Vice President Dick Cheney: Biography & Quotes

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson provides a brief biography of Dick Cheney, the former vice president of the United States. You'll learn about his early life and career in the process.

Dick Cheney

You know, some people think that George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States, was never really the president, and that it was his assertive vice president, Dick Cheney, who really was. Whether people believe this jokingly or seriously is irrelevant; it speaks to the point that despite being 'only' a vice president, Dick Cheney has been a feared and respected player in the political arena, even decades prior to becoming vice president.

Early Life & Education

Richard Bruce Cheney was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, on January 30, 1941. His dad, Richard Herbert Cheney, was a soil conservation agent. His mom was Marjorie Lauraine Dickey Cheney. If you know anything at all about Cheney, it's that he is as conservative as it gets. But you might be surprised to learn that both of his parents were actually Democrats.

When Cheney was 13, the family moved to Casper, Wyoming, and this is where Cheney grew up. It's a place he remembers fondly. Maybe it's because he met his high school sweetheart and future wife, Lynne Vincent, here. She was, after all, the homecoming queen and he was the president of the senior class, and a sports star in school. Sounds like something right out of a movie!

After high school, Cheney enrolled in Yale University in 1959. He didn't just enroll, he got a full-ride scholarship. But something went a bit amiss and he flunked out after just three semesters. So Cheney packed his bags and went back to Wyoming to work as a power lineman.

However, Cheney doesn't give up easily, and he soon tried his luck in college again. He first went to Casper College in 1963 and later transferred to the University of Wyoming, where he received a B.A. in 1965 and an M.A. in 1966, both in political science.

In the meantime, he married Lynne Vincent on August 29th, 1964. They would go on to have two daughters, Elizabeth and Mary.

Career

During his time as a student, Cheney received five draft deferments and so ensured he never saw combat during the Vietnam War. As Cheney said himself, he 'had other priorities in the 60s than military service.'

He began a career in politics while still a student. First, he worked as an intern at the Republican-controlled Wyoming Senate legislature. Then, he was given a position as an aide to Warren Knowles, the governor of Wisconsin at the time. In 1968, he received a fellowship that allowed him to work on Capitol Hill.

While he was there, he wanted to work for a young Donald Rumsfeld, then an Illinois representative. However, Rumsfield wasn't interested. But, Cheney doesn't give up, remember? Cheney kept at it, and after Rumsfield was appointed by Nixon, Cheney sent Rumsfield some unsolicited advice that impressed him, and he offered Cheney a job, which he readily took.

Dick Cheney
Dick Cheney

When Nixon resigned due to the Watergate scandal, President Gerald Ford made Rumsfeld his chief of staff and Rumsfeld made Cheney his deputy. Luck would play its role when Ford eventually made Rumsfeld the Secretary of Defense. Cheney would go on to inherit Rumsfeld's old job of chief of staff. He was only 34 at the time.

Ford eventually lost the 1976 election and Cheney was out of a job. However, in 1978, Cheney managed to win an election for the U.S. House of Representatives. Cheney would go on to serve numerous terms in the House and eventually became the Republican whip. He was as conservative as it got at the time.

In 1989, President George H.W. Bush made Cheney his secretary of defense. In this role, he oversaw numerous conflicts, including the Persian Gulf War and the invasion of Panama. Bush lost the presidency to Bill Clinton in 1992 and Cheney went on to work at a conservative think tank and as CEO of Halliburton.

When Bush's son George W. won the 2000 election, Cheney became the vice president. Cheney played a central role in shaping foreign policy, such as the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. While many respected Cheney's strong-handed manners in dealing with U.S. enemies, others felt betrayed when his former company, Halliburton, was handed, basically on a plate, very lucrative contracts from the U.S. government while he was vice president.

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