VP’s wife sidesteps politics
August 16, 2006
Lynne Cheney dipped into current politics with one-word quips and well-distanced comments Wednesday afternoon during an appearance at the Aspen Institute, keeping her remarks mostly to education and history.She denounced the way politics have grown acrimonious, expressed dislike of the 24-hour news cycle and touched on women running for president. “[National security] is the driving issue,” Cheney said on the possibility of a female president. “The stereotype exists that women are softer. Maybe it’s not true. I don’t think it’s true. But it’s a little bit of a challenge to overcome for a woman president.”Though she didn’t mention Hillary Clinton, Cheney did say we’re getting close enough to the election that the question of a woman president is not so abstract.
“If you’re thinking of Condi Rice,” Cheney said, “I think she has good credentials.”Mostly, Cheney stayed away from politically charged issues. She spoke of her various books on history and of her day-to-day life, such as finding good art for the vice president’s residence.The audience got a few inside looks at the Cheney family. She has been married to Dick Cheney, the vice president, for 42 years. About four years ago she consented to go fishing with him. “After about three casts, I hit him in the ear,” Lynne Cheney said. “It caused a lot of bleeding.””It runs in the family,” said Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute.
As the former chairwoman of the National Endowment of the Humanities, Cheney was passionate about history in the classroom. “When we do teach [history] in school, we mix it up with a bunch of other things and call it social studies,” Cheney said, stressing the primacy of American history in schools. “If you have to set a priority, American history comes first,” she said, “then the rest of the world.”At times, the study of history stretched into the political, but only insofar as to stress the importance of America.”This country is an amazing thing, part of our duty is to preserve it for future generations,” Cheney said. “If you lose a sense of the nation’s story, then you’re apt to lose the nation itself.”
Over and over, Cheney repeated the phrase, “It’s not a given,” stressing the need for vigilance. Isaacson said Cheney would not be answering questions about major political topics such as the war in Iraq during the question-and-answer period. “You can ask such questions, but she can’t answer them,” Isaacson said.”Can’t?” Cheney quipped, though she did mention that she gets riled up about the political side of things.”It does make me and my daughters very angry,” she said. “I just hope no one taps into my Blackberry.”Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org