Cheney ponders his unpopularity

CHENEY PONDERS HIS UNPOPULARITY…. Dick Cheney chatted with the Casper Star-Tribune last week, and covered a fair amount of ground. Faiz Shakir highlights the key exchange, which came after the paper asked the vice president, “How do you explain your low approval rating?”

“I don’t have any idea. I don’t follow the polls.

“My experience has been over the years that if you govern based upon poll numbers, upon trying to improve your overall poll ratings, people I’ve encountered who do that are people who won’t make tough decisions. And the job the president has and those who advise him is to make those basic fundamental decisions for the nation that nobody else is authorized or able to make.

“First and foremost among those is to defend the nation. If you’re going to follow the polls, you are going to change your policy every week when the poll comes out. Secondly, I think you’re adversely affected by the fact that you can get just about any result you want out of a poll.”

There are a few ways to look at this, but two angles jump out at me. First, for someone one who claims to be completely unconcerned about public support, Cheney gives the impression of having given this quite a bit of thought. If I didn’t know better, I might think Cheney has spent some time rationalizing his unpopularity, finding a way to wear it as a badge of honor. Of course he has low approval ratings; he makes tough decisions.

Second, my favorite part of the response was that last comment: “[Y]ou can get just about any result you want out of a poll.” I think I know what Cheney means — data can be twisted and manipulated — but I’m not altogether sure where he’s going with this. Is it possible Cheney thinks the polls have been fiddled with and the public isn’t disgusted by his conduct?

One can get a variety of results out of a poll, but when it comes to Americans’ support for Dick Cheney, the numbers are an accurate reflection of the national sentiment.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation