- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 17, 2001


On Saturday, Lynne V. Cheney will stand on a spot where, a year ago, she never dreamed she'd be: next to her husband, Richard B. Cheney, as he is sworn in as the next vice president of the United States.
Mrs. Cheney is by no means an obscure personality. She was the head of the National Endowment for the Humanities from 1986 to 1993, is the author of several books on declining academic and moral standards in American culture and education, and is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
Her book "Telling the Truth: Why Our Culture and Our Country Have Stopped Making Sense and What We Can Do About It," was published in 1996. The holder of a doctorate in English literature, Mrs. Cheney, 59, has already selected a title for an upcoming book: "Schoolthink: The Ideas That Are Undermining American Education and What We Can Do About Them."
She will spend the month after the Inauguration getting the new vice-presidential quarters in the District of Columbia painted and the floors refinished. The Cheneys will move in at the end of February. Yesterday, she described some of her thoughts and plans to culture page editor Julia Duin.
Q: What were you doing during the 37-day waiting period after the election and before Al Gore conceded?
A: I watched a lot of television, like the rest of the country. I sold my house in Dallas. I made an entire inventory of that house so that, once we knew where we were moving and for that 37 days it wasn't clear I could tell the movers this goes here, this goes here and this goes here. Selling a house and getting ready to move is a huge thing.
Q: How did you deal with the tension?
A: As I remember it, it was not a tense period. It was frustrating, sometimes, but I was very confident that it would come out in the way it did come out. There was some frustration, with the Florida Supreme Court, for example.
Q: How did you deal with your husband's Nov. 23 heart attack? Were you pretty confident he'd be OK?
A: Yes, exactly, because he always seems as though he's in control of the situation. Plus, he has wonderful doctors … As soon as the stent [to open a blocked artery] was put in place, it was clear it was going to be just fine. I'd say it was clear from the very first test he'd be just fine, that whatever was involved was not a life-threatening problem.
Q: Tell me about your new book.
A: It is about education and it tries to answer the question why education reform is so difficult. The publisher is Ivan R. Dee in Chicago. I've got about six months of writing on it still left. I don't write long, maybe 250 pages.
Q: What did you think of the Chronicle of Higher Education's Sept. 29 article portraying you, on the strength of two of your early novels, as a feminist intellectual?
A: It's important who wrote it, as Elaine Showalter is a distinguished feminist. She did some of the early academic work on feminism and it's very good. One of her books showed some of the really early good feminist scholarship before feminist scholarship became so politicized, which it eventually did.
I kind of wrote [the 1981 book "Sisters"] as an amusement when Dick and I were in Wyoming before he began his run for Congress. I wanted it as a version of "Rebecca," the famous book by Daphne du Maurier, in the West. I had a good deal of fun writing about it and it got published and I kind of forgot about it because it only came out in paperback. I was remarkably flattered that Elaine Showalter read it and liked it.
Q: What sorts of cultural issues are you interested in now? You've been mentioning (the rapper) Eminem in interviews.
A: In the recent issue of Town & Country, there's an interview with Candice Bergen and I was flipping through it and I saw "Dick Cheney" and I thought, oh, this isn't going to be good. And I read it more closely and she was actually talking about Dick Cheney's wife, which is a fine way to refer to me, and she was saying how much good sense I made on these cultural issues.
So, I take that as an indication that this concern about culture really does span a wide political spectrum. That it's people who have kids. She has kids. I have grandkids. I think I worry more about them now.
Q: Any people you're thinking of speaking out on?
A: I haven't really focused on anything except for the amazing prospect of a man like Eminem, who is so full of hate and so outspoken in his hatred of women and gay people that's just really got my attention focused right now. That he'd not only win not just a Grammy [award] but, apparently, the biggest Grammy.
Q: Are you planning to do what Bill Bennett and [Sen.] Joe Lieberman did in their Silver Sewer awards, taking on certain shows?
A: I'd love to work with Bill Bennett, but I don't have any idea where that is likely to lead.
Q: Has he approached you?
A: We've had conversations about it, just about our mutual interests. Both of us have been pretty busy to be specific about anything.
Q: He and Joe Lieberman didn't have the Silver Sewer awards during their usual time this past December because they were busy with other things.
A: Well, he and Joe have had somewhat of a falling out, too.
Q: Will your two daughters have any positions in the new administration?
A: Well, Mary is about ready to go back to business school. I don't think Liz has made her plans. I will not speak for my daughters. While they are in their early 30s, I think they'd just as soon speak for themselves.
Q: So you're going back into the private sector, working for the American Enterprise Institute and serving on several boards. Anywhere else?
A: I'll just see how things go.
Q: You'll be the first spouse of a president or vice president to hold down a full-time job.
A: I guess that's true, but it strikes me as surprising when you think how far women have advanced. There are very many important women politicians who have husbands out there working, as they should. There are male politicians who have wives who are successful in their business careers.
It's been a part of our culture for so long now that I'm surprised I'll be the first to do that, but certainly not the last.
Q: There's been some criticism of your not cashing in your stock from [having been a board member at] Lockheed Martin. Are you thinking of doing so?
A: Oh, it will all be cashed in by the time Dick is sworn in Saturday morning.
Q: Are you cashing in all your stock?
A: No, not from Reader's Digest Foundation, as I am staying on that board. One of the things that shareholders of a company like to see is directors of a company invested in the company. I'm off the Lockheed Martin board. As far as I know, I've cashed everything in. There may be a few little things to sell, but it's gone by the by.
Q: And the American Express Mutual Funds board?
A: No, I'll stay on that. The Office of Government Ethics rules, which technically don't apply to Dick but which we're trying to voluntarily abide by as much as possible, allow you to hold widely diversified mutual funds, Treasuries, that kind of thing.

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