National News

Cheney talks about past, future for Obama, Republicans

Posted December 21, 2008

— Joe Biden soon will succeed Dick Cheney as vice president. So does Cheney have any advice for Biden?

Not really, it seems. Cheney says Biden hasn't asked for any advice.

Biden has called Cheney "the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history" and said he can't name a single good thing that Cheney has done.

And for his part, Cheney said that he doesn't think Barack Obama will give Biden as consequential a role as Cheney had under President George W. Bush.

Cheney did an interview on "Fox News Sunday" and aired his views on the Bush administration's legacy and the future facing both President-elect Obama and the Republican Party.

There is one major figure from the past that Cheney said he would like to see: Osama bin Laden, alive and captured.

Cheney saysn that capturing bin Laden is something the Bush administration "clearly would love to do" in the last few weeks in office. The al-Qaida leader has eluded capture since the Sept. 11 attacks, and Cheney said he guesses bin Laden is still alive.

Cheney says he and Bush would have preferred to have gotten bin Laden right after the 2001 attacks. But Cheney says the U.S. has made progress in undermining the al-Qaida network – and succeeded in forcing bin Laden to hide in such a way that it's questionable whether he is even running the terrorist operation any more.

Cheney also defended the expansion of government powers during the fight against terrorism, saying they were part of the president's constitutional powers to defend the country.

The vice-president said that Abraham Lincoln, in the Civil War, and Franklin Roosevelt, in World War II, went far beyond what the Bush administration has done. The Bush administration has been criticized for its policies on detainees, terrorist surveillance and intelligence gathering.

For the incoming Obama administration, the economic crisis will be its biggest challenge – and shoring up the auto industry will be the first hurdle the new president must clear, Cheney said.

Cheney said that Bush has done his best to manage the auto-industry crisis, but since the president has less than a month left in office, it will be up to Obama's team to come up with a long-term solution.

On Friday, Bush ordered an emergency bailout of the industry by offering $17.4 billion in loans. The aid comes with tough concessions from the carmakers and their workers.

The vice president said that although there is a general concern n the country that some big government action is needed to revive the economy, he couldn't judge the economic-stimulus plan being considered by Obama.

Cheney says he needs to see details of the plan to say whether it's a good way to spend money. But he says he generally favors tax cuts as a way to help the economy.

Obama's team and congressional staff have been working on details of a plan to pump up the economy with $650 billion or more in government spending over the next few years. Some of the president-elect's aides think the plan could grow to $850 billion after negotiations with Congress.

As for his Republican party, Cheney said, it will rebound from this year's electoral defeats but only going through a political cycle like that in the 1970s. After Watergate, Republicans lost the White House, but President Jimmy Carter got only one term before losing to Republican Ronald Reagan.

Cheney said that he doesn't know if Sarah Palin, the Alaska governor who was John McCain's running mate, will be the candidate to lead the comeback. She would have to "earn" the Republican nomination for president in 2012, like any other candidate, Cheney said.

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