Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would find myself applauding the Cheneys. I found Dick Cheney’s cavalier attitude while Vice President to be a constant irritant. Not to mention contracts to Halliburton, false claims of weapons of mass destruction, approval of waterboarding—and, of course, accidentally shooting Harry Whittington, a Texas attorney, in the face while quail hunting.
I disagree with Liz Cheney on almost every issue—gun control, regulating greenhouse gas emissions, abortion, healthcare, the Middle East—the list goes on. Yet last Thursday, Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz were the only Republicans who had the guts to honor those who protected the Capitol on January 6, 2021. I give them both credit for doing so. And I give Liz extra credit for staying true to her conservative beliefs but also giving an honest assessment of Trump’s anti-democratic and complicit behavior regarding January 6.
When George Bush was president, I bemoaned his gutting the government surplus that Clinton amassed, approving illegal interrogation acts, hiring a horse expert to run FEMA, and permitting unlawful spying on Americans. Yet now I remember how graciously Bush welcomed Obama to the White House. He couldn’t have been more hospitable. Even his daughters were kind and welcoming to Sasha and Malia. Contrast that with Trump’s entire family refusing to greet the incoming President or even attend the inauguration.
During his campaign, Romney said Obamacare was the worse piece of healthcare legislation in the history of healthcare legislation—even though it was a mirror image of his healthcare plan in Massachusetts. He said Obama was weak on terrorists, even though Obama ‘s administration killed Osama Bin Laden. At a fundraiser for wealthy donors, Romney claimed that 47 percent of people will vote for Obama no matter what. He stated, “they believe they are victims who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you name it.” Romney went on to say, “My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” He also suggested that people should vote for him because he was a businessman even though he refused to divulge any information about how he ran his business. That was then. This is now. Now Romney is a Republican who voted to convict Trump of abusing his power and who condemned Trump for stonewalling the Biden presidency and attempting to prevent the peaceful transition of power.
Many Americans idolize Ronald Reagan. I was never one of them. I was going to Georgetown University when Reagan became President, and I was appalled at the difference in the town between the Carter and Reagan administrations. What seemed like an endless stream of limousines was constantly going up and down Wisconsin Avenue and M Street. There were lines out the door at Elizabeth Arden’s for updo hairdos, and the town suffered from a shortage of fancy ball gowns. To me, it seemed like the height of excess—flaunting ostentatious wealth–almost patently immoral. After the excesses of the Trump administration and the glitzy tasteless Trump brand in general, Reagan ‘s conspicuous consumption seems like child’s play in comparison. Now, I remember him as a wise sage who said things like, “trust but verify, “and “a people free to choose will always choose peace.”
And then, of course, there is Richard Nixon. Until now, he was considered one of the worst presidents in history. He disgraced the office, lied, and covered up his indiscretions. He resigned to save the country from the disconcerting and damaging process of an impeachment trial. The comparison to Trump does not bear repeating. And let’s not forget that Nixon also founded the Environmental Protection Agency, began a war on cancer, lowered the voting age to 18, signed the Paris Peace Accords, avoided a second Cuban missile crisis, and supported Israel with massive aid which Golda Meir later said saved her country.
Shakespeare said, “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is often interred with their bones.” So, if for nothing else, I can thank Trump for my remembering the good in some Republicans (although not many currently in office).
Maria Grant was principal-in-charge of the Federal human capital practice of an international consulting firm. Currently she is the HR Director of Politics & Prose Bookstore in DC. While on the Eastern Shore, she focuses on reading, writing, piano, gardening, and nature.