RUSH: I want to welcome to the program Lynne Cheney, the wife of Vice President Dick Cheney. A new book out called Blue Skies, No Fences. Mrs. Cheney, it’s always a pleasure to talk to you and I welcome you to the program.
MRS. CHENEY: Well, thank you, Rush. It’s so much fun to be on with you.
RUSH: Now, tell me. This is a memoir, I know, but I’m intrigued by the title: ‘Blue Skies, No Fences.’ I know it is a review your youth growing up; the way life was in the middle of the Twentieth Century in the West. But when I read ‘Blue Skies, No Fences,’ is this about how times were much more innocent and you get into how times have become less innocent since you were growing up?
MRS. CHENEY: For sure. I think what ‘Blue Skies, No Fences’ portrays is the era before the left took its long march through our cultural institutions. You know, I grew up — I grew up with Dick, of course — in a time when all television was a family hour, in a time when you could sing the lyrics of popular songs to your grandma. It was a time when you looked to the news; you looked to the mainstream media for reports of what had happened rather than editorials about what had happened. So it is kind of the time before the fall. I think it’s a useful thing to go back and look at what society was like before so many of our institutions were dominated by the left.
RUSH: Well, has anybody that’s interviewed you to date, or talked to you, said something along the lines of this to you: ‘Come on, Mrs. Cheney. We look back at the past; it’s fine, but it’s gone. That was then; this is now. You’re just being an old fuddy-duddy about this. You’re wishing for things that can’t be again.’ Has anybody said that to you?
MRS. CHENEY: You know, in fact, it’s true. I probably will never be able to have my grandchildren grow up in the same kind of era of complete confidence. That was part it. The future was as bright as the blue skies overhead, and I don’t think my grandkids will grow up like that. But what good parents do is shelter them from the culture — which is, you know, not very hospitable to children these days. I see my daughter doing that. I see both daughters doing that. I see my friends who have grandchildren helping to do that. You know, keep them away from the worst that’s on television. Keep them away from the harm that’s on the Internet. Keep them away from movies. There’s a lot out there you just have to shelter them from.
RUSH: Well, the culture’s constantly evolving, and I remember when I was — I want to say in 1962, whenever The Beatles hit. I was 12 or 13 years old, and my parents and others in that generation were just appalled. They just thought, ‘Oh, the society is gone. These kids, look at what they’re listening to,’ and it was all about the length of their hair. If you actually listened to the lyrics of early Beatles songs, they were just corny love songs, and their melodies were such that orchestras could record them, and they were beautiful — and The Beatles later on, when they get the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi they eventually turned and got into more controversial areas. But what about the fact that every generation of parents thinks that its current generation of kids is just facing all kinds of challenges they’ll never be able to overcome, and eventually this is all going to collapse, and yet it doesn’t happen. We do keep thriving and surviving?
MRS. CHENEY: You know what happens is there’s resistance to these messages that you get from the mainstream press, from rock music, from rap music, from movies, from television. There’s resistance to it by lots and lots of people who just won’t take the message of doom and gloom that is so often portrayed. There was a piece in, I don’t know, one of the newspapers — maybe USA Today — this week, about how all these downbeat movies aren’t going anywhere, and there’s a piece today, in fact, on the front page of the Washington Times about how people are resisting all of these anti-Iraq movies that have big stars in them, like Meryl Streep, for example. So there’s a lot of good common sense in the populous at large — a lot of good common sense in your listeners — that simply don’t fall for the line that we get fed, and that’s sort of the hope of the culture and the hope of tomorrow.
RUSH: Now, the audience, when I say this, I think might cock their heads and be a little curious. I haven’t had a chance to read the whole book, but I did read enough of it, and I read about your teenage years —
MRS. CHENEY: (laughs)
RUSH: — and, honestly, I was reminded, reading what you wrote of your teenage years, of American Graffiti, the movie, and people are not going to associate you with the things that happened in American Graffiti.
MRS. CHENEY: Well, you know, one of the things they might not associate me with is baton twirling, and I was quite a good baton twirler. This is something I tried to keep secret for many years after we came to Washington since I thought I needed to be taken seriously, but I discovered the other day that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had also been a baton twirler so I decided it was safe to talk about it.
MRS. CHENEY: (laughter)
RUSH: (laughter) We’re learning all kinds of things here.
MRS. CHENEY: But you’re right, it was like American Graffiti, and there was something —
RUSH: You were actually… You drove around in the souped-up mobiles that needed a stepladder to get in the trunk and you had drag races, hang around at your local burger joint?
MRS. CHENEY: You know, I kind of did. I will tell you that perhaps the vice president was not so convinced that this was an important undertaking. We spent a lot of time cruising between one drive-in on one end of the town, and the other drive-in on the other, and he didn’t see the importance of this. So he perhaps wasn’t as important a figure on the social scene as maybe I would have liked in the beginning, but I soon figured out that quiet, calm, and confident was my cup of tea.
RUSH: Well, the challenge here of adapting to the — some would say the — devolution of the culture —
MRS. CHENEY: Yes.
RUSH: — and so forth, what do you hope people get from reading your book, other than the obvious, the times were innocent back then, because you really can’t go back and relive those days. You can’t bring ’em forward. People may try. It could be nice if certain things could happen today as they did then, but what are people supposed to do, after reading your book?
MRS. CHENEY: Well, I think, one, realize what’s happened. You know, the sixties were devastating in many ways. The sixties were an age where we were taught that ‘innocence’ — the adjective you give to my book, that ‘innocence’ — was repression and that what the country really needed was a drug-introduced frenzy like Woodstock. Remember and see the price that the sixties exacted by looking at a book like this. Understand how important it is to help your kids know about other eras in our culture when they weren’t under assault by messages about wearing skimpy clothes and doing drugs at all times.
RUSH: When you left the house to play, and you were gone for hours, did your parents worry where you went?
MRS. CHENEY: No. You know, it was a very safe culture in the sense that criminals were doing crime, and most middle-class families like mine thought that we had nothing to do with that. I certainly didn’t grow up in some kind of Pleasantville. Our town had a very scandalous district that stretched out behind the courthouse, but it wasn’t part of the culture for kids.
RUSH: (laughing) I love the way you put that, ‘a scandalous district that stretched out behind the court house.’ (laughing)
MRS. CHENEY: I know, but you know, small towns are like that. They’ve got this part and that part. The other thing is, I think it’s really helpful for kids to see their family’s story; to know what it was like when their parents, when their grandparents grew up, and even to go back further. There are so many unnamed heroes and heroines in our history. I put some of the ones from Dick’s and my family in this book. But every family has those. One of the things that the left tries to do is to tell us that our story; our national story, is a grim and depressing one, and it is not. It is full of heroes, and we should teach ourselves and our children about them.
RUSH: You know, you were inspired by the pioneers, and reading that part of your book, from the Sooners in Oklahoma, to the covered wagon crowd that went west. You realize if people tried to get in covered wagons today, 14 federal agencies and two state agencies wouldn’t let ’em go an inch because the wheels wouldn’t pass inspection. Those people knew real hardship, Mrs. Cheney. They overcame them.
MRS. CHENEY: They did.
RUSH: They were rugged individualists and they were self-reliant. They didn’t know ‘Nanny State’ government. They didn’t know regulations. They just knew what they wanted to do and had to do, and you are absolutely right. There’s so much to learn by watching the people who actually forged and built the country, and what they went through to do it.
MRS. CHENEY: It helps you be grateful for the life that we know, but it also tells you that the life we know is going to take some effort on our own part to keep it going. That’s why I listen to you, Rush, and what I’m so grateful to your show for. You know, you keep fighting back against the idea that somehow this is a bad country. You keep fighting for the idea that we’re a great and good nation — and, boy, I see that in our history. I want to tell that to our kids. I think we all ought to take a little time every day to try to remember the people that built this nation and to shoulder our own responsibility to keep it going.
RUSH: It’s got to the point where you get up in a given day in this country, and, if you turn on the news, you’re going to see doom and gloom. You’re going to see apocalyptic news stories. You’re going to see tax increases that make no sense, more regulations, just the world closing in on you. You, as the wife of the vice president, you and your family have come under some of the most vicious personal attacks that people in my lifetime can remember. You’re right up there with what Nixon endured and Ronald Reagan and others, and yet here you are writing this cheerful, optimistic book about your past — and there’s certainly no bitterness in the book whatsoever.
MRS. CHENEY: You know, when I think about some of my grandmothers, great-grandmothers… My grandmother raised her family in the Salt Creek Oil Fields outside Casper, Wyoming where I grew up. When I think about her raising babies in what was essentially a tent out there — you know, where it got 30 below in the winter; where the wind blew like crazy at all times; where there was no plant life to hold down the dust — I think ‘Boy, my life is easy.’ Yeah, you got people out there saying things you go wishing they wouldn’t say, but you push back. That’s what you do. I think of my Mormon grandmother who came across the ocean and across the country and lost her husband and lost her baby, and kept going, you know, because she wanted to get to Utah, and she believed she could. That optimism and that determinism are characteristics that I hold up for myself and hope that I can emulate, and that I want to have my children know about.
RUSH: Well, that’s great, and I really thank you for giving us this time to talk about the book. Again, folks, it’s called: Blue Skies, No Fences: A Memoir of Childhood and Family by Lynne Cheney. It’s sobering in a sense, Mrs. Cheney, because it’s a flat-out reminder of how things once were and how they’ve been lost, but can still be remembered and used as influences in your own family. It’s a very, very excellent point. Thanks for your time. It’s always a pleasure.
MRS. CHENEY: Hey, great to talk to you, Rush.
RUSH: You bet. That’s the wife of the vice president, Lynne Cheney, and again the book: Blue Skies, No Fences.