- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 6, 2000

Former culture warrior Lynne Cheney says she is more interested in math than multiculturalism, having remolded herself into a kinder, gentler personality whose main interest is curriculum for kindergarten through 12th graders.

In an interview yesterday, the wife of Republican vice-presidential nominee Richard B. Cheney also said she would not be interested in being named education secretary, even though her academic and government experience more than qualifies her for such a job.

"I probably don't need to be telling other members of the Bush administration what to do," she said. "I've really been concentrating on kindergarten through 12th grade."

She would try to publicize schools such as Seed Preparatory and Harvest Academy in Minneapolis, an "Afro-centric school in the very best way," she said.

Mrs. Cheney, 59, who has opposed many writings by Afro-centric scholars in the past, said this institution is different.

"Kids are reading in kindergarten," she said. "It's a wonderful thing to see."

Mrs. Cheney's friends say they are not surprised at her wanting to take a more back-seat role.

"There would be potential of all kinds of conflicts of interest," said Anita Blair, president of the Independent Women's Forum, on which Mrs. Cheney serves as a board member.

"You'd constantly draw fire and criticism. I'd think, 'Gee, how could I be more effective? Either by bringing public attention to an issue as the wife of a vice president or by literally running an agency?' "

Mrs. Cheney seemed to be avoiding the example set by Hillary Rodham Clinton, who took an active public policy role in her husband's administration.

"Lynne will have a choice: 'How do I play this?' " said Dinesh D'Souza, a fellow scholar with Mrs. Cheney at the American Enterprise Institute. "People may think she's a bomb thrower but she's a common-sensical person who shies away from the sharper edge of controversy.

"The issue is whether a little bit of culture-war weariness has set in. It's seen as an extension of partisan bickering. [Texas Gov. George W.] Bush is taking a softer rhetorical line. It's an attempt to hold onto conservative values but to market them in a gentler mode."

During her six-year stint as chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Mrs. Cheney took on a host of liberal academics by criticizing schools that had abandoned the great books of Western culture for multicultural choices.

Yesterday, she had some muted criticism about the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, Joseph I. Lieberman.

"It's sad to see him hold back," she said, "to see him mute his views on school choice, for example. He certainly is not being as outspoken on some issues I think are very important as he once was."

Mrs. Cheney's concentration on schools would be the best way to advocate her personal platforms, said Jerry Martin, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, an organization Mrs. Cheney helped found.

"When the wife of the vice president visits a school, it is to make a point to support good teaching and contrast that to bad approaches," he said. "She'd visit a phonics program and give it publicity because it's the best way to teach children to read. This kind of activity is the appropriate way to advocate ideas."

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