VICE President Dick Cheney doesn't care about polls, the views of his fellow Americans, or the world's judgment. Like his ostensible boss, President Bush, he cares only about the opinion of those who will look back from the vantage point of decades.
No wonder 25 percent of Americans polled by CNN believe he is the worst vice president in U.S. history. Another 41 percent think he's just been "poor."
With less than a month left in office, Mr. Cheney is trying to make the case to friendly news outlets that the Bush Administration will be vindicated by historians because it kept the country "safe" from terrorist attacks for 7 1/2 years. Such glibness overlooks the assault on the Constitution, America's eroded moral standing in the world, and the toll of blood and treasure taken by an unnecessary war in Iraq.
Recently, Mr. Cheney told the Washington Times that a mere 33 detainees were subjected to "enhanced interrogation" and that the United States was justified in doing so. "If I was faced with those circumstances again, I'd do exactly the same thing," he said. Mr. Cheney then turned the issue on its head, saying that an unwillingness to use torture to save American lives would be "immoral."
While the vice president believes history will take a benign view of the administration's arrogance and incompetence, we think it's likely that future historians will be armed with more knowledge about the folly of this regime. If that's true, then posterity's regard for the Bush years can go in only one direction - down.