Interview of the Vice President by Rush Limbaugh, The Rush Limbaugh Show
1:07 P.M. EDT
Q: It's always a great privilege to have the Vice President, Dick Cheney, with us. Mr. Vice President, welcome once again to our program.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Rush. It's good to be back on.
Q: I can imagine. Now, let's start talking about the supplemental funding bill for Iraq. I have to tell you something I heard last night as I'm watching some of the cable news network shows -- some of the Democrats and Democrat commentators are saying publicly now they expect that the President is eventually going to back off the veto threat because he will eventually -- he cannot be seen as defunding the troops.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, he has been very, very firm in his insistence, Rush, that if they send him a bill with limitations on his ability to function as Commander-in-Chief, or restrictions on the troops, or with a withdrawal date that, in effect, would tell our enemies we're going to quit, he will veto it. He's also said the same thing if the bills are loaded up with pork, on nonessential spending. So he's been very, very clear. Nobody should be mistaken about that.
Q: Where do you think this is going to go? The Democrats don't seem to be in any hurry to have this go to conference, have a final bill voted upon and then sent up to the White House for the veto. How long is this going to take, do you suspect?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I hope it only takes a couple of weeks. They all took off for vacation as soon as they passed the bills, but so far the House hasn't even appointed conferees and they're going to be out next week, as well, too. The Senate is coming back next week.
Q: Now, you and the President both have derided the theatrics of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and a number of the Democrats, and I don't know if you're being politic with the statement -- I, frankly, need to ask you if you really think it's theatrics, or is this who they really are? Is this what they really intend, to lose this war, to make sure we come home defeated?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think that the policies that they are recommending would, in fact, produce that result. I think they're -- I've got some friends on the other side of the aisle, and I don't want to question everybody's motives -- I do believe that a significant portion of the Democrats, including, I think, Nancy Pelosi, are adamantly opposed to the war and prepared to pack it in and come home in defeat, rather than put in place or support a policy that will lead to victory. That's a fundamental difference.
Q: Can you share with us whether or not you understand their devotion, or their seeming allegiance to the concept of U.S. defeat?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I can't. It seems to me so abundantly clear, Rush, that we really need to prevail in this conflict, that there's an awful lot riding on it. It's not just about Iraq; it's about our efforts in the global war on terror and that entire part of the world. It affects what's going on in Iran, where we're trying to make sure they don't develop a nuclear weapon. You can imagine the extent to which the Iranians would be heartened in that effort if they see us withdraw from Iraq, next door. We've got Musharraf in Pakistan and Karzai in Afghanistan who put their lives on the line every day, in effect, supporting our efforts to deal with the extremists and the terrorists in that part of world. If they see us bail out in Iraq, they clearly would lose confidence in our capacity to carry through and get the job done.
So it's absolutely essential we do it. I don't know why, what the motive is. They seem to think that we can withdraw from Iraq and walk away from it. They ignore the lessons of the past. Remember what happened in Afghanistan. We had been involved in Afghanistan in the '80s, supporting the Mujahadin against the Soviets and prevailed, we won, everybody walked away. And in the '90s, Afghanistan became a safe haven for terrorists, an area for training camps where al Qaeda trained 20,000 terrorists in the late '90s in the base from which they launched attacks against the United States on 9/11. So those are very real problems and to advocate withdrawal from Iraq at this point seems to me simply would play right into the hands of al Qaeda.
Q: It may not just be Iraq. Yesterday I read that Ike Skelton, who chairs -- I forget the name of the committee -- in the next defense appropriations bill for fiscal '08 is going to actually remove the phrase "global war on terror," because they don't think it's applicable. They want to refer to conflicts as individual skirmishes. But they're going to try to rid the defense appropriation bill -- and, thus, official government language -- of that term. Does that give you any indication of their motivation or what they think of the current plight in which the country finds itself?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Sure -- well, it's just flawed thinking. I like Ike Skelton; I worked closely with Ike when I was Secretary of Defense. He's Chairman of the Armed Services Committee now. Ike is a good man. He's just dead wrong about this, though. Think about -- just to give you one example, Rush, remember Abu Musab al Zarqawi, a Jordanian terrorist, al Qaeda affiliate; ran a training camp in Afghanistan for al Qaeda, then migrated -- after we went into Afghanistan and shut him down there, he went to Baghdad, took up residence there before we ever launched into Iraq; organized the al Qaeda operations inside Iraq before we even arrived on the scene, and then, of course, led the charge for Iraq until we killed him last June. He's the guy who arranged the bombing of the Samarra Mosque that precipitated the sectarian violence between Shia and Sunni. This is al Qaeda operating in Iraq. And as I say, they were present before we invaded Iraq.
There's no way you can segment out and say, well, we'll fight the war on terror in Pakistan, or in Afghanistan, but we can separate Iraq, that's not really in any way, shape, or form, related. That's just dead wrong. Bin Laden, himself, has said, this is a central battle in the war on terror.
Q: Well, I have to think Democrats know all of this, too, which puzzles people even more, as to why they seem devoted to pulling out of there with defeat securely in hand. Not only would what you detail happen, but the next conflict, the next battle that we find ourselves in -- there will be one -- how tough is it going to be to assemble allies if they think we might just pull out in the middle of the whole thing before it's complete?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, it would be very tough. Remember what al Qaeda is betting on here. They cannot beat us in a stand-up fight, they never have. What they're betting is that they can break our will, that they can, in fact, force the American people to retreat, that we'll finally get tired of the battle and go home, and then they win. The only way they can win is if we quit. And to adopt a policy that says we're going to withdraw from Iraq would do precisely that, and in effect, hands victory to the terrorists, it validates the whole al Qaeda strategy. The other thing you can be sure of, once they figure out that if they attack America often enough, we'll change our policies, they'll keep attacking America.
Q: You have a lot of supporters in this audience, obviously, and they're chomping at the bit to help. What can people in this audience do to assist the effort to get the supplemental passed as the President wants it?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think they ought to make it clear to their member of Congress that this is a question of supporting the troops. These are young men and women who put their lives on the line every day for this country; they deserve the absolute unequivocal support of the United States, of the Congress -- the funding that's in that bill, the resources that they need to do the job we asked them to do for us.
This is a real test. You cannot pursue this fiction that some of them like to pursue, that they "support the troops," but they're opposed to everything the troops are doing. That's just a non-sensical statement. It's very, very important that this legislation go forward and that members of Congress be judged based on whether or not they really do support the troops when they're put to the test.
Q: A couple of quick -- more things before you have to go. What's the administration view today, what's the emotion, what are you thinking about Speaker Pelosi's trip to the Middle East, specifically, the conveyance of the incorrect message to Bashir Assad in Syria about peace talks with Israel?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, it's not helpful. I made it clear earlier that I thought this was -- created difficulty, if I can put it in a gentle form. Obviously, she's the Speaker of the House and ought to travel to foreign nations and ought to --
Q: But she's not entitled to --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: -- conduct visits --
Q: -- make policy, is she?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: She's not entitled to make policy. In this particular case, by going to Damascus at this stage, it serves to reinforce, if you will, and reward Bashir Assad for his bad behavior. He's done all kinds of things that are not in the interest of the United States, including allowing Syria to be an area from which attacks are launched against our people inside Iraq. He, obviously, is heavily involved right now in supporting an effort by Hezbollah to try to topple the government of Lebanon. This is a bad actor, and until he changes his behavior, he should not be rewarded with visits by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Q: Well, how much damage has she done by conveying to Assad that Israel is ready for peace talks when Israel is not ready for peace talks, as Syria is currently constituted?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think it clearly stimulated a reaction out of the Israelis. Prime Minister Olmert immediately made it clear that she was not authorized to make any such offer to Bashir Assad. Among other things, of course, the Syrians have not renounced their support for terror. The major terrorist organizations that are dedicated to the destruction of Israel, such as Hamas, are headquartered in Damascus, Syria.
It was a non-statement, non-sensical statement and didn't make any sense at all that she would suggest that those talks could go forward as long as the Syrians conducted themselves as a prime state sponsor of terror.
Q: You are a reserved individual and very professional, and you've been doing this a long time. But I'm asking this for people in my audience, as well as me: How do you feel when -- don't you get enraged when this kind of things happens?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I've been around a long time. I'm obviously disappointed. I think it is, in fact, bad behavior on her part. I wish she hadn't done it. But she is the Speaker of the House. And, fortunately, I think the various parties involved recognize she doesn't speak for the United States in those circumstances, she doesn't represent the administration. The President is the one who conducts foreign policy, not the Speaker of the House.
Q: One more, and that's the recess appointment of Sam Fox. Sam Fox is from my home state, and I know Sam Fox -- he's an immigrant, a Ukrainian Jewish immigrant, whose parents would have nothing -- when they died they had nothing. He is a totally self-created man, a great American. And he was treated horribly by Senator Kerry and others on that committee, simply because he had made a political donation. They essentially told him he did not have freedom of speech in this country, until he would apologize, until he would go up to Kerry and apologize for supporting the Swift Boats. Now the President has recess-appointed him. And of course, the Democrats have said they're going to investigate this and going to look into this.
This is the kind of move that garners a lot of support from the people in the country. This shows the administration willing to engage these people and not allow them to get away with this kind of -- well, my term -- you don't have to accept it -- Stalinist behavior from these people on that committee.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, you're dead on, Rush. I know Sam well. He's a good friend of mine and has been for many years. I think he's a great appointment. He'll do a superb job as our Ambassador to Belgium. I was delighted when the President made the recess appointment. He clearly has that authority under the Constitution. And you're right, John Kerry basically shot it down.
Q: You go on vacation, this is what happens to you.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: If you're a Democrat. (Laughter.)
Q: Mr. Vice President, thanks for your time. It really is always a pleasure to talk to you. And we appreciate your candor when you come on the program, very much so. All the best, and have a great Easter weekend, you and your family.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thanks, Rush. I enjoy the show.
Q: Thank you.
END 1:22 P.M. EDT
Richard B. Cheney, Interview of the Vice President by Rush Limbaugh, The Rush Limbaugh Show Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/284709