Ex-VP Cheney gets a bust in US Capitol

Former vice-president Dick Cheney, along with his wife, Lynne, and their grandchildren looking at his bust after it was unveiled in Emancipation Hall inside the US Capitol on Thursday in Washington. The bust is an honour given to all US vice-presiden
Former vice-president Dick Cheney, along with his wife, Lynne, and their grandchildren looking at his bust after it was unveiled in Emancipation Hall inside the US Capitol on Thursday in Washington. The bust is an honour given to all US vice-presidents, who also serve as Senate president. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESS

WASHINGTON • One of the most controversial vice-presidents in United States history has a permanent presence in Washington's halls of power after his marble bust was unveiled at the US Capitol.

Mr Dick Cheney, 74, was vice-president during the Sept 11, 2001, attacks and was seen as one of the most influential hawks in the George W. Bush administration.

At the unveiling on Thursday, he called it a proud day. "Every now and then, even in the distant future, someone will surely wander by the old Cheney bust, maybe even stop for a moment or two, trying to recollect something of the man, and the era," Mr Cheney said.

Mr Bush joined Republican congressional leaders, veterans of his administration and hundreds of others in paying tribute to Mr Cheney.

But Mr Cheney also came in for some good-natured jostling from his former boss. "Last time I showed up, I was hanged at the White House," said Mr Bush, referring to his official portrait being placed in the White House in 2012. "This time, I've returned only to find my vice-president getting busted at the Capitol. Last week I told mother and dad that I was coming here to the bust unveiling. Dad perked up, and he said, 'Send my best regards to old iron ass!' "

Mr Bush's father, former president George H.W. Bush, described Mr Cheney - his defence secretary in the 1991 Gulf war - as a stubborn "iron ass" in a recent biography.

But the younger Mr Bush was also generous in his praise, saying: "For eight years Dick stood by my side and always did what was right for our nation. I could not have asked for a better vice-president."

In a sign that the scars of the Iraq war and Bush era have failed to fully heal, current Vice-President Joe Biden was the only Democrat on stage for the ceremony. "I actually like Dick Cheney," he said. "I have nothing but inordinate respect for you, Dick, and I mean that sincerely."

Under the Constitution, the vice-president serves as Senate president, and since 1885 Congress has carved in marble the likenesses of those who held the position.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2015, with the headline 'Ex-VP Cheney gets a bust in US Capitol'. Print Edition | Subscribe