May 10, 2006

A Picture Is Worth 0000 Words


“My image might be better out there,

this caricature you talk about might be avoided,

if I spent more time as a public figure trying to

improve my image, but that’s not why I’m here.”

— Dick Cheney, explaining to Todd Purdum

what he’s not doing this interview for.


So Vanity Fair is pimping for Cheney?  Guess that’s the cost of being big MSM.  Because, although they got stiffed on the interview, they still gave “The Hostile Veep Reclamation Project” the photo plug of the year.

The “exclusive interview” in the new June Vanity Fair is titled “The Dick Cheney You Don’t Know.”  Amen!  I mean, if Cheney had even given up one thing, you know that title would have read “Didn’t” — not “Don’t.”
So, what did Purdum get out of Smiley?  Well, it went mostly like this:

Is he fatalistic about his heart disease?

“I am. I don’t even think about it most of the time.”

What would he order for breakfast at his favorite pre-fishing spot?

“I’d probably have two eggs over easy, sausage and hash browns.”  (He says he cuts loose when he goes fishing.)

On whether he has even “a little doubt” about the administration’s course.

“No…. I think we’ve done what needed to be done.”

On whether the administration hyped pre-war intelligence:

“In the end, you can argue about the quality of the intelligence and so forth, but … I look at that whole spectrum of possibilities and options, and I think we did the right thing.”

Is Cheney the power behind the throne?

“I think we have created a system that works for this president and for me, in terms of my ability to be able to contribute and participate in the process.”

(…And, I guess, this is where Purdum stop licking the boots….)

Does he think gay people are born that way?

“Nice try.”

Can he remember the longest conversation he ever had with his father?

“That’s private.”

Dick may have skated through the oral exam with stock non-answers and generic chit-chat, but a portrait (by someone like David Hume Kennerly, no less) demands more honesty — or, dishonesty — than that.  In this case, the acid man (hey, who knew Air force Two had a fireplace!) locked his eyes on somebody — maybe Purdam — and then tried to channel Santa Claus.



But I can promise you, if he had to look straight into the camera for that portrait, he never would have pulled off that mug.  (By the way, look how he shouldered the other two shots.  What’s this, equal-opportunity profiles?

As it went, the portrait was so disingenuous,VF couldn’t stop telegraphing the fact.  Right there in the large-type story lead-in, Cheney is characterized as “the whiz kid with the lopsided smile who ran Ford’s White House….”  Maybe that’s historically accurate.  But if the “smile” was lopsided then the way it’s lopsided these days, then the word they really were looking for was: “inverted.”

And then, VF practically flirts with retraction with that title: “A Face Only A President Could Love.”  So what are you telling us?  That only the “Self-Deceiver-in-Chief” would buy into this?  That the only reason Cheney’s lower face is set this way is because — like the article — it’s been ironed?


(Note: Beyond this summary, currently on VF’s “Press Room page, no on-line version of the piece is available.)

(images: David Hume Kennerly for Vanity Fair.  June 26, 2006)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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