January 15, 2009
Tricky Dick, part deux
by Dennis Johnson
Famous Watergate snitch and sometime book author John Dean says he’s interested in writing a biography of Vice President Dick Cheney and he’s got some compelling reasons: For one thing, he’d like to understand how Cheney “all but single-handedly—without being impeached or imprisoned or seriously threatened with either—rebuilt the ‘Imperial Presidency’ (picking up where Ronald Reagan & Company left off).” For another, he’d like to examine his theory that “Cheney is the last of a dying breed of former Nixon aides and apologists who do not believe that the disgraced president set the standard for what should not be done, rather that he provided a ‘to do’ list legacy. To understand Richard Nixon, as I believe I do, is to appreciate that Cheney has carried Nixon’s political DNA into contemporary Republican politics and governing.” All well and good, but there are “problems confronting any Cheney biographer,” Dean says in a Daily Beast commentary: “All Cheney’s important records have surely vanished.” Cheney long refused to obey the Presidential Records Act against destroying records. “There have been photos of trucks from the ‘Mid-Atlantic Shredding Services’ coming and going to and from Cheney’s official residence at the Naval Observatory for years, so it is almost certain the good stuff is gone. In short, only Cheney can say what Cheney knew and did and why.” But Dean notes that the man who got even lower public opinion ratings than George W. Bush may indeed write his own book someday, although he’s always said he wouldn’t: “We’ll see,” he recently told ABC News.
Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives