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July 28, 2014

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A dynasty to duck

Dick Cheney and Mike Enzi are in a tiff over whether they’re fishing buddies.

Enzi, the conservative senator from Wyoming who’s trying to fend off a carpetbagger challenge from Liz Cheney, is lucky he wasn’t hunting buddies with the trigger-happy former vice president.

Then he might not be in the race at all.

One of the best things about the 2008 race was ushering out the incalculably destructive Dick Cheney. Except now, in 2013, he’s once more ominously omnipresent.

Even blessed with the gift of a stranger’s heart, and looking so much healthier, he’s still the same nasty bully.

He’s trying to bully Enzi in an attempt to help his daughter — who has never held elected office — muscle her way into the Senate by knocking off the popular three-term incumbent Republican.

Showing that bullying runs in the family, Lynne Cheney told old friend and former Republican Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson to “shut up” in an exchange tied to the contentious campaign, in which Simpson is supporting Enzi.

This is one dynasty we want to duck.

Dick Cheney is hawking a book he has written with his cardiologist, Dr. Jonathan Reiner, about his heart transplant at age 71. Calling it “a spiritual experience,” he told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos: “I wake up every morning literally with a smile on my face, grateful for another day I never thought I’d see.”

Yet even in this blissed-out state, he still can’t emulate the respectful restraint of his former partner, George W. Bush. He grabs every opportunity to snarl at President Barack Obama, who is still mopping up from the Bush-Cheney misrule, as does his mini-me.

“Obstructing President Obama’s policies and his agenda isn’t actually obstruction; it’s patriotism,” Liz said.

Dick Cheney’s chutzpah extends to charging the Obama administration with “incompetence” in the Middle East and saying that the president has done “enormous damage” to America’s standing around the world.

When Bill O’Reilly asked Cheney on Fox News what “we get out of” the Iraq war, given that “we spent $1 trillion on this with a lot of pain and suffering on the American military,” Cheney repeated his delusion about Saddam’s WMDs — the imaginary ones — falling into the hands of terrorists: “We eliminated Iraq as a potential source of that.”

And, of course, he disdains Obamacare, telling Rush Limbaugh that it’s “devastating” — begrudging less well-off and well-connected Americans the lifesaving and costly health care he got on us when he was in the White House.

In his “60 Minutes” interview with Dick Cheney, Sanjay Gupta made it clear that Cheney had gotten special treatment to ascend to the vice presidency, given that he’d already had three heart attacks, the first one at 37. As Gupta noted, the Bush campaign was concerned enough to check with the famed Texas heart surgeon Denton Cooley, who talked to Reiner and then informed the Bush team — with no examination — that Cheney was in “good health with normal cardiac function.”

“The normal cardiac function wasn’t true,” Gupta said to Cheney.

“I’m not responsible for that,” replied the man who never takes responsibility for any of his dark deeds. “I don’t know what took place between the doctors.”

Four months after being cleared, Cheney suffered his fourth heart attack during the 2000 recount and had to get a stent put in to open a clogged artery.

If the doctors had not signed off on Cheney’s heart as “normal,” then Cheney would never have been vice president, and Donald Rumsfeld never would have been defense secretary, and Paul Wolfowitz never would have been his deputy, etc., etc. And W. wouldn’t have been pushed and diverted into Iraq.

In this alternative scenario, “It’s Not a Wonderful Life,” where Cheney is not peddling his paranoia, how many Americans would not have lost their lives and limbs?

Gupta also asked the question that even Cheney’s Republican pals have puzzled over: Could his heart disease, limiting blood flow to the brain, have affected his judgment on the Iraq invasion and torture? Asked whether he had ever worried about that, Cheney said, “No.”

Speaking to Stephanopoulos, Cheney belittled his daughter’s opponent, saying he had never been his fishing buddy and noting that Liz garnered 25 percent of her funds from Wyoming while Enzi only got 13 percent of his from the state. In sparsely populated Wyoming, it’s not easy to raise money. And Liz has gotten a lot of help from Daddy’s rich friends.

While other Republican elders, from Jeb Bush to John McCain, chided Tea Party lawmakers for vaingloriously and recklessly closing the government, and National Review warned of “perpetual intra-Republican denunciation,” Dick Cheney gave the shutdown a shout-out. He knows Liz’s best shot is being seen as part of the “new generation” of Tea Partyers rather than a habitual beneficiary of old-fashioned nepotism.

“It’s a normal healthy reaction, and the fact that the party is having to adjust to it is positive,” he said on the “Today” show about the Tea Party.

You know you’re in trouble when Dick Cheney thinks you’re a force for good.

Maureen Dowd is a columnist for The New York Times.

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