there are striking similarities. But the key difference is that Nixon abused power for personal and political reasons. Cheney did not abuse power, he did not ignore laws; he reinterpreted them, and he did it for policy reasons, not evil or political. He took debates on things supposed to have only one objevtive answer--the law--and made them subjective, then used his intelligence and tools at his expense to win the subjective arguments. The very question of whether most of what he did was legal cannot be answered objectively--he changed the very merits by which we usually answer such a question.

    But he did go too far. He did lie, and in some cases he very well may have broken the law. If deliberately lying to the House Majority Leader about national security secrets to make a case for war constitutes breaking a law, then Cheney broke it. When the Framers laid out our government, they might have been proud to know the chains and traps they included kept the chief executive of an evolving and expanding nation in check for over two hundred years. And they might have been terrified of just how far Dick Cheney was able to extend his reach. It is Dick Cheney who James Madison had in mind when writing the Federalist papers in favor of restrained executive power.

    Perhaps the most intriguing part of all was that Cheney was able to do this as Vice President, an office literally intended to be an idle housekeeping and placekeeping position. Yet it seems unlikely that Cheney could've done what he did as President, where the tools of secrecy and back channels may not have been nearly as available to him.

    As a friend of mine said, you can't fully understand the first decade of the 21st century without knowing the history of the Cheney Vice Presidency.


  4. Michael Michael says:

    The author was a winner of the 2008 Pulitizer Prize. This book has the potential of making you mad, it did me. It focused on the full scope of Cheney's work and it's consequences, including going from al Qaeda to Iraq, spying on Americans, promoting torture, global warming, tax cuts for the wealthy, secret prisons, and how he operated politically in the White House. It's a great study of the Bush administration.


  5. emily emily says:

    Terrifying, fascinating. Cheney comes off as an X-men-level supervillain and always, always the smartest guy in the room. I think, more than anything, I was really struck by the effort Mr. Gellman (and, by extension, I guess, everyone he interviewed) goes to to point out that G.W.B. was less dumb (and less apathetic) than we thought. This, honestly, sort of shakes up my whole worldview, but it also makes Cheney all the more terrifying in that over and over again we see that even the White House had no idea what he was up to.

    (Also, worth reading the afterword in which we learn that Cheney himself rather enjoyed reading Angler.)


  6. marcali marcali says:

    add a crunchy top layer to the political casserole created by The Bush Tragedy, The Terror Presidency, Bush's Law and many many NYer articles.

    neat summary of these past eight Wonderland years:

    A three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit...said the classified files contained mere assertions, not evidence. When the government declared the intelligence reliable because in appeared in three different documents, the judges mocked that reasoning. The fact that the government has 'said it thrice' does not make an allegation true. See Lewis Carroll, The Hunting of the Snark 3 (1876) ('I have said it thrice: What I tell you three times is true.'). The Bush Administration comes perilously close to suggesting that whatever the government says must be treated as true, thus rendering superfluous both the role of the Tribunal and the role that Congress assigned to this court, the court wrote.


  7. Stephanie Stephanie says:

    Why am I reading this?!? Haven't I had enough of these scuzz bags? I read excerpts in the Washington Post before it came out in book form. Still... it's interesting to know that Cheney engineered copies of all emails sent to Bush by his cabinet to be sent to him, that Bush actually started out with a position on global warming before Cheney reversed course through some of his deft bureaucratic maneuvering. I'm blasting through this pretty quickly to get further exposure to the Dickster over with... but it's hard to undo all the tacky habits of living under the Dorky Duo...

    I'm a little ashamed.


  8. Jack Jack says:

    A petrifying view into the imperial vice presidency, with an amazing array of Washington insiders - many quoted by name for the first time. Gellman's research is prodigious, his access is amazing, and the sometimes previously unknown stories are often chilling.


  9. Marc Marc says:

    ''Cheney prepared his energy plan at the greatest possible distance from public view. Before starting to work, he directed David Addington, his general counsel, to devise a structure that would leave the task force beyond the reach of the Federal Advisory Committee Act. That was the open-government law that gave so much grief to Hillary Clinton in 1993, exposing the records of her health care task force to political attack. ''He was very critical at many points at the way in which he felt presidents would yield in giving up information,'' said Michael Malbin, a long-standing ally of Cheney on executive secrecy. Cheney decided to ''put down a marker,'' and his task force was ''deliberately set up to be different'' from Clinton's''.

    A concise and comprehensive read about the consequential vice presidency of Dick Cheney.
    The book reminds me of Peter Baker's ''Days of Fire'' in its depth and quality. The author writes about Cheney in terms of issues that were relevant to him and the narrative is built around his tight circle of collaborators who helped him shape policies. It sheds a light on how the executive branch operates with the help of the Office of Legal Council. Surprisingly, Bush 43 is seldom discussed in the book. Only disappointment was the lack of background information about Cheney's life prior to 2000.


  10. Remo Remo says:

    This book provides an interesting perspective on how to take over the entire policy process in Washington. It is not a flattering book, and the author clearly is not a Cheney fan, but an interesting portrait of the former VP comes out anyway. VP Cheney offered to be President Bush’s “detail guy”, handling things the President didn’t want on his plate. The first step (after leading a search for a vice presidential candidate and rejecting all comers) was to be put in charge of the transition, during the contested recount. Cheney realized that “personnel is policy”, and advocated people of his choosing in lower level positions in departments’ policy shops so he could control the flow of policy recommendations bubbling up from the bureaucracy. Once the right people were in place he could shape how policy was formed from the bottom up, and control how it was decided on at the top. (Those people also provided valuable back-channel information to him.) He had his aides declared advisors to the President, allowing them to sit in on policy discussions at levels below him. Cheney himself sat in on Principal Committee meetings, which had never routinely occurred before. The President chairs these when he attends, but usually the National Security Advisor chairs for him. This gave Cheney a voice in the meetings, and because he routinely briefed the President privately it allowed him to advocate his positions outside the normal policy flow – exactly contrary to the way Cheney operated when he was White House Chief of Staff to President Ford.

    Cheney got office space on the House side because the House is where tax revenue (taxes) originates, so he could have a voice in tax policy. He sat in on numerous other meetings normally too low-level for a VP, then briefed the President and made recommendation. Cheney’s capacity for work was enormous, and his attention to detail phenomenal.

    Chapter 4, Energy in the Executive, provides a case study in how to manage an errant boss (on the topic of climate change). This chapter highlights the Cheney didn’t really care about politics, he cared about just doing what he thought was right. Other chapters go into a lot of detail on different cases Cheney weighed in on. The war on terror, torture, the clean air act, other environmental issues, taxes, the war in Iraq.

    A chapter that really addresses a different side of Cheney is Chapter 9, Demonstration Effect. I’m not sure the author wanted to show how deep Cheney was, how nuanced his world view, but it comes out anyway. The chapter looks at the beginning of the Iraq war, how Cheney pushed it and what he as trying to achieve. Cheney looked for pivot points and threshold questions. He took a long view, especially in international relations. “Can you modify regime behavior without regime change?” One person interviewed said he was able to process information faster than anybody else in the room. (Powell, Rice and Rumsfeld were in the room.) I doubt history will be kind to the former VP, but it is clear from this book that he was a brilliant man striving to do what he thought was best for the country. Unfortunately, it probably wasn’t.


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Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency [Download] ➵ Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency By Barton Gellman – Liversite.co.uk Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist Barton Gellman’s newsbreaking investigative journalism documents how Vice President Dick Cheney redefined the role of the American vice presidency, assuming unpreced Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist Barton Gellman’s Cheney Vice ePUB ↠ newsbreaking investigative journalism documents how Vice President Dick Cheney redefined the role Angler: The PDF \ of the American vice presidency, assuming unprecedented responsibilities and making it a post of historic powerDick Cheney changed The Cheney Vice Kindle Ð history, defining his times and shaping a White House as no vice president has before— yet concealing most of his work from public view Pulitzer Prizewinning Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman parts the curtains of secrecy to show how Cheney operated, why, and what he wroughtAngler, Gellman’s embargoed and highly explosive book, is a work of careful, concrete, and original reporting backed by hundreds of interviews with close Cheney allies as well as rivals, many speaking candidly on the record for the first time On the signature issues of war and peace, Angler takes readers behind the scenes as Cheney maneuvers for dominance on what he calls the iron issues from Iraq, Iran, and North Korea to executive supremacy, interrogation of Al Qaeda suspects, and domestic espionage Gellman explores the behindthe scenes story of Cheney’s tremendous influence on foreign policy, exposing how he misled the four ranking members of Congress with faulty intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, how he derailed Bush from venturing into Israeli Palestinian peace talks for nearly five years, and how his policy left North Korea and Iran free to make major advances in their nuclear programsDomestically, Gellman details Cheney’s role as “super Chief of Staff ”, enforcer of conservative orthodoxy; gatekeeper of Supreme Court nominees; referee of Cabinet turf; editor of tax and budget laws; and regulator in chief of the administration’s environment policy We watch as Cheney, the ultimate Washington insider, leverages his influence within the Bush administration in order to implement his policy goals Gellman’s discoveries will surprise even the most astute students of political scienceAbove all, Angler is a study of the inner workings of the Bush administration and the vice president’s central role as the administration’s canniest power player Gellman exposes the mechanics of Cheney’s largely successful postSeptembercampaign to win unchecked power for the commander in chief, and reflects upon, and perhaps changes, the legacy that Cheney—and the Bush administration as a whole—will leave as they exit office.