Like many Americans, the Cheney family felt it had been pulled from the depths of the Great Depression by the New Deal efforts of Franklin Roosevelt, cementing the family’s support for the Democratic president and his party. “When I was born [on Jan. 30, 1941] my granddad wanted to send a telegram to the president,” Cheney wrote in his memoir. “Both sides of my family were staunch New Deal Democrats, and Granddad was sure that FDR would want to know about the ‘little stranger’ with whom he now had a birthday in common.”
After growing up in the relative comfort of middle-class, post-World War II America, Dick Cheney would take advantage of the many opportunities that presented themselves, attaching himself to powerful Republican politicians, most notably an ambitious congressman from Illinois named Donald Rumsfeld.
When Rumsfeld left Congress for posts in the Nixon administration, he brought the hard-working Cheney along. Eventually Rumsfeld became White House chief of staff to President Gerald Ford and – when Rumsfeld was tapped to become Defense Secretary in 1975 – he recommended his young aide, Dick Cheney, to succeed him.
Cheney’s career path through the ranks of Republican national politics, with occasional trips through the revolving door into lucrative private-sector jobs, was set. He would become a major player within the GOP Establishment, establishing for himself a reputation as one of the most conservative members of Congress and a foreign policy hawk.
Cheney is now recognized as a right-wing Republican icon, inspiring a new generation of conservatives to dismantle what’s left of Roosevelt’s New Deal and shrink the federal government so it won’t be there to help some other struggling family trying to make it into the middle class and achieve the American Dream.
Indeed, if the father in that struggling family suffers from heart disease – and if the family is denied affordable health insurance due to that pre-existing condition – Cheney’s right-wing Tea Party policies would coldly calculate that the father’s life would not be worth saving.