Autobiographies are, by definition, self-serving; and this one is not likely to break the mold as his ghost-writer is said to be his eldest daughter Liz Cheney. [The New York Times account of this development is here
Perhaps I'm the wrong person to make too much of the nepotism angle, as last year, my father Lou Cannon and I wrote Reagan's Disciple
, a book comparing the presidency of George W. Bush to that of Ronald Reagan. I think it's safe to say that the 40th
president of the United States comes across more favorably in that book than the 43rd
and that includes his sidekick.
During Bush's first term, however, my father and I toyed with the idea of writing a Cheney biography together. He was a public official we'd both covered off-and-on for decades, and there was a lot more to his life than the vice presidency. At the time, President Bush's job approval rating was quite high, and the taciturn Cheney was content (or so we thought) playing Tonto to Dubya's Lone Ranger. This wouldn't have been an as-told-to book, or even an official biography, but we certainly hoped to interview him for it. So at a Christmas Party one year, I gingerly broached the subject with Cheney.
"A book about me?" he asked with a skeptical shrug.
"Yes," I said.
"Who'd read it?" he replied.
Well, that was then and this is now. For a $2 million advance from a Simon & Schuster imprint, and his reputation having taken some serious hits, Cheney must hope that a lot of people would read it. And he's competing with a growing library of other Cheney books: Conservative writer Stephen Hayes penned a friendly treatment in Cheney: The Untold Story of America's Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President
. Gettysburg College political scientist Shirley Anne Warshaw paints a much darker view of the former vice president's influence in The Co-Presidency of Bush and Cheney
, and Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman has perhaps the most complete look at Cheney's eight years as the second-in-command in Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency
, a book documenting the lengths to which Cheney sought to increase the power of the executive branch – including the vice presidency – to a point certainly not contemplated by the Founders. Apparently that will not be the last word on Richard B. Cheney.