I first heard about Dick Cheney 44 years ago when he was named chief of staff for then-President Gerald Ford.
Some four and a half decades later, he has retired from one of the most interesting and influential political careers of any person in the country.
Today, the Jackson-based author maintains a quiet existence as he travels Wyoming with his granddaughter’s horse competition efforts. He also appears at events such as Lander’s One Shot Antelope Hunt, where he competed in 2016.
Politically, he helped his daughter Liz Cheney get elected to the state’s sole U.S. House of Representatives seat last fall, a post that he ran for and won back in 1978.
But despite his most recent attempts at obscurity, a movie about his life will soon burst onto the national and international scene next fall that should be a blockbuster.
Called Backseat, its creator Adam McKay says Cheney is arguably “the single most powerful political figure in modern American history.” Wow. Pretty big description for a young guy who grew up in Casper.
McKay has signed big movie stars to play people we all know. Christian Bale will play Cheney and Amy Adams will play Lynne Cheney. Steve Carell will play former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Tyler Perry is playing Colin Powell.
Actor Bill Pullman plays Nelson Rockefeller. Sam Rockwell plays George W. Bush. Alison Pill plays Mary Cheney and Lily Rabe plays Liz Cheney.
Some photos from Variety Magazine show amazing transformations as Bale and Adams modified their appearances into Dick and Lynne. It is always a challenge to play living people who have been in the public light in recent years but going by what these photos show, they are on the mark.
Director McKay says he has always been interested in the former Veep.
“I’ve always found Cheney fascinating,” McKay told the publication Deadline. “Questions of what drove him, what his beliefs were, but once we started digging, I was astounded at how much he had shaped modern America’s place in the world and how shocking the methods were by which he gained his power.”
The Deadline article continued: “While new Vice President Mike Pence has cited Cheney as a role model, Cheney has always been a polarizing figure and a lightning rod for controversy for his role in expanding the powers of the presidency while he served eight years as No. 2 to President George W. Bush.
“Among his initiatives was to press the war on global terrorism post-9/11, with tactics that ranged from spying to invading Afghanistan and then Iraq – the latter based on Intel that Saddam Hussein had procured weapons of mass destruction and was aligned to al-Qaeda, assertions that were considered shaky at the time and were never substantively proven — and the establishment of techniques including waterboarding as part of an ‘enhanced interrogation program’ that many called torture against suspected terrorists held in Guantanamo without access to due process. Cheney previously served in the Nixon, Ford and George H.W. Bush administrations, before he became Halliburton chairman and CEO, and then joined the Republican ticket alongside Bush.”
The article concluded: “Cheney was a study in contradictions: a war hawk who himself received five deferments that kept him from fighting in Vietnam. And while the Bush administration did not support gay marriage, Cheney personally went against the grain, perhaps swayed by the fact that his daughter was openly gay. Cheney’s approval rating was down to 13 percent when he left office, and he has long been a critic of the foreign policy of his former boss’ successor, President Barack Obama.”
An earlier movie called W. by director Oliver Stone also showed Cheney in his role in the George W. Bush administration. Richard Dreyfuss played Cheney in that 2008 movie.
As a long-time Wyoming newspaper editor, I had a lot of conversations with Cheney when he was our U.S. Representative. I always found him personable, knowledgeable and well intentioned. I thought he did a wonderful job of representing the state.
We were proud of his role in the U. S. House and very proud of him as Secretary of Defense, especially during the first Iraq War.
And like most Wyomingites, we were beaming with pride when he was elected Vice-President.
His role in getting the country involved in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has left him a checkered national legacy. I always felt that most elected officials in his position during the 9/11 attacks would have pushed for such wars.