tv American History TV CSPAN August 16, 2014 5:38pm-6:01pm EDT
join the c-span conversation. like us on facebook. follow us on twitter. >> all weekend long, american history tv is joining our charter cable partners to showcase the history of casper, wyoming. to learn more about the cities on our 2014 tour, visit /localcontent. we continue now with our look at the history of casper. this is american history tv on c-span3. ' producer is creating a documentary about the life and career of former vice president dick cheney, who grew up in casper, wyoming. as part of the process, he sat down with the former vice president for a series of one-on-one interviews as well as with former colleagues and journalists who covered mr. cheney's career. >> what got you guys to casper? >> we were living in lincoln. eisenhower got elected.
freeman became secretary of agriculture. we organized the agriculture department, so conservation service was affected. he could gooice -- to great falls, montana, or casper, wyoming, and he opted for casper, fortunately. i used to tell a story that if that had not happened, i would never have met lynn, and she would have married to someone else. her responses, "yes, and then he would have been vice president of the united states." >> he has a dry sense of humor, and you hear this from people who were his compatriots and colleagues over the years. this guy who seems somewhat humorless went on camera interviews, and in fact, he has got a good wit to him, and he says kind of funny aphoristic things, but he generally will not do that on camera. will not do that in interviews. he has got this private side that has made him a lot of very loyal ones, particularly here in wyoming, but i think elsewhere as well.
it is easy to slip into cliched description of small-town life and rural america when you talk about casper as it was during cheney's when he lived there, went to high school, met his future cheerleader, a baton twirler. played football. athletic, like an almost any small town. very important in casper. may not have been the best football player on the team -- certainly wasn't, actually, but he was not -- he was a determined player and did just fine. he was not really political at the time, but that was not really what you did in casper, wyoming, as a teenager. >> i think a lot of people were surprised when i decided to be run -- when i decided to run to be president of the class. it was not a tough campaign. just seemed like a good idea at the time. i cannot say i was politically motivated. i enjoyed it.
i had a good time in high school. ofot of weight -- a lot great friends. we played football and baseball and fished and enjoyed growing up. we did not think of it as a small town. most people look at casper, wyoming, in the 1950's, and it was a small town, and we always thought of ourselves as the first or second largest city in wyoming, so we did not have quite the small-town attitude, but it had all the benefits of growing up in the 1950's in america. >> a few of the people who knew dick cheney in those days would say that they see a future vice president or national figure. most of them, though, were aware of his very determined nature, his loyalty, something that has mattered to him all his life. any number of personality traits that i think you see later. back inlity of holding a group, not being the guy who talks all the time and tries to dominate, something that
characterized really his entire career in politics and in government, was true then. there was an oilman man in wyoming, who was released from back east. .e had gone to yale had connections there. in those days, that's what you needed to get into yale, some of you who was well connected. he would pick one or two top students from casper and encourage them and then kind of facilitate them applying to and going to yale. dick cheney was one of them. yale was kind of a disaster. he did not do well. he had been a good student in casper. he was not a good student in yale. he was popular. he had good friends there, but he was warned repeatedly that he was on the edge of being kicked out just for poor grades and things. eventually, he left at one point with the encouragement of the administration of yale. they said, "come back when you
are a little more ready. he tried coming back area did not work again. he went back and actually worked as a lineman for power companies in wyoming. that's a rough life with rough people. he lived that way. spent some time in bars. gotten a little but of trouble, , and eventually found himself in a jail cell in rock spring. this is a big element in dick cheney's life and the things that shaped him. at that point, you could say this is a guy with a pretty limited future. but he came back to casper with , hisncouragement of lynn future spouse. changed his ways. went back to school. started at casper college, ended out at the university of wyoming. pulled himself together. who were now married, went to the university of wisconsin for graduate work. in his case, political science.
internshipntially an with a wisconsin congressman that took him to washington, d.c. while he was there, more opportunities of that kind presented themselves, one of which was a chance to work for donald rumsfeld, who was a kind of young, up-and-coming illinois congressman who had been pulled into the mix in this administration at the time. that is where dick cheney first began working at the white house . for donald rumsfeld. they would later be tied together in many different ways with the department of defense. he held a number of jobs in the next in administration, generally working with donald rumsfeld as a kind of assistant to him or second to him. when rumsfeld went off to become an ambassador, he left the white house, probably just at the --ht time, considerably considering what ultimately happened with the nixon administration. when gerald ford took over, he brought donald rumsfeld back to
be chief of staff, and rumsfeld brought dick cheney in to be his assistant chief of staff. sure enough, rumsfeld then moved to the department of defense. dick cheney became the youngest chief of staff at the white house in history. dick cheney was a bright light, young man -- very young man for that job -- who was getting a lot of notice and already have this quality for working with people in which he could sit quietly in a meeting, kind of assessed the room, and then make the right maneuvers for his boss, the president, in a way that did not show boat or take the spotlight or anything like that, but effectively got things done. administration left the white house, dick cheney kind of went on a road trip. he left washington, d.c., and drove back to wyoming and thought very seriously about getting into a position where he was the guy getting elected, not working for people hear you he had been through a tough campaign with ford trying to win .he white house
he came back to wyoming as something of a fair haired boy. he was a young man in his 30's, well known -- nationally now -- but he knew interestingly coming the lastyoming that thing he should do is walk in as a politician and declare himself this great success from washington, d.c., coming back to work for wyoming. so he did what politicians in wyoming do, which is you go door to door. this is a state where you can meet almost everybody who is going to vote in an election -- it is still true, and it was certainly true when cheney first campaigned to go to congress. you could get in that car and start driving to communities and knocked on almost every door. worked very hard now in the , he hadf the campaign his first heart attack. he was 37 years old and had a heart attack. there certainly was a moment where one might have considered -- and he did -- "should i drop
out? is this the end of it?" he did not. he was very forthright about it. "i've had this problem. i had this heart attack. i'm still going to run. i have to rest for a time, and then i will be back on the campaign trail or co -- campaign trail." he did just fine with the voters. i think he got over 60% of the vote. i think the piece of legislation dick cheney would be most remembered for in the house of representatives and would rather surprise some people is the wyoming wilderness bill. it was a bigger compliment. this was when a lot of states around the country are trying to set aside wilderness areas, and it's generally popular, controversial, depending on which side of that you are on. wyoming is not a state that particularly favors putting ande public land
disallowing oil and gas exploration, things like that, but that is what the bill did. segregated big acreages for protection from development. it really was one of the big accomplishments in dick cheney's career in congress, getting that bill passed. after a very short time in congress, dick cheney was clearly destined for a top leadership position. he became minority whip right behind bob michael, who was the minority leader and would be the speaker of the house if republicans ever got the majority. partly on theiran basis that i had been here during the next in an ford administration. i have the knowledge and relationship with a lot of members, even though i was relatively junior in the house. i had been in washington for some time. second, it was a time when we changed a lot of positions on the republican side. john rhodes retired as leader that year, so there was a contest for minority leader, a contest for weight, contest for policy chairman, contest for , and the opportunity
existed for someone like myself to sneak in and in effect become a candidate. >> he was seen as a man who would be leading his party in congress if he chose to stay there. interestingly, though, the area that was -- that one does not know much about because it was generally kept rather secret, is his activity on the house intelligence committee. >> i would argue that there is a general understanding by the party, by the republicans, on the importance of adequate military capability. we have to use that force, that purpose, that capability to promote those values we believe in -- democracy, freedom, human .ights that does mean major commitment, a steady commitment, if you will, in terms of the portion of
our natural resources that we devote to defense capability. >> if you remember the iran contra controversy during the reagan administration, this was a time when dick cheney was in congress, and he ended up writing a minority report when thatdid an investigation really defended the practices of the white house, the reagan white house, during that matter, which involves funneling money to the controversial in nicaragua in a way that some , throughinappropriate sales to iran -- arms sales to iran. in some ways, one could say that in his congressional career, this was one of the great shaping roles he played in congress, serving on the house intelligence committee, and it probably informed a lot of what he would later bring to bear as secretary of defense and as vice president, with a very big role in foreign affairs. dick cheney considered a run for the presidency after he had served in the george h.w. bush
, the 41sttion president of the united states, as secretary of defense, and had very successfully led the effort in desert storm as secretary of defense. the public generally looked very favorably on what had happened and looked very favorably on him as well as colin powell, who worked with him in desert storm. he looked at running for president and the decided for a couple of reasons it just was not going to happen. he just did not relish the fundraising he knew he would have to do. he did a kind of road trip, going around speaking for republican candidates for congress and office generally, and it was kind of his way of taking the temperature of the country and finding out what kind of response he got. there are some who would say that the poles did not show that he got that greater response on a personal level, but his reasoning was needed not want to raise money. he was a little concerned about his health issues because he had had some heart attacks, that
they might come to bear in the public's mind and make it difficult to run. dick cheney would say that at that point in the early 1990's, he had decided not to run for national office again. he had decided it was time to try something completely new. what that was going to be was a career in the private sector. so he went to work in texas for the howl of burton corporation, and he was out of politics -- .or the halliburton corporation he does not emphasize those years as pivotal, key, or in some way informing the kind of vice president that he became. what it did do was put him in texas, and being in texas, george w. bush, governor at the time, quite naturally came to in findinge help somebody to be vice president on his ticket when he ran for president. bothof them will say -- president george w. bush and vice president dick cheney -- that almost from the beginning, george w. bush was looking at a potential vice
presidential candidate, and he was saying that he was not interested. eventually, they went through this process. they looked at any number of potential vice presidential candidates, and it came back to one of these meetings where president bush looks at him and says, "it really ought to be you." at some point after talking to his family, he says ok. >> governor bush and laura, thank you so much for asking us to join you in this effort, and thank you for giving me the chance to introduce my husband, , asing's own dick cheney the next vice president of the united states. [applause] >> one of the reasons this campaign is so important and one of the reasons i was willing to give up the private life and to sign on with governor bush in his campaign for the presidency was because of what i have seen him accomplish in texas.
>> at the beginning of the george w. bush-dick cheney administration in the first had, the vice presidents unprecedented access to the president. they had regular weekly .eetings, daily conversations they were in touch all the time. dick cheney operated very much the way he had all through his career in politics, which was he would be at a meeting. he was a presence. you could always says he was there. when he said something, it was pretty important, but he did not say a lot. what he was able to do was talk to the president privately in a way that vice presidents historically rarely do. they had a very -- i would call it a very intimate administrative relationship. they were not friends in the sense of vacationing together, hunting together, doing things did that that dick cheney with some life long close friends, including politicians.
not him and george w. bush. later, particularly in the second term of the bush-cheney , other advisors like condoleezza rice began plaguing a more important role, ready access of that dick cheney had enjoyed for so long seemed to be reduced considerably in the second term. there are a number of people who worked closely with dick cheney in congress, in the first bush administration -- george h.w. bush's administration, and later even in george w. bush's administration, who feel that he became something of a different person, that he was not the same person in this later incarnation as vice president. dick cheney would argue with them and does in our interviews that he did not change. the world changed. the change that matters tremendously was what happened on 9/11. he would say that that goes back to his days on the intelligence
committee in the house when he first saw sort of the underside of the world and what is really going on out there. is that the world as it requires the kind of response, he feels, that the bush cheney administration made. dick cheney thinks it is important to speak out and speak the truth. there have been any number of times in his career when he has decided he's not running for any higher office. president,to be vice but i'm not running for president. therefore, i don't have to be calculating in a political sense . i can speak the truth." he sees himself as a very frank straightforward straight shooter, and for much of his career, people have seen him that way. i think in the public eye, he has kind of a darker cast now, but in his own mind, he still
sees himself as being essentially a truth teller, someone who will say the things that other people find too uncomfortable to say or are afraid to say for political reasons or whatever. i know right now, he feels it is important to speak out about iraq. of course, he has been talking about the obama administration, where his president, george w. bush, remains relatively silent about these things. he thinks it is important for him to continue to speak what he sees as the truth, even when it is an uncomfortable truth. i assume viewers want to -- a deeper understanding of who dick cheney is. he has played an enormous role and not just american history but world history now. we need to understand the thought process, the personality, what were the .otivations what is his judgment about where he took the country and the role
he played? those are all things of interest, and we will look at that from his viewpoint and the viewpoint of people both pro and con in his camp and out of his camp. throughout the weekend, american history tv is featuring casper, wyoming. our local content vehicles team recently traveled there to learn about its rich history. learn more about casper and other stops on c-span's cities tour at www.c-span.org /localcontent. you are watching american history tv all weekend every .eekend on c-span3 >> 200 years ago on august 24, 1814, british soldiers rallied battle ofroops at the bladensburg right outside washington, d.c. the victory left the nation's capital right open -- wide open to british forces, who marched through the city and burned down the white house. you can learn more about the
burning of washington during the war of 1812 this thursday from author and historian anthony pitch. live coverage starts at 6:45 p.m. eastern. more about the burning of washington next saturday, august 23, as we take you live to bladensburg waterfront park for a panel discussion on the events of 200 years ago. that's live at 1:00 p.m. eastern here on american history tv on c-span3. >> with live coverage of the u.s. house on c-span and the senate on c-span2, here on thatn3, we complement coverage by showing you the most relevant congressional hearings and public events. on weekends, it's home to american history tv with programs that tell our nation's story, including six unique theories. the civil war's 100 anniversary, visiting battlefields and key events, american artifacts, touring museums and historic sites to discover what artifacts
reveal about america's past. history bookshelf with the best-known american history writers, the presidency, looking at the policies and legacies of our nation's commanders in chief, lectures and history with top college professors delving into america's and our new series, featuring archival films from the 1930's through 1970's. by the cableted industry and funded by your local cable or satellite provider. next, on the civil war, a panel of history professors traces the evolution of slavery as depicted in film since the 1930's. m drawing examples from films "amistad,"ingo," and "12 years a slave." they describe changes in race relations and gender portrayals in films, and how slave characters have shifted from the background into leading roles.